Gillard Govt needs to deal with salt from Qld CSG projects

THE Federal Government does not yet know how hundreds of thousands of tonnes of salt produced as a by-product of massive coal seam gas project in Queensland will be dealt with.

Under questioning during a Senate estimates hearing on Wednesday, Environment Department officials revealed plans to deal with the 700,000 tonnes of salt likely to be produced had not been completed.

As part of the 2010 approvals of three huge CSG projects in Queensland, proponents including Queensland Gas, Santos and APLNG were required to create a water management plan.

Departmental secretary Dr Kimberley Dripps said as part of those plans, the companies did need to include descriptions of how to manage the salt.

While re-injection of the salt back into aquifers was considered, compliance and enforcement assistance secretary Shane Gaddes said that was not the best option.

He said proponents were "working on options which are better than that", but the department did not yet know what specific measures would be undertaken to deal with the salt.

Rather than the department directing the companies to a best practice option, deputy secretary Dean Knudson said it was up to the proponents to figure out how to "make good" the impacts of the salt.

Assistant secretary Barbara Jones told the hearing if there were "unacceptable impacts that cannot be managed, the activity will not progress.

It is understood some companies were undertaking re-injection trials for the salt, but the findings of those trials had not yet been released.