11.5 C
Byron Shire
June 15, 2024

SCU scientists welcome CSG report

Latest News

Housing waiting lists jump over 100 per cent for Northern Rivers

Crisis response needed from NSW state government as listings for priority housing increase over 100 per cent in multiple Northern Rivers regions.

Other News

The Music of Bowie

Byron Bay – step into the world of iconic rock legend David Bowie as Brisbane’s very own Soft Treadly (formerly known as The Jensens)

Police make arrest over Wallum protests

Save Wallum protectors, a NSW MLC and a retired magistrate have questioned the use of police resources after those supporting efforts to save rare ecological heathland in Brunswick Heads from urban development were contacted by Tweed-Byron Police Detectives.

Flood-prone land subdivision DA on exhibition

A proposal by developer Callum Sked to subdivide flood-prone land near the Mullumbimby Showground is now on public exhibition on Council’s website until June 25.

Call for immediate ban on logging in the proposed Great Koala National Park 

There will be no more koalas in the wild in NSW by 2050 if we don’t take action to preserve their habitat, according to a NSW state parliamentary inquiry in 2020, but the Nature Conservation Council say NSW Labor still isn’t doing enough.

Jagun Alliance – rebuilding Indigenous knowledge

Sustainability is intrinsic to Aboriginal cultural frameworks, all ways of being, knowing and doing. It’s about being in the right relationship with Country, and all the endemic species being in the right relationships, in the kinship Country for Country, Jagun.

Students fired up for marine protection  

There is something deeply inspiring about a hall full of young humans who are passionate about saving the planet. Tired narratives about apathy and disengagement dissolve as those who are inheriting ecological wounds inflicted by past generations seek solutions and healing.

Southern Cross University biogeochemistry researcher Dr Damien Maher says the initial report on coal seam gas (CSG) activities in New South Wales, by the state’s Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Mary O’Kane, ‘vindicates’ the university’s research.

Dr Maher, from SCU’s Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry Research, said the report highlighted the need for comprehensive baseline data.

‘We welcome this report, which really vindicates our position that it is very difficult to assess the impact of any industry if you don’t have baseline data to start with,’ Dr Maher said.

‘The report is comprehensive and endorses the need for research, and for that research to be independent so the public trusts the outcome.’

 

Renewed moratorium calls

Not all groups have reacted so positively to the news, with the Nature Conservation Council of NSW renewing its call for a moratorium on CSG development.

‘Much more analysis of longer-term effects is required before the community will be satisfied the serious human health and environmental threats of this polluting industry can be managed,’ NCC Campaigns Director Kate Smolski said.

‘When there is so much at stake, the government has a duty to apply the precautionary principle to minimize risks to communities, water supplies and wildlife.

‘The government must halt any CSG development until the concerns raised in the report and cumulative impacts are dealt with fully – we must not gamble with our water and agricultural lands.’

 

Methane concentrations

SCU’s Dr Maher and his research colleagues, Associate Professor Isaac Santos and Douglas Tait, released data in late 2012 showing methane concentrations around the Tara gas fields in Southern Queensland were significantly higher than surrounding areas where there was no coal seam gas infrastructure.

The team has also produced a peer-reviewed paper, published in the international scientific journal Environmental Science and Technology, reporting the results of a field experiment specifically designed to look into potential influences of CSG on the chemistry of the atmosphere.

That study found a significant link between atmospheric concentrations of radon gas in CSG fields and the number of CSG wells nearby.

Dr Maher said their research focus was on providing rigorous scientific data to inform the debate on CSG.

The chief scientist’s report also calls for robust baseline data.

‘Solid baseline data help to reduce concerns around an activity and helps with “social licences” to operate by potentially removing inferred links to environmental impacts such as groundwater quality and seismicity. In other words, baseline data are critical in providing context and allowing critical assessment of any associated risks,’ the report says.

Recommendation 3 of the report states that before any major CSG mining is undertaken, a ‘whole-of-state subsidence baseline be calculated using appropriate remote sensing data going back, say, 15 years. And that, from 2013 onwards, an annual whole-of-state subsidence map be produced so that the state’s patterns can be traced for the purpose of understanding and addressing any significant cumulative subsidence.’

The chief scientist’s initial report also confirmed that analytical equipment instrumentation, of the type used by Southern Cross University, can be used to measure concentrations of methane and other gases that may arise from local sources, stating the instrument is useful for getting precise baseline data; however, continuous monitoring is required and it can miss large diffuse sources such as soil.

Dr Maher welcomed this affirmation of the manner in which the data produced by SCU researchers was obtained.

He said the analytical equipment used by their research team was the first of its kind in Australia. It was funded with Australian Research Council grants.

‘With this equipment we can make our measurements in situ and we can analyse the data in real-time. This enables us to make more detailed observations,’ he said.
The research team is continuing to collect data from the Tara gas fields and is currently working with scientists from the University of Melbourne to develop modelling techniques to calculate methane emissions.


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Editorial – Should Mullum’s water remain locally sourced?

The push by members of Council’s Water and Sewer Advisory Committee (WSAC) to retain Mullum’s local water supply is heating up...

Relocalising to find the life we all dream of

Everywhere we look we see signs of economic downturn, environmental destruction and social breakdown. It’s easy to wonder how we can ever improve our lives and those of our kids.

Mullet fishers destroy dunes and native plants at Gawandii Beach, Shaws Bay

Locals and Tuckombil Landcare have expressed concerns over damage to the dunes at Gawandii Beach at Shaws Bay by fisher people who are accessing the beach for the mullet harvesting season. 

Flood-prone land subdivision DA on exhibition

A proposal by developer Callum Sked to subdivide flood-prone land near the Mullumbimby Showground is now on public exhibition on Council’s website until June 25.