Lock the Gate investigators have discovered methane gas bubbling to the surface along a five-kilometre stretch of the Condamine River near Chinchilla in Queensland, not far from the site of Australia’s largest coal-seam gas mining operation.
The gas is bubbling to the surface in at least four spots along a stretch of the river and, according to a local landowner, the CSG company operating in the area – Origin – has identified it as coal-seam gas and is testing to see which of its seams it comes from.
Chinchilla CSG activist and local resident Dayne Pratzky recorded the alarming video above, which clearly shows a number of areas where substantial amounts of gas are bubbling to the surface of the river. In the video, a hand is seen holding onto a gas-measuring device, which sets off an alarm as soon as it is placed near the surface of the bubbling water.
Lock the Gate Alliance president Drew Hutton will be fronting a media conference today at 10.30am in front of the Queensland Parliamentary Annexe to describe these findings and call for Origin to release all its seismic and other data relating to potential migratory pathways from their coal seam to the Condamine River so this can be independently assessed.
‘Depending on what is found, and if a leak is established, then there has to be an assessment as to whether that whole gas field that this is a part of needs to be shut down,’ he told Echonetdaily this morning.
‘I’m not ruling out that this could be a natural phenomenon but the chances of that are very low.’
A former resident of Chinchilla, Mr Hutton said that, while it was possible for methane to naturally bubble to the surface of waterways, none of the local farmers had ever heard of it happening in the Condamine River.
‘Also, the fact that it is occurring along several kilometres of the river would suggest it is not an isolated occurrence but a major leak and has found its way to the surface along migration pathways opened up by the de-watering of aquifers or fracking.
‘I don’t think there is any doubt this extensive leak is linked to the coal-seam gas drilling, and probably fracking, that is occurring in nearby wells,’ Mr Hutton said.
‘This is just one cut in the death-by-a-thousand-cuts to the environment that will occur when we have the tens of thousands of wells across rural Queensland.’
Mr Hutton said the incident had been reported to the Mines and Environment departments by a local landowner but these departments reportedly did not want to know about it.