Researchers can’t tell if bubbling is CSG-related
BUBBLES in floodwaters and puddles have been found in areas around Casino, but the lack of prior research into the phenomenon is leaving researchers with more questions than answers.
A significant bubble stream in the Condamine River last year grabbed national media attention when Lock the Gate Alliance claimed it was CSG-related.
Those bubbles were confirmed as methane in a Queensland Government report in January, but it is still unknown where the bubbles were coming from and why.
Interest in the phenomenon has since snowballed.
More than 20 pockets of bubbles have now been identified around Rappville and Leeville, west of Summerland Way, with further sightings in puddles on a gravel road at Doubtful Creek.
On one semi-flooded Rappville property, 14 bubbling spots have been documented with more along the bank of a nearby creek.
But testing on samples taken from the site by Southern Cross University's Environmental Analysis Laboratory (EAL) has so far indicated they contain no contaminants.
"With the testing we've been concentrating on contaminants - metals, petroleum hydrocarbons and BTEX," laboratory director Graham Lancaster said.
EAL has not tested for methane. Mr Lancaster said it was not considered a health risk, so it wasn't typically tested for in any environmental monitoring.
Even if the laboratory tested for methane, Mr Lancaster said it would mean nothing without a background reading, as it could be naturally occurring. "There are many reasons why this bubbling could be occurring," he said.
"In any low-lying area you're going to have methane, as the natural breakdown of organic matter has methane as an offshoot.
"The biggest thing is we don't know what the background is."
SCU researchers Dr Isaac Santos and Dr Damien Maher, authors of a paper on methane levels around CSG-intensive areas around Tara in Queensland, are methodically testing baseline levels in the air around the Northern Rivers.
Once they get to Rappville, more light may be shed on the mystery.