“Mr Bender’s death was ‘a snap decision’ after Origin Energy tried to force him to sell.” Family of George Bender Submission to Senate Inquiry into Regulation of CSG (CBM) Industry: 1,000 pigs dead due to gas industry pollution

1000 pigs dead due to gas mining pollution, says submission to Senate inquiry by Tim Barlass, April 9, 2016, The Age Environment

The death of up to 1000 pigs has been blamed on pollution associated with controversial gas mining, in a submission to a Senate inquiry into regulation of the coal seam gas industry.

The claims, backed by graphic photographs, were made as part of a 90-page submission by the family of George Bender, who committed suicide in October after years of battling gas mining on and adjacent to his property.

Deaths occurred at the property Valencia in Chinchilla, 300 kilometres west of Brisbane, at the piggery established in the 1940s and run by Mr Bender for decades. He won numerous awards for his prize pigs at local and state competitions.

Problems are said to have started as several mining companies moved into the area including:

  • Pigs gasping for air and dying without physical cause.
  • Pigs aborting near full term or sows unable to deliver a live litter.
  • Young pigs becoming sick with swollen eyes, rashes and lung issues.

Mr Bender’s daughter, Helen, who prepared the submission, said pigs were very sensitive to their environment and had many anatomical similarities to humans.

“We have a pig down there that is so dizzy it looks like he’s drunk. It looks similar to a little cat in a YouTube video in South Dakota where they started fracking which can’t walk straight or hold its head up. The only change to our environment is unconventional gas mining.

“My brother was on the tractor and he stopped it because he thought the tractor was burning. He got outside the tractor and it was actually the Linc Energy smell.”

She said people needed to understand that while the gas industry may not be at their front doors, it would still affect them.

“Food comes from the farm … the risks to food production is high. It is not a matter about if it [contamination] will happen, it is question of when will it happen!”

The submission states: “Unseen stock losses commenced during 2010 and as the gas fields expanded … there was a direct correlation to the negative impacts to the health of the pigs.

“The negative health of the pigs had never been witnessed before in the 75 years of operation and certainly never in the life of George Bender …”

George and Pam Bender were told in early 2011 that the odour was coming from the Linc Energy underground coal gasification plant six kilometres from their farm, according to a member of the Hopeland community, who lived closer to the plant, the submission says. The smell has now been called the “Linc stink” by the community.

An autopsy conducted on a pig in December 2013 found “major abnormalities with the lung and heart”. The autopsy was not included in the submission “due to the sensitivity of the report”.

It states: “On the night of 11 December 2015 there was significant flaring/venting occurring in the gasfields. The following morning three sick pigs were found with all animals dying within 3 days of the flaring.”

The submission says Linc Energy offered $7500 to install air conditioning in the Benders’ home if they signed a confidentiality clause, but they would not agree to the terms.

A spokesman for Linc Energy said while the inquiry is under way, it would be inappropriate to respond to questions. He said there were a number of CSG operators in the Hopeland region whose production facilities were significantly larger than their 1.4 square kilometre underground coal gasification demonstration facility. [And no authority is assessing cumulative impacts prior to licencing, or during operations]

“However we acknowledge that the Senate committee’s purpose is to inquire on the adequacy of Australia’s legislative, regulatory and policy framework for unconventional gas mining including coal seam gas (CSG) and shale gas mining.”Local GP Geralyn McCarron said an investigation into the matter identified a cocktail of chemicals including benzene, toluene, naphthalene, xylene and phenol.

“This is the asbestos of our time,” Dr McCarron said.

“The farmers have to sign a legally binding vendor declaration confirming their produce is not contaminated, but they have absolutely no control over what the miners have put into the water they use. The position farmers have found themselves in is unconscionable, where despite their ongoing best efforts to protect their stock from contamination, all they can really do is hope.”

Mr Bender’s death was “a snap decision” after Origin Energy tried to force him to sell, Helen Bender said in her submission.

Ms Bender is now helping to run three properties the family owns, with four brothers, while supporting their widowed mother.

On Saturday she spoke at the Beyond Coal & Gas conference at Myuna Bay to help others deal with the anguish of protecting their land from mining.

In its submission to the inquiry, the Australian Dairy Council said that it had “concerns about a number of issues” relating to the coexistence of dairy farming and the gas industry.

The Australian Wine Industry submission said it didn’t believe the gas industry could operate near wine-growing regions and that it threatened the reputation of internationally recognised brands.

The committee is to inquire into the adequacy of Australia’s legislative, regulatory and policy framework for unconventional gas mining and is due to provide a final report by June 30. [Emphasis added]

[Refer also to:

Dr. Mackenzie Brooks interview conversation with Jessica Ernst, dedicated to George Bender and his loved ones

If frac’ing is safe & wonderful, why so many gag orders, why is fracking killing hope, people, fish, animals, vegetation, water, air, soil, and busting caprock? Why so much fraud by regulators, politicians, companies, NGOs, experts, academics etc covering up murderous corporate crimes: threats, bullying, abuse; dropping rodent shit into water wells of the harmed; trespassing, home invasions, interrogations of harmed families by police; intimidation; “terrorist” labeling to violate rights of citizens filing lawsuits? George Bender “died of a broken heart” says family.

“A terrible terrible day.” George Bender, CSG (CBM) impacted farmer, Darling Downs, Queensland, killed himself. “Not only does this community have to live with this scourge of CSG coal seam gas mining on a daily and nightly basis, now they have to deal with one of their most-respected and most-loved community members taking his life.”

Tara Australia Residents Want Out: Brutal betrayals, Greed & Gag Orders, Losing Health & Home. Synergy Strikes, Again.

Linc Energy’s Massive Frac’d Land Time Bomb (like Encana’s at Rosebud?), “Executives could face the prospect of jail. Damage has been going on for years.” Secret report reveals more than 300 sq km of severe contamination to groundwater, prime agricultural land and air near Chinchilla, SE Queensland

Queensland regulator: gases near Chinchilla might be from Linc Energy coal gasification plant, Preliminary tests on private properties showed carbon monoxide, hydrogen, hydrogen sulphide yet Queensland Health says “no health risks to landowners” (Reality check: the gases might kill you or ignite)

“Total Farce” Australia’s national assessment of chemicals used in CSG (CBM) 2.5 years delayed: Is industry afraid of sick families finding out what they’re being poisoned by?

Frac ‘n Fraud Down Under: Origin Energy execs kept aquifer contamination secret for more than 1.5 years, knew CSG (CBM) wells leaking into aquifers. Are Origin Energy CSG (CBM) wells contaminating Condamine River with ‘intensifying’ methane bubbling too?

Underground Coal Gasification Company Linc Energy Limited charged by regulator for causing serious environmental harm ]

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