About Coal Seam Gas:
The coal seam gas industry is fond of positioning itself as a solution to climate change. They have managed to convince state Governments of this.
But much like the earlier claims of the fossil fuel industry that so-called ‘clean coal’ would solve the climate crisis, the arguments about the climate change virtues of coal-seam gas do not stand up to scrutiny. In fact, research suggests that energy from coal seam gas may be more environmentally damaging than burning coal.
There is a lot of leakage of methane through the production, transport, processing and use of coal seam gas. Methane is by the far the major component of natural gas, and it is a powerful greenhouse gas: 72-times more powerful than is CO2 per molecule in the atmosphere.
Southern Cross University
Dr Isaac Santos and Dr Damien Maher from the University’s Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry Research on fugitive emissions and groundwater impacts:
Cornell University – Howarth et al. Methane and the greenhouse-gas
Since methane is such a powerful greenhouse gas, even small leakages of natural gas to the atmosphere have very large consequences on global warming. Coal and coal seam gas mining are expanding at an unprecedented rate, threatening our farmland, our climate, our communities, and our water.
Coal Seam Gas Mining is coming to your area.
This kind of mining is different to any you’ve ever seen before. This one is literally coming to your backyard or next door. Plans for mining and pipeline laying are not only targeting the traditionally agricultural lands, they’re also putting gas wells in inner city Sydney and surrounds.
Mining companies have plans for 40 000 wells in the Surat and Bowen basins in Queensland alone. In NSW, the companies have extensive exploration licenses covering much of the state. Casino is about to be the hub of gas Mining in the Northern Rivers with a high pressure gas pipeline set to go through Kyogle and along Lions road to Queensland for export. Residents have been told they’ll have no say if the pipeline wants to go through their property. Farmers and landholders have Locked The Gate to Coal and Coal Seam Gas companies, defying them to take them on.
Watch this video to see what a gas field looks like.
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The extraction of gas from far underground out of the coal seams or shale is a very invasive, destructive form of mining. It damages aquifers, drops water pressure and contaminates water supplies.
Coming up with the methane gas is a mix of poisonous gases and contaminated water full of metals and toxic hydrocarbons of various types from the coal seams.
There are reports that contaminated water is dumped on the roads of mining installations for dust control. The contaminated water evaporation dams release deadly fumes and hydocarbons into the atmosphere. When it rains these dams floods and dump the water into the surrounding rivers, water sources and pasture, killing the vegetation, raising the saline content of the ground to very high levels.
Contaminated water dumped in Condamine River
The Queensland Government ignored environmental safety guidelines when it granted Origin Energy and ConocoPhillips permission to release toxic water from its coal seam gas operations into the headwaters of the Murray Darling Basin.
In June 2010, the government granted an environmental approval allowing the companies to discharge the equivalent of eight Olympic swimming pools of treated coal seam gas water per day into the Condamine River south of Chinchilla.
The company has been discharging the water since September 2010, at a maximum rate of 20 megalitres a day.
The coal seam gas water comes from the company’s gas wells on its Talinga gas field. The water has been desalinated first at the company’s Talinga desalination plant to remove waste salt, then discharged into the river.
However, desalination and water treatment cannot remove all contaminants.
Contaminated water dumped in the Pilliga Forest
In December 2011, High levels of ammonia, methane, carbon dioxide, lithium, cyanide, bromide and boron were found around a water discharge point near a Santos coal seam gas operation in the Pilliga forest, near Narrabri.
Water samples gathered by environment groups Friends of the Earth and The Wilderness Society were tested by East West EnviroAg, an independent laboratory in Tamworth that services agricultural and mining clients.
It found samples from Bohena Creek, near a coal seam gas well discharge pipe, contained ammonia at three times the safe level recommended by drinking water guidelines. Upstream samples were uncontaminated.
The National Water Commission says the CSG industry as a whole will extract more than 300 gigalitres of water each year.
If you couple that number with information from gas company QGC about how salty the water it extracts is, you find that the industry will be producing 31 million tonnes of waste salt over the next 30 years.
“In this case there were apparently no serious injuries and the methane gas migrated into nearby boreholes rather than houses, essential water supplies or livestock areas. This example shows that even with only a partial withdrawal of the hydrostatic pressure methane will migrate quickly and in unpredictable directions.”
Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing
Coal Seam Gas Mining causes irreversible damage to the lifestyle, health and financial well being of every local community it touches.
In the USA where this form of gas mining has been going on for some time, there are many accounts of people impacted by the gas industry, forced off their land due to the poisoning of their land and water supply. Reports tell of how the companies duck and weave to avoid all responsibility of the damage they do. They flat out deny it’s them, they call it acts of god. Meanwhile they continue to operate and do further irreversible damage.
In Texas, groups of cities are getting together and saying the windfall the companies promised them during exploration never happened. The mining companies basically ruined the water supply and continue to mine right next to them, unaffected by the damage to the lives of people around them.
Where are they mining now? Surat, Bowen, and Galilee basins of Queensland and the Sydney, Gunnedah, and Clarence-Moreton basins of northern New South Wales. Cooper basin in SA and in WA.
What’s the problem?
- present and potential impacts the Coal Seam Gas (CSG) industry development is having on water quality, security, inter-aquifer contamination of the Great Artesian Basin, sub-artesian and shallow alluvium aquifers;
- inadequate management of CSG water and byproducts,
- disruption to agricultural businesses and culture due to CSG activities;
- inadequate legislation for ‘make good’ provisions, land access and compensation regimes governing the CSG industry;
- lack of support being given to our clean green food producers by State and Federal Governments.
What Should be Done?
- A full moratorium on all forms of coal seam gas drilling until the environmental, social and health impacts have been rigorously and independently assessed.
- Immediately implement an independent statutory body to oversee development of strict land and water legislation, based on science, with the objective of ensuring CSG does not adversely affect the environment or other existing water or property rights.
- Coal seam gas exploration and mining to be made subject to all relevant environmental legislation, including the native vegetation and water management laws.
- The provision of standing to ensure that the community has full legal rights to challenge and enforce environmental laws under which coal seam gas companies are operating.
- The provision of a right in the Petroleum (Onshore) Act to allow landholders to refuse consent for coal seam gas exploration or production on their land.
- A prohibition on coal seam gas exploration and mining in important bushland, valuable farmland, groundwater aquifers, residential areas and public lands.
- Immediately commence maintenance of existing and new infrastructure, affected by the expansion of the CSG industries.
- Call for the revocation of the Commonwealth Government LNG export licence approvals.
- A requirement that all chemicals used in coal seam gas drilling or fracking must be assessed by the chemical regulator for use for that purpose before being approved for use.