Councils asked to fund CSG baseline research

THE peak body for councils on the Northern Rivers will be asked to fund new research into the potential impacts the coal seam gas industry could have on creeks, groundwater and the atmosphere.

Rous Water has already supported a motion calling for the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils - NOROC - to fund the Southern Cross University research project.

Ballina Shire Council will debate the matter at Thursday's meeting.

A notice of motion by deputy mayor Sue Meehan (pictured) calls on NOROC to provide $30,000 a year for three years to match Australian Research Council funds.

The research would be done by Dr Isaac Santos from SCU, whose recent work with Dr Damien Maher found CSG mining could be responsible for the escape of significant quantities of methane into the atmosphere.

Cr Meehan said it was important to get some baseline data.

"This goes to the fundamental problem of why people are worried about CSG - there is no information," she said.

"This would give us entirely scientific baseline data that we can use to genuinely measure the impacts of mining.

"I think NOROC is perfectly positioned to fund this research because CSG is something that will affect every local government area."

Dr Santos's research would help "fill some of the major emerging knowledge gaps".

Some of the issues to be looked at through the project include whether creek hydrology and chemistry will be impacted by coal seam gas exploration; the impact of CSG exploration on the nearby atmospheric chemistry; and whether CSG exploration is releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

The research will also determine the baseline groundwater chemistry in CSG exploration areas and the baseline chemical composition of groundwater potentially (or currently) impacted by CSG exploration.

Dr Santos and the SCU team will use cutting edge, high precision technology to detect any leakages of gases from wells, pipelines, compression stations or ponds.

Topics:  coal seam, noroc, southern cross university



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