BTEX chemicals found in coal seam gas monitoring bores

Published: August 28, 2011

The announcement that carcinogenic chemicals have been found in five monitoring bores at Arrow Energy's Tipton West and Daandine gas fields near Dalby is another example of alarm bells going off about the coal seam gas industry.

Significant levels of benzene, toluene and xylene were discovered at levels considerably higher than those considered by regulatory authorities as acceptable.

For example, benzene was found at 15 and 16 parts per billion (ppb) and toluene at 8 ppb. These are well beyond the usual limits of 1 ppb. The State Government shut down Cougar Energy's underground coal gasification plant at Kingaroy when outside monitoring bores registered 2 ppb.

Spokesperson for Friends of the Earth and president of the Lock the Gate Alliance, Drew Hutton, said the probable source of the chemicals was the coal seam itself and, since the coal seam aquifer intersects with the local freshwater aquifer in the general vicinity of these gas fields, it is likely these chemicals were mobilised by the CSG extraction process.

"These results vindicate what we have been saying for two years," Mr Hutton said.

"The coal seam gas industry is an uncontrolled experiment on the Queensland environment and we will continue to have this sort of incident time and time again.

"This section of the aquifer might not have been used by stock or for human consumption but there are many other areas where coal seam gas drilling is occurring near valuable aquifers.

Mr Hutton said the company's suggestion that the chemicals might have come from grease used in the bore drilling process was laughable.

"This is like the dog ate my breakfast," Mr Hutton said.

"It's a good excuse and it fits many situations but no one believes it any more.

"We now have 3,000 CSG wells throughout Queensland. When we have 40,000 of them we will see this sort of incident all the time and then we have to be concerned we will start getting benzene readings in cattle.

"That will be a disaster for the export meat industry."


get updates