SAFETY concerns have been raised over the latest company to lodge an application for a petroleum exploration licence in Corowa Shire.
A Border environment group is concerned with Petro Tech seeking a drilling licence for a 6600 square kilometre area in the northern part of the shire after the company was in breach of safety practices three years ago.
At the same time the company has also lodged a licence for 7736 square kilometres in an area west of Deniliquin.
The Latrobe Valley Express reported this year Petro Tech carried out a routine well flaring procedure in 2010 that resulted in a burning ember drift into nearby pastures.
That sparked a 10-hectare fire on farmland at Seaspray, a small coastal town in Victoria.
The newspaper also reported that according to an incident investigation report obtained under Freedom of Information law, Petro Tech did not have a towbar-equipped car on-site to move a water tanker trailer in range of the fire, while the tank’s pump hose was too short.
Parent company chairman Rob Annells, of Lakes Oil, denied any wrongdoing, saying Petro Tech had approval from the fire department.
“It was an unfortunate accident and these things can happen,” he said.
“We had all the necessary procedures in place, including a fire tanker on site.”
Lizette Salmon, spokeswoman for Wodonga Albury Towards Climate Health, is concerned about the company following fire safety precautions and also the need to protect underground water supplies.
“If Petro Tech cannot be trusted to follow the most basic fire safety precautions, then I wonder if they can be relied on to follow other basic safety precautions?” she said.
“Can we trust them to protect our underground water supplies or will they take short-cuts there too? It’s just not worth the risk.”
The application is under consideration with NSW Trade and Investment.