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No CSG or bubbling methane in the Richmond River

Supplied photo made available Wednesday, May 30, 2012, by the Lock the Gates Alliance, that is fighting the expansion of the CSG industry, of what it says is coal seam gas bubbling to the surface along the Condamine River near Chinchilla in the Western Downs region of Queensland yesterday. Origin Energy, who has four wells one kilometre away from where the seepage is occuring, says the gas is probably naturally occurring. AAP Image/gasileaks, Dayne Pratzky

Supplied photo made available Wednesday, May 30, 2012, by the Lock the Gates Alliance, that is fighting the expansion of the CSG industry, of what it says is coal seam gas bubbling to the surface along the Condamine River near Chinchilla in the Western Downs region of Queensland yesterday. Origin Energy, who has four wells one kilometre away from where the seepage is occuring, says the gas is probably naturally occurring. AAP Image/gasileaks, Dayne Pratzky

Baseline coal seam gas (CSG) datasets have been established for the Richmond River catchment identifying that there are no methane seeps into the Richmond river.

‘Methane seeps that look like a spa bath have been observed in the Condamine River in Queensland after CSG development,’ said one of the studies’ authors Professor Santos.

‘Because no data on methane was available prior to CSG development around the Condamine River, it remains nearly impossible to define whether those seeps are related to mining or not.’

A recent ABC report stated that a ‘scientific report looking at bubbling methane emissions in a Queensland river has found that the release of such gases could rise significantly with continued coal seam gas (CSG) operations.’

‘While methane is high in some parts of the Richmond River, we found no methane seeps similar to the ones in Queensland,’ said Santos.

‘All methane in the Richmond River appeared to be from natural sources. We will be in a strong position to assess impacts on water quality if CSG activity comes to our region in the future.’

Two studies were part of a collaborative project funded jointly by the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils (NOROC) and Southern Cross University and formed part of Ms Marnie Atkins’ doctoral thesis.

The detailed water quality and carbon datasets focused on the Richmond River and its tributaries upstream of Casino and Kyogle.

‘Our research has taught us several lessons on how to perform baseline investigations in Australian rivers and groundwater. We need to use methane as a key indicator of coal seam gas impacts on groundwater, rivers, and air,’ said Atkins.

Co-author Dr Damien Maher from the University’s School of Environment, Science and Engineering said the Richmond River has long been a focal point of the team’s research.

‘We now have one of the most comprehensive water quality and carbon datasets in any Australian river,’ said Dr Maher.

‘Site specific baseline observations are essential to plan for long term monitoring. We need to understand those natural cycles, including methane, before we are able to interpret any changes that CSG or any other development may cause into the future.’


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