The Australian government halted work Wednesday at AGL’s Waukivory pilot seam coal gas project after toxic chemicals were detected in flowback water at the site.
Investigators from the Division of Resources and Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency were sent to inspect four coal seam gas wells at the project near Gloucester, the Sydney Morning Herald said.
Australia-based AGL reportedly did not immediately contact the EPA when the chemicals were first detected.
The announcement comes a day after AGL voluntary suspended work at Waukivory after a mix of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene was detected in flow back water samples taken from two wells and an above ground water storage tank.
AGL said none of the hydraulic fracturing fluids used at Waukivory contain any BTEX components and added the chemicals are most likely naturally occurring within the coal seams.
The use of BTEX chemicals during coal gas seam fracturing was banned by Australia’s government in 2011.
AGL is monitoring the ground and surface water near the site and has seen “no evidence of changes in water quality since the commencement of the Waukivory Pilot Program.”
“Because of the community’s concern about any detection of BTEX and in the interests of acting prudently, AGL has voluntarily suspended the Waukivory Pilot Project until a full review of the sample results has been completed,” AGL managing director Michael Fraser said.