‘Sacrifice Zone’ heavy on drama, light on facts

August 11th, 2017

“We will do whatever it takes,” an angry looking activist snarls to the camera.

“I’d like to see some of them in jail,” says a protest leader, presumably referring to company executives.

So begins the trailer for the latest activist anti-gas movie, ‘Sacrifice Zone’.

Judging by the movie trailer, self-righteous law-breaking by the protest movement has become a matter of pride – a badge of courage where law and order are irrelevant; conflict with police a part of the excitement. We watch as a young man proudly describes how his dad has taken to locking himself to trucks and machinery.

To justify this self-congratulatory anti-social attitude, activists and ‘Sacrifice Zone’ movie producers go full throttle on the melodrama. The sound track is deep, rumbling and clearly intended to be unsettling. Images are crafted to create a sense of danger.

And ofcourse, there are the ongoing exaggerations, misleading claims and crass invective.

NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham is straight into the swing of it.

“They’ll pump their crap into the woods,” he snorts indignantly.

“They’ll pump their crap into the water supply. And they’ll pump their crap into YOU,” he says with extra emphasis on the word “you”.

It’s all rubbish, but if it serves to frighten people into supporting him and his Party, apparently it is worth it. Credibility is of little concern.

The movie has concluded filming and the producers are asking for donations to finish it. In the trailer introduction, a voice-over says the film will be “moving and scientifically rigorous”.

If the trailer is any guide, they ought to consider changing the title to ‘Zero sacrifice, zero science’. The participants are all intent on trashing fossil fuels and those who produce them, but how many would be prepared to do without the myriad products created from fossil fuels, including those of great importance to agriculture, such as fertiliser?

There is zero science in the trailer. There are plenty of claims, but each one is contestable; some are simply ludicrous.

“It’s pollution and corruption from top to bottom,” says a smug looking farmer protester.

These people appear to be re enjoying their time in front of the camera.

They claim to have 98% of people behind them in their campaign against the proposed natural gas development at Narrabri.

Yet 500 Narrabri locals made submissions to Government and most were in favour of the development. And the town’s total population is only about 4,000!

At the top of the list of spurious claims in the film is that the proposed coal-seam gas development in what Narrabri locals call the ‘Pilliga scrub’ will destroy the local water supply and permanently damage the Great Artesian Basin (GAB).

Water security and safety is undoubtedly an important issue.

Its importance has been acknowledged in the extensive work put into ensuring the project can proceed without impacting groundwater. The 7,000-page environmental impact statement lodged by project proponent Santos with the NSW Government goes into this in a great deal of detail.

A highly-respected former CSIRO hydrologist, Dr Richard Cresswell, was hired to assess the proposed activity and give his expert opinion. His conclusion: there is no threat to the GAB.

In fact, he notes that water will be drawn from the much deeper Gunnedah Basin and not from the GAB. Dr Cresswell also notes that the two aquifers are not connected.

In doing so, he debunks two more of the activist claims made in the movie trailer – and in countless public statements over the past two years or more.

Dr Cresswell scotches another common activist claim repeated in the tailer when he notes that the proposed Pilliga drilling area is not a significant recharge zone for the GAB.

The trailer also inaccurately slams Santos for a “long history of spills and environmental disasters”. This is nonsense. Protesters have made countless claims of environmental “disasters” to the NSW Environmental Protection Authority over the past 18 months. The EPA has investigated them all, and in most cases has found them to be either exaggerated or completely wrong.

The planned pipeline which will connect the Pilliga with the East Coast gas network is also described in the trailer as “another disaster in the making”. Never mind that there are thousands of kilometres of gas pipeline built and safely operating around Australia, as they have done for decades.

The pipeline technology is neither new, nor complicated; and the builders, in this case APA Group, are capable and highly experienced. The terrain is relatively flat and most of the 450km pipeline will be buried underground.

Perhaps it is appropriate for the trailer to leave the last, inaccurate word to actor turned activist Michael Caton, whose ‘castle’, incidentally, is nowhere near Narrabri.

After the gasfields are gone, “…what will be left behind?” he asks rhetorically.

“We will be left with a worked out quarry,” he declares emphatically. Really? Mr Caton seems to have his industries confused. But that probably just puts him in step with the confused content of the rest of the trailer.


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  1. Name (required) on 12 August, 2017 Reply

    ‘To justify this self-congratulatory anti-social attitude,’ thought your article was about another round of your mining back slapping selected ‘steak holder’ awards !

  2. Louise Somerville on 12 August, 2017 Reply

    How intriguing…the Energy Resource Information Centre has penned this piece but by whom….? Even more interesting are the shady deals being done by the PAC and Santos allowing industry execs to arrange private little tours by Santos yet EXCLUDING stakeholders, farmers, local residents in these “tours” to have their views heard.

    The emotive language used in your above piece shows how fearful you are…what are you afraid of..? Could it be that Cloudcatcher Media is right?

    Sacrifice Zone is a documentary filming the people who were ignored and continue to be ignored. Santos proposes a gasfield in the Pilliga forest at the expense of the Flora and fauna and our ancient Great Artesian Basin and future water resource security. Farming surrounds this area and depends upon a clean, high-pressured water supply from the GAB. If Santos goes ahead the GAB will be dewatered and depressured lowering the water table. Farms will struggle to reach the supply for irrigation and livestock; the Pilliga forest trees roots will also wither and die as is already happening in the Chinchilla gasfields region in Qld.

    Please donate towards Sacifice Zone today and let’s get the truth out there.

  3. David Quince on 12 August, 2017 Reply

    What unadulterated BS & Rubbish , no wonder the CSG Industry is floundering and has a reputation of both deceit & unmitigated lying . What unmitigated gall to assert that the vast majority of the population { 98% against Santos EIS Submission & 96.8% of residents of the NW of NSW / 3.3 million Hectares all wanting a Gasfield Free Environment } who vehemently oppose CSG aren’t basing their views on scientific facts when Industry Figures plainly state that 6-8 % of all wells fail on construction and that 50% fail after 15 years with the remainder over time including decommissioned wells . Add this to the fact that the General manager of Energy NSW Santos who oversees the entire Narrabri Pilliga CSG Project “States using the best Science” in Namoi Valley Energy Issue 21 /2015 , After the well is sealed , the underground steel and cement are not subject to weathering and corrosion .They will degrade at the same pace as the surrounding rock over geological time. My god this would pass a fourteen year old science test !!!!! ” The community can be assured , that at all times ,Santos uses the best science and technology and adheres to the most stringent regulations to ensure our operations are conducted safely” Mr Mitchley said . Well the community is anything but assured and Santos Java Mud Flows are indelible ingrained on the North West Communities minds . As for Jeremy Buckinghams comments about pumping their crap into you , I am sure he is referring to the unrelenting diatribe of Lies & Deceit that this industry pumps out eclipsing even their gigaojoules of CSG Gas !!!!!!

  4. David Quince on 12 August, 2017 Reply

    typo / wouldn’t rather than would

  5. David Quince on 15 August, 2017 Reply

    Please enlighten me as to where does the Energy Resource Information Centre receive it’s funding from ? A very fair Question I would think !!!

    • Energy Resource Information Centre on 15 August, 2017 Reply

      The Energy Resource Information Centre is funded by the natural gas industry, and we make no secret of that fact.


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