What is Coal Seam Gas Mining?
Coal seam gas (CSG) is gas found in underground coal seams, where it is trapped by natural water pressure. It is released by reducing the pressure in the seam by drawing out contaminated water - known as produced water.
In most cases some form of additional stimulation - such as fracking, the practice featured in the documentary 'Gasland' - is needed to extract gas at a commercially viable rate. It involves blasting large volumes of water, sand and undisclosed chemicals into the ground to fracture the underground systems. This expands cracks in coal seams, which allows gas to flow much faster and from a wider area. Depending on geology, between 20 and 80 percent of the fracking fluids are not recovered. In other words, they escape into the surrounding environment.
Toxic chemicals have already been found in the environment surroudning fracked wells in NSW and Queensland.
What are some of the concerns?
Threats to water: The development of the CSG industry brings risks into Australia's limited water resources. It draws contaminated water out of the ground that is high in salt and methane and can contain toxic and radioactive compounds and heavy metals. It also damages aquifers and uses and pollutes large quantities of freshwater.
Health Impacts: CSG mining may have adverse impacts on human health by contamination of drinking water, agricultural land and air. Contaminants of concern include many of the chemicals used for fracking, as well as toxic substances drawn out of the ground. Some of these compounds can produce short-term health effects and some may contribute to systemic illness and/or cancer many years later.
Leaking Methane: CSG extraction results in fugitive methane emissions - a highly flammable and potent greenhouse gas that warms the atmosphere at 105 times the rate of CO2, and over a 20 year period. These emissions come from leaking pipelines, wellheads and processing plants; methane in produced water; and methane escaping through underground systems.
Fire Hazards: Leaking methane and vented gas can easily be ignited by sparks or cinders. This is of particular concern in bush fire prone areas like the Illawarra Excarpment. Even waste water ponds and CSG wells have caught fire in the USA.
Earthquakes: The extraction of groundwater can alter local underground stress fields, risking seismic events. The British Geological Survey found that two earthquakes in the UK were a direct result of drilling and fracking activities.
Heavy vehicles damage roads and create traffic hazards: The CSG industry is a heavy, usually 24 hour industry. It puts huge drilling rigs, water tankers and other large machinery on suburban roads.
Big Industrial Footprint: CSG mining requires a wellhead every 300-900 metres. Each well requires at least one hectare of cleared land for the drilling pad to accommodate pumps, generators, compressors, vehicles and a storage pond or clearing is also necessary for the construction of gas pipelines, firebreaks and access to roads capable of handling heavy vehicles and equipment.
Lettuce Deliver is very concerned about Coal Seam Gas Mining.
We have recieved a number of enquires about how CSG mining will affect organic food production.
You may or may not have heard about a process called Coal Seam Gas Mining, but for those who have it has created quite an outcry. Discussion on talk back radio as well as media interest has had many of you calling our office to investigate how Gas Mining in Australia, using the fraccing process will effect Certified Organic Farmers.
Simply, the answer is that we don't know.
All we do know is that this practise of extracting Coal Seam Gas is rapidly expanding across Australia and uses an incredible mix of chemicals that we should all be very concerned about....not only for human & animal health, but also land impact and sustainability.
I suggest we all write to our local member of parliament as well as the Prime Minister to demand that this process be immediately stopped until further investigation is carried out to establish short and long term effects on the environment, the population, not to mention our Certified Organic Food Industry.
Check out a recent article written by Alison J Beaty of BFA
... and make your own mind up.
Personally our family think this is very scary and requires immediate lobbying by concerned Australians.