Residents on the Tara residential estate on Queensland’s western Darling Downs have reported the presence of gas smelling like ‘rotten eggs’ and another ‘sweet-smelling’ gas and, as a result, teams from both state and federal governments have begun investigations of the area to determine if these are linked with nearby coal-seam gas activities.
The gas smells were reported to the Queensland government several weeks ago and residents have been complaining about symptoms such as nose bleeds and chronic headaches in their children.
Lock the Gate Northern Rivers says that this latest report rings alarm bells about Metgasco’s planned Casino gas project that was approved by the former NSW government.
‘It is highly likely the “rotten egg” gas is hydrogen sulphide, the “sweet-smelling” gas in nitrous oxide and that both are coming from the same place as the methane – the de-watered coal seams from which coal-seam gas companies are extracting both water and gas,’ said Lock the Gate Alliance president Drew Hutton.
‘When water is extracted from the coal seam, the resultant de-pressurisation releases methane and other gases, much of which will be collected by the gas well but some could find other pathways to the surface, depending on the level of interconnectedness.
‘If the material overlaying the coal seam contained such potential pathways, then you would expect methane and other gases to travel to the surface where they would present a major health hazard,’ Mr Hutton said.
‘This report raises serious concerns about the planned gasfield development on the outskirts of Casino, which will be constructed just a few hundred metres from the RV Resort,’ said Boudicca Cerese, northern rivers co-ordinator for Lock the Gate Alliance.
‘The risks to human health from toxic gas migration and release of other air pollutants during industry processes such as flaring, venting and evaporation of wastewater mean this industry is entirely inappropriate for closely settled areas such as Queensland’s western downs and the northern rivers region.
‘Governments beholden to powerful corporate interests are gambling the health and wellbeing of local residents for the lure of a quick buck from gas royalties,’ said Ms Cerese.
‘Given the mounting evidence of the harmful impacts of this industry we are calling on the NSW government to refuse to grant the petroleum production licence that Metgasco needs to proceed with the Casino gas project.’
‘This latest report vindicates why communities across the northern rivers are rapidly mobilising to declare their locality gasfield free and are prepared to engage in peaceful direct action to prevent the expansion of the industry in the region.’