are trying to identify the cause of methane gas bubbling in the
Condamine River. (ABC
News: Scott Kyle)
in Queensland are calling on the State Government to find the cause
of methane gas bubbling in a major river, which they say has
intensified in recent months.
so-called methane seeps in the Condamine River near Chinchilla were
reported in 2012, triggering a series of investigations.
the Government has told the ABC that it does not have sufficient
information to identify the cause of the seeps.
Damian Barrett, the CSIRO's lead researcher into unconventional gas,
has been monitoring the Condamine gas seeps.
confirmed to the ABC that the bubbling had intensified.
have been changes in the flux of methane through the river over the
past 12 months," he said.
ABC visited the most prominent methane seep in the river about six
kilometres west of the Chinchilla weir, observing large, concentrated
bubbles rising to the water's surface.
what I've visually seen since the first videos back when they were
originally found, they were just minor bubbles in particular
locations," Helen Bender, whose family owns two properties near
the Condamine, said.
terms of the number of bubbles along the river, both upstream and
downstream, [it] is increasing."
2013 report by scientific analysis firm Norwest Corporation outlined
several "scenarios" which could be contributing to the
bubbling in the river.
included natural events such as drought and the recharging of
aquifers after floods.
activity such as coal seam gas (CSG) operations and water bore
drilling were other possible contributing factors.
know that methane is coming to the surface along a fault line, a very
small fault line that occurs and intersects with the river,"
said Professor Barrett, who is also the director of the Gas Industry
Social and Environmental Research Alliance, a partnership between the
CSIRO and the CSG industry.
know that the methane that is bubbling in that river is varying in
time and the reason for that — while it is unknown — could be
Energy, which operates CSG wells in the district, is monitoring the
bubbling in the Condamine.
have to question if Origin is doing the ongoing monitoring, why isn't
more of an independent person doing the ongoing monitoring so that
there's some real transparency with what's actually happening?"
Ms Bender said.
Darling Downs landholder and anti-coal seam gas activist John Jenkyn
said the bubbling had worsened since the arrival of the CSG industry.
think [it's] the de-watering. As [the CSG companies] take all the
water out of the wells I presume the gas has found the easiest route
out of the ground, which happens to be in the river. So up she
comes," he said.
Queensland Government report released in December 2012 found that the
cause of the bubbles was "unlikely to be determined in the
short-term, and that a long-term approach to find more science-based
answers to the phenomenon was needed".
think there's a lot missing in those [methane seep] reports which we
need to know the answers to now, because the bubbles are getting
worse as the CSG activities continue," Ms Bender said.
spokesman for Queensland's Department of Natural Resources and Mines
confirmed that there was "currently insufficient information to
identify the cause of the gas seeps" and that further
investigation was warranted.
complexity and the requirement to gather and analyse surface and
subsurface data make this a long-term investigation," the