Politician sets a river on FIRE as he tries to show how methane from nearby coal seam gas mining is seeping into the water
- A Greens MP lit the a river on fire to show the effects of a coal seam gas
- Jeremy Buckingham recorded the fire at the Condamine River in QLD
- Methane gas was first noted in the river in 2012
- Locals and MP Buckingham are calling on the government to stop fracking
- The energy company involved says methane originates naturally from ancient geological faults, and not from fracking.
- But researcher with the gas company agrees that gas bubbling in the river has intensified lately
- Locals are concerned about contamination of the water and dropping levels in ground water.
Large bubbles of the gas gurgle along the surface of the river before Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham waves a kitchen lighter over the side of a tinny boat. Without warning the river explodes in flames, forcing Buckingham to retreat to the opposite side of the boat.
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The flames continue to burn throughout several minutes of footage posted to the MP's Facebook page.
"I was shocked by the force of the explosion when I tested whether gas boiling through the Condamine River, Qld was flammable," Mr Buckingham said.
"So much gas is bubbling through the river that it held a huge flame for over an hour," said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham. "This is utterly unacceptable," he said.
Mr Buckingham travelled to Chinchilla in south western Queensland in April - where hundreds of CSG wells owned by Origin Energy, QGC and Arrow Energy dot the landscape - as part of the Greens' campaign to ban fracking in Australia.
Chinchilla community members said the river never bubbled with such ferocity and frequency before CGS mining came to the region.
"Over the last few years there more and more patches of bubbles have appeared on the river and the pressure of the gas has increased to the point where it is like an over-sized spa bath. It's a river, it shouldn't be doing that," said local John Jenkyn, who lives next to the gas field and captained the boat in the video.
Chinchilla local and anti-CSG activist Karen Auty said it was "deeply troubling" to see waterways contaminated and ground water levels drop.
"We are deeply concerned about the water," Ms Auty said.
"The locals have very strong anecdotal evidence in that they have lived in this area some for quite some years, had no problems, until the industry came to their neighbourhood," Karen Auty, she told The Project.
"As local residents we want to know whether it is safe to live among all these gas wells and infrastructure, what are the impacts on our health?" Ms Auty said.
Origin Energy said the methane bubbles in the river are not caused by CSG activity.
The gas leaks that seep into the river are the result of natural geological faults and were concerned that locals were setting them alight, according to an Origin fact sheet.
"A subsequent Queensland Government investigation into the seeps found no evidence of safety risk or environmental harm," it read.
The CSIRO have backed Origin's position, saying the gas bubbles were not related to mining in the area.
"The methane that is bubbling to the surface is like many other deposits around that world that have coal in them and it's finding its way through natural cracks and fissures to the surface through the Condamine River, said Professor Damian Barrett, research director of the CSIRO Onshore Gas Program.
He confirmed to the ABC in February that the bubbling had intensified.
"There have been changes in the flux of methane through the river over the past 12 months," he said.
But Mr Buckingham considers the CSIRO to be compromised because it receives funding from mining companies.
"I just don't believe it. I just don't trust what the CSIRO is saying and the farmers who've been there for many generations are saying they only started seeing this in 2012," Buckingham told The Project.
"They only started seeing this after the frackers had been in, after the drilling had occurred," he said.
Locals as well as Mr Buckingham believe the methane is not only effecting the river but is gradually causing greater damage to the environment.
'There has been concern that fracking and extraction of coal seam gas could cause gas to migrate through the rock,' read the caption along with the footage of the river on fire.
'Not only is it polluting the river and air, but methane is an extremely potent heat trapping gas. Fugitive emissions from the unconventional gas industry could be a major contributor to climate change and make gas as dirty as burning coal.'
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