Origin drilling rigs back online after asbestos scare

TWELVE Origin drilling rigs that were temporarily shut down due to an asbestos contamination will be progressively brought back online in the next few days.

On March 13, the energy company called a temporary halt to projects across 12 south-west Queensland sites after drilling fluids being used were found to contain asbestos.

The fluid was supplied by Australian Mud Company and Origin said all stocks of the affected material had been "quarantined and accounted for".

An Origin spokesman said the product which was found to contain asbestos was called Nutplug (and is included in another product called Stopleak).

It is used during drilling to help seal the hole, and prevent drilling fluids moving sideways.

The spokesman yesterday said five of the suspended drilling rigs had been tested and returned to work.

The remaining seven rigs were expected to return to service over the coming days.

Lock the Gate Alliance president Drew Hutton said he was "appalled" at the fact it had taken this long to find out there was asbestos in the drilling fluids.

"They have been telling us for years that the muds are harmless," Mr Hutton said. "The government also needs to answer some serious questions about how they could let this happen."


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