Greens demand fracking ban after natural chemicals found

THE discovery of naturally occurring carcinogenic chemicals released into water at a coal seam gas site in NSW has again prompted the Greens to call for a state-wide ban on fracking.

Mining company AGL was found to have broken no rules after dangerous chemicals benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes (BTEX) were found in frack water at its Gloucester drilling site.

The Environmental Protection Agency found the chemicals were naturally occurring below the earth's surface, and had not been introduced in the fracking process.

Greens mining spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said the finding reinforced his argument that fracking should be outlawed.

"The fact that toxic BTEX chemicals are mobilised by the fracking process highlights the need to ban fracking across NSW," he said.

"The ban on BTEX additives to fracking and drilling fluids was always a smokescreen for the fact that BTEX occurs naturally in the coal seams and can be brought to the surface by gas extraction techniques."

AGL spokesman Scott Thomas said workers were eager to resume drilling at the pilot site after the company was found to have caused no environmental harm.

"Our people have worked tirelessly to maintain the highest standards of safety and environmental protection throughout the pilot and it's a great testament to their diligence that there have been no adverse findings against AGL," he said.

"AGL will now determine appropriate next steps to resume the pilot.

"However, it is very encouraging that we can move on with the project which has the potential to provide a reliable source of gas to more than one million users in NSW."

AGL took almost two weeks after discovering the BTEX chemicals before reporting the detection to authorities.