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GISERA fracking study like health research from a cigarette company

A new fracking study released by gas company-funded research body GISERA reveals the shockingly narrow and limited scientific basis of the industry, says Lock the Gate Alliance.

The study, which looked at only six of the thousands of CSG wells across Queensland, was majority funded by vested interests, with fracking company Origin Energy contributing 74 per cent, or $245,670, to phase one and 61 per cent, or $1.28m to the second phase.

“Basic sampling of air, water and soil should be undertaken as a matter of course across the industry. The fact GISERA is describing sampling for six months at six wells as ‘comprehensive' is a damning indictment of the industry’s almost non-existent duty of care to farmers, communities, and the environment,” said Lock the Gate National Coordinator Naomi Hogan. 

“It’s also no surprise Origin has been so eager to fund this study, given the pollution incidents its fracking operations in Queensland have been linked to in the past.

“We wouldn’t be accepting cancer research from tobacco companies, so we should not be accepting fracking research from gas companies.”

Origin Energy has previously admitted to contaminating water with BTEX - a mixture of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene - at around eight coal seam gas wells near Miles. Globally, there are hundreds of peer reviewed scientific studies that point to the fracking industry causing water pollution, chemical spills on local farms and air pollution.

“Farmers’ fears are clearly grounded in evidence, and having gas industry-funded reports that only investigate a relatively tiny number of wells will do nothing to reassure them,” Ms Hogan said.

“It is deeply disappointing that the good name of CSIRO continues to be sullied by the gas industry through its funding of GISERA (Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance).

“Let’s be clear, GISERA is not an independent scientific body. Rather it is overseen by a collection of fracking executives who want to see gas wells pierce the country like a pin cushion.

“Six wells, which were spread across only two properties, is an extremely small sample, given there have been about 19,000 CSG wells drilled across the Surat and Bowen basins in Queensland, many of which have been fracked.

“The study itself acknowledged a long list of limitations due to the small size of the sample, its tiny geographic spread, and the short time frame during which studies were conducted.

“Origin seems desperate to defend its decision to pour money into high risk fracking. 

“If Origin stopped trying to silence farmers and Traditional Owners, and started listening to their own customers, the company would hear a call for it to move more swiftly to renewable energy, and stop dirty fracking activities.”

Ms Hogan said direct pollution impacts were not the only concerns the Alliance and its members held regarding unconventional gas.

“We also know that the unrelenting expansion of CSG in Queensland is having a significant, long term draining effect on groundwater across the Western Downs,” she said. 

The 2019 Underground water impact report (UWIR) for the Surat Basin revealed that more than 100 farming bores had already been drained due to CSG, with more than 500 bores expected to be impacted in the coming years as the industry expanded.

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