CSG mining blamed for high greenhouse gas levels
A TEAM of Southern Cross University researchers have released pioneering findings suggesting coal seam gas mining could be responsible for the escape of significant quantities of methane into the atmosphere.
Methane is touted as a green fuel, but in its raw state is a major greenhouse gas, 100 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.
Using state-of-the-art equipment, Dr Isaac Santos and Dr Damien Maher from SCU's Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry undertook the first large-scale mapping of methane levels in the air and water from the Northern Rivers region to Tara in Queensland's Darling Downs.
The industry hasn't been transparent, and they're still not being transparent.
The highest concentrations of methane in the air around Tara - an intensive CSG production area - were up to three times those found anywhere else.
The team also tracked methane levels in the water along the Richmond and Condamine Rivers, and found the lowest concentrations of methane in the Condamine River were 10 times higher than the highest identified in the Richmond.
Dr Maher emphasised that if high levels of methane are released via CSG production, it called into question the 'green and clean' tag promoted by the CSG industry.
The scientists both called for further 'baseline' studies across all areas slated for future CSG production, and called attention to the lack of government-funded groundwater monitoring wells.
The findings follow an SCU lecture last week by Monash University's Dr Gavin Mudd who criticised the current regulatory framework around CSG as akin to the US sub-prime mortgage disaster.
"The industry hasn't been transparent, and they're still not being transparent, and they consider this a PR war not a real issue," said Dr Mudd last week who described some of the claims being made by the industry as 'radically unscientific'.