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Byron Shire
May 12, 2021

Doubtful Creek farmer says unusual bubbles in dam could be CSG linked

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The bubbles create a white scum. Photo Marie Cameron (www.facebook.com/awomanwithacamera1)
The bubbles create a white scum. Photo Marie Cameron (www.facebook.com/awomanwithacamera1)

Luis Feliu

A farmer at Doubtful Creek near Kyogle, next to the property where coal seam gas (CSG) miner Metgasco drilled a test well last year, fears strange bubbles which have recently surfaced on his dam could be linked to the mining operation.

But the company rejects the claim, saying there’s ‘no way’ its operations could have impacted on the dam.

The exploratory drilling last year sparked a massive community backlash and blockade at which several protesters were controversially arrested. Metgasco left Doubtful Creek and suspended its operations soon afterwards.

Don Knight, who runs cattle on his 125-acre property, told Echonetdaily the bubbles in a large spring-fed dam surfaced late in December after he had cleared water couch from the dam’s surface.

Other neighbours and locals opposed to CSG exploration or mining in their neck of the woods rallied around Mr Knight this week and offered to raise money to pay for tests of the water by Southern Cross University.

The 66-year-old farmer, who has lived on the property for most of his life, said he had never seen bubbles in the dam, even when it was orginally a swamp.

During the past year he has watched the water of his dam, which is more like a lake, change to muddy and murky.

Mr Knight said the bubbles at first were quite frequent but ‘now you only see three or four of them every hour – there’s muddy water and a white foam on top’.

‘It looks like spring water coming up, there’s probably a cavity there now where they’ve bored through and closed a hole off, so pressure is pushing the water up,’ he said.

‘The problem is I’m not Superman and can’t see what they’ve done, they could have bored a few metres or a few miles down, and even bored sideways which they can do, they were there up to 52 weeks last year, we just don’t know as it’s all hush hush with Metgasco.’

But the company’s chief executive Peter Henderson told Echonetdaily that ‘there is no possible way that Metgasco’s operations could have had any impact on Mr Knight’s pond.

‘The well we drilled was a core well and it has now been fully decommissioned. It was drilled more than one kilometre from Mr Knight’s property,’ Mr Henderson said.

Mr Knight said he noticed the bubbling only occurred in one half of the lake and there were times when many bubbles surfaced simultaneously, causing the water to take on a new appearance.

Photo-journalist Marie Cameron, who photographed some of the bubbles this week, said that ‘trails of bubbles were rising to the surface and bursting’.

Ms Cameron told Echonetdaily that ‘some of the trails continued to burst in the same spot for up to a minute’.

‘The nearby shore line shows a buildup of white scum.’

Ms Cameron said that during the widely reported protests at Doubtful Creek last year, Mr Knight was one of the many local farmers who gave full time support to the action, backed by Lock the Gate movement.

Don Knight's dam is now muddy and murky after bubbles emerged recently. Photo Marie Cameron (www.facebook.com/awomanwithacamera1)
Don Knight’s dam is now muddy and murky after bubbles emerged recently. Photo Marie Cameron (www.facebook.com/awomanwithacamera1)

Don Knight with his dog do Jo on his farm. Photo Marie Cameron (www.facebook.com/awomanwithacamera1)
Don Knight with his dog do Jo on his farm. Photo Marie Cameron (www.facebook.com/awomanwithacamera1)


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  1. Yesterday I sent copies of Marie Cameron’s photos, plus all the information to Dr. Isaac Santos (copy to Damien Maher who worked with Dr Santos on the Fugitive Emmissions trials from Lismore to Tara on the Darling Downs)and his reply was
    “Hi Anne, thanks for your email but unfortunately we are not in a position to in investigate it. I am off work for some time [due to personal reasons]. Best, Isaac”
    This is very concerning especially as it seems that friends and neighbours are offering to send Don’s water samples to Southern Cross University?!!

  2. Suggest checking any other water bodies in the area – & plotting them with results on a map, also drill site.
    May help establish the cause.

  3. How can Metgasco definitely say that its not related?

    Do they have a map of all underground aquifers in the area?

    Until they do its all guess work.

    That is where in my view your whole “trust us” argument falls down

    One day in retirement these Metgasco officers will sit down and hold their head in shame and say ” what did we do????


    • I fully agree. Metgasco shareholders and its directors should be fully liable for environmental and economic damages resulting from their actions and any negligence. So where is the state government and a independent authority overseeing this? Both the corporations and governments (liberal, national and labor parties and local members) are very active and vocal when spouting the economic and job benefits of CSG and yet are head in sand deniers when this sort of almost inevitable cross contamination occurs.

      A great example of why Coal Seam Gas extraction is such a risky and unsafe gas extraction process. Better to use other forms of energy and export a little less to China, Korea and Japan.

  4. Well how unexpected…………..
    1. Bubbles and mud – as foretold by victims world wide
    2. “It’s not us – absolutely impossible” as is the implicit shout of “prove it!!”

    Who do we know that can help pin down the problem?

    How can we “baseline” Bentley? Because for absolute certain the full forces of “law and order” will be set against us so as to allow them to do the same there.
    My heartfelt sympathy goes to Mr Knight and any others affected.

  5. Everyone must do their own independent background testing now before Metgasco shows up in your area. We are doing testing of our ground water because of our local industrial problem.

  6. Couldn’t possibly be us, is like saying there couldn’t possibly be life anywhere else in the universe!
    I know, I’m sorry, I get a ‘little’ emotional when it comes to this sort of thing, have a nice day 🙂

  7. Collect the gas. Methane from ‘new’organic decomposition will have a different C14 ratio to that of fossil methane.

    Find a Uni that can do C14 tests.

    Bingo! An answer.

    AFAIK –


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