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River on fire: even if it’s not coal seam gas we should still be concerned

Bryce Kelly and Charlotte Iverach write in The Conversation (3.5.16) about the alarming sight of methane gas bubbling to the surface of the Condamine River, west of the Darling Downs, being set alight. Questions are still being asked about the role that nearby coal seam gas extraction might have played in the gas seepage.

‘Astonishing footage of a river in Queensland on fire has once again stoked the coal seam gas (CSG) debate. The video shows NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham setting fire to methane seeping from the Condamine River.

‘CSIRO researchers, who have been researching the Condamine since 2012, have stated that the gas seep is unlikely to be due to CSG production.

‘Methane contributes to global warming but is harmless to people except at extremely high concentrations. The bigger problem raised by the Condamine River gas seep is the impact of CSG on groundwater, a resource on which many people in the region depend.

‘Even if the gas seep is natural, it suggests that we do not know enough about how gas exploration could affect this precious resource.’

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