CSIRO Boffins Downplay Fracking As The Cause Of QLD’s Hectic Flaming River

Look, you don’t need to be an earth scientist to recognise that a river catching – and staying – on fire is kinda unusual. That’s the point NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham tried to make when he took a lighter to the methane outbursts of Queensland’s Condamine River. ICYMI, here’s what happened:

While that’s all well and good, and we’re not going to begrudge an Akubra-clad bloke the opportunity to singe his eyebrows, the actual point he was trying to make is that nearby fracking operations have greatly disturbed the region – leading to a marked increase in the gas leaks you see above. 

Well, the CSIRO has now hit back at Buckingham’s dead-cert assumptions, claiming any number of factors could be the cause of the river’s odd bubbling. 

Professor Damian Barrett, who heads up the CSIRO’s onshore gas team, reminded The Guardian this particular leak has been around far, far longer than Origin Energy’s nearby operations. 
“The presence of the industry there has not caused that crack to occur or that fault to occur, it’s been there for aeons.”

“The gas has probably been coming to the surface there for as long as people have been there.”
Instead, Barrett suggests the noticeably increasing gas seepage could be caused by shifting sediment on the river bed, or by changing water levels in the underground aquifer. 

He wouldn’t rule out coal seam gas operations as a cause of the leak, but did say it’d be mighty unlikely.

“It’s not to rule it out completely, but we don’t see a direct connection, a direct relationship, between what’s happening on the gas fields up to this point in time and what’s happening in the river”
FWIW, Buckingham said he believes the CSIRO is lenient to on the industry ’cause they take their funds for research. 

That’s a claim Barrett shot down with gusto. One more piece of advice from Barrett? It’s not too clever to spark up a massive, flammable gas seepage. We might just get our kicks by watching it on repeat, though. 

Source: Guardian Australia. 
Photo: Jeremy Buckingham / Facebook.