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‘Waiting for moratorium on fracking’ – Australian MP who set river on fire to RT

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Published on Apr 24, 2016

Fracking should be banned as a “global threat” as it causes methane leaks contaminating water in the communities near gas wells, says Jeremy Buckingham, New South Wales Greens MP. who literally set a river ablaze to draw attention to the adverse effects of the practice.

Condamine River set on fire after Greens MP lights bubbling methane gas, blames fracking

Part of a Queensland river bubbling with methane gas has burst into flames after being ignited by a Greens MP, who blames nearby coal seam gas (CSG) operations for the “tragedy in the Murray-Darling Basin”.

Key points:
  • Methane gas has been bubbling in the Condamine River since 2012
  • Vision shows Jeremy Buckingham setting the bubbling methane alight
  • Origin Energy says it is monitoring the river

New South Wales Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham has released vision of himself on a boat sparking a kitchen lighter above the Condamine River.

“Holy f***. Unbelievable. A river on fire,” he exclaims in the video. “The most incredible thing I’ve seen. A tragedy in the Murray-Darling Basin.”

Mr Buckingham said the river held the flame for more than an hour.

The video, posted to Mr Buckingham’s Facebook page, had been shared more than 20,700 times by Saturday morning.

The methane seeps in the river, near Chinchilla in south-west Queensland, were first reported in 2012, triggering a series of investigations.

Mr Buckingham said nearby CSG operations were to blame.

“This area has been drilled with thousands of CSG wells and fracked. This river for kilometres is bubbling with gas and now it’s on fire,” he said.

“This is the future of Australia and the Murray-Darling Basin if we do not stop the frackers who wants to spread across all states and territories … this is utterly unacceptable.”

Photo: Bubbling methane gas was set alight by Jeremy Buckingham. (Supplied: Jeremy Buckingham)

Gas seeps pose no risk to public safety, energy company says

A 2013 report by scientific analysis firm Norwest Corporation outlined several “scenarios” that could be contributing to the bubbling in the river.

These included natural events such as drought and the recharging of aquifers after floods.

Human activity such as CSG operations and water bore drilling were other possible contributing factors.

Professor Damian Barrett, the CSIRO’s lead researcher into unconventional gas, has been monitoring the Condamine gas seeps.

“The isotopic signature is telling us it’s coming from coal at that point in the landscape but coal is quite close to the surface and there’s a naturally existing small fault line, which cuts the river at that point,” he said.

He said research over the past 12 months showed the rate of the flow was increasing.

Origin Energy, which operates CSG wells in the district, has also been monitoring the bubbling.

“We’re aware of concerns regarding bubbling of the Condamine River, in particular, recent videos demonstrating that this naturally occurring gas is flammable when ignited,” a statement from the company said.

“We understand that this can be worrying, however, the seeps pose no risk to the environment, or to public safety, providing people show common sense and act responsibly around them.

“Ongoing research has identified several scenarios that could be contributing to the seeps including the natural geology and faults (formed tens-of-millions of years ago), natural events such as drought and flood cycles as well as some human activity, which includes water bores and coal seam gas operations.”

Photo: Jeremy Buckingham with nearby landowner John Jenkyn, who helped the Greens MP set the bubbling methane alight. (Supplied: Jeremy Buckingham)


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