A new peer-reviewed study published today has debunked the myth that coal seam gas fields are any cleaner than coal mines in terms of the greenhouse gases they produce.
The study by Southern Cross University scientists found massively elevated levels of methane and carbon dioxide emissions across the Tara gasfields of Queensland with the levels up to three times that of background readings.
National coordinator for Lock the Gate Phil Laird said the study backed up similar results coming out of the United States and raised new concerns at the impact on human health of living in a gasfield.
“This study takes a landscape approach to fugitive emissions. It suggests that, not only do wells, pipes and other infrastructure leak, but the ground may also be leaking through cracks and fissures after the coal seams are depressurized and the gas is mobilized.
“It is devastating for human health and the environment.
“Fugitive methane emissions are strong indicators of the presence of toxic gasses such as sulphur oxide, nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds. Gases that likely contributed to health impacts to the residents of Tara, which forced buyouts by QGC back in August 2014.
“This study shows that people and gasfields should not mix.
“The data points to a greenhouse gas hotspot centered on the Tara gasfield whose emissions are not correctly accounted for in GHG emissions tallies.
“The research clearly shows that unconventional gas is far from a “transition fuel” and is in fact a dirty, emissions heavy energy source that neither community health nor the planet can afford.
“It is reckless in the extreme that both state and federal governments allowed drilling to commence without strong baseline studies in place.”
The study published today is the first peer reviewed journal paper on atmospheric methane and carbon dioxide in Australian coal seam gas fields.