May 30, 2012

Lock the Gate investigators claim to have discovered coal seam gas bubbling to the surface along a 5km stretch of the Condamine River near Chinchilla.

Gas was filmed on Monday bubbling to the surface in at least four spots along the river by local resident and Lock the Gate campaigner Dayne Pratzky.

Dayne told today that the bubbling was first discovered in February by local fishermen but had been kept quiet to allow energy company Origin Energy to investigate. However when nothing had happened, he decided to shoot the video, which shows a hand-held tester measuring methane concentrations.

Dayne said the spot was a popular local fishing hole which is why he did not believe it was a natural release.

“I have spoken to guys who have been fishing in the river for 60 years and they have never seen this before,” he said.

Environmental campaigner Drew Hutton, a former resident of Chinchilla, said that while it was possible for methane to naturally bubble to the surface of waterways, no local farmers had ever heard of it happening in the Condamine River.

Also, the fact that it was occurring along several kilometres of the river would suggest it was not an isolated occurrence but a major leak and had found its way to the surface along migration pathways opened up by the de-watering of aquifers or fracking, he said

“I don’t think there is any doubt this extensive leak is linked to the coal seam gas drilling, and probably fracking, that is occurring in nearby wells,” Mr Hutton said.

“This is just one cut in the death-by-a-thousand cuts to the environment that will occur when we have the tens of thousands of wells across rural Queensland.”

Member of the Australian Greens Grant Newson, who stood for the seat of Nanango at the recent State election, said he was not surprised by this latest development in the Condamine River.

“The Greens have been forecasting this environmental disaster would happen well before CSG went into fast grow mode in Australia,” Mr Newson said.

“The proof documented from countries around the world on the CSG industry was ignored by the ex-State Labor government and still is with the Current LNP (government).

“The Condamine River is only the tip of the iceberg regarding the damage that will be caused to Australia’s water supply.”

However Origin Energy rejects the claim that gas from its production wells is escaping into the Condamine.

Company spokesman Ken Horton told ABC Radio today the gas was leaking naturally from coal seams close to the surface.

“Could be as close as 50m, or around about 50m to 75m from surface, so they’re very shallow,” he said.

“Most of the tenements that we work on the coal seams are a lot deeper than that.”

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