Sunday, December 23, 2012

The dangers of coal seam gas. Residents are reporting strange body rashes, with some suffering from ongoing headaches.

While scientists and environmentalists are blaming cattle for the rising levels of methane, Helen Lobato says there’s another culprit which is just as dangerous. 

Coal seam gas is a form of natural gas promoted as an alternative fuel to coal.
The gas lies deep under the ground and secured in coal beds by water pressure.  The search for alternative and greener fuels has led to this growth in coal seam gas as an interim alternative while renewable industries are further developed and marketed.
‘The rationale for the use of natural gas has been because its combustion produces less carbon dioxide than coal,’ says Dr David Shearman, the honorary secretary of Doctors for the Environment Australia.
But new studies undertaken by Professor Robert Howarth of Cornell University show that the impacts of methane leaks make the life-cycle greenhouse gas footprint of coal seam gas worse than those of coal and fuel oil.
Dr Shearman suggests that these fugitive methane emissions, along with other environmental effects of coal seam gas mining such as water contamination, loss of productive land and disruption of communities, mean that there are more adverse effects of the gas when compared to coal.
Professor Howarth argues for a rapid move toward an economy based on renewable energy rather than to one dependent on the gas industry.
Nevertheless, the rush to mine CSG is set to be the next big mining boom – this time it’s taking place in the eastern states of Australia.
In our energy-hungry world, coal seam gas provides a vital source of fuel, and resource-rich Australia has vast deposits of it.
Queensland is already home to 3,000 wells, with a total of 40,000 wells to be constructed across the state – often on very valuable agricultural land. 
But the $60 billion industry, promoted as an alternative to dirty coal, is anything but clean.  Health experts, landowners and environmentalists are raising the spectre of serious social, health and environmental impacts, and calling for a moratorium on the industry that threatens the livelihoods of farmers, scarce water sources, and  food supplies.
Pollution levels are increasing due to the escaping methane that is released during the extraction of coal seam gas. Toxic chemicals such as benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene are used in the extraction process. Then there are the heavy metals and radioactive isotopes – also damaging to health. There is also the risk that up to 40 per cent of the toxic chemicals remain within the structure of the seam and can move through the groundwater polluting the Great Artesian Basin – water used for agriculture.
Residents are reporting strange body rashes, with some suffering from ongoing headaches. There are stories of stomach problems and many residents affected by the coal seam gas industry are now wondering if their water supplies are safe to drink and bathe in. The National  Toxics  Network  (NTN) is calling for a  moratorium  on  the  use  of  drilling  and  fracturing chemicals  used in the  hydraulic  drilling  and fracturing  of  coal  gas  seams.  It wants these chemicals fully assessed for their potential health and environmental hazards by the industrial chemicals regulator, the National Industrial Chemical Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS).
Dr Shearman says he is concerned about how the CSG industry will affect Australia as a food producer both for the nation and as an exporter. 
‘Large swathes of prime agricultural land are being degraded to facilitate gas wells.  A recent federal government report from its Science, Engineering and Innovation Council, warns that Australia could become a net importer of food in the future,’ he says.
There are billions of dollars to be made and 18,000 jobs created but the community, environmentalists and landowners have come together to fight the gas companies all the way.
Last year, representatives from over 40 community groups formed the Lock the Gate Alliancecalling for a moratorium on the coal seam gas industry. The rural way of life is under threat with many farming families leaving their land as the intrusions caused by the mining process become too much to bear. And it’s not just the rural communities who are fighting the imposition of coal seam gas mining. It was recently reported that residents of the suburb of St. Peters in Sydney were rallying to stop mines being built in their area following the New South Wales government’s  approval for an exploration company to drill a well searching for gas.
The Australian Greens are calling for a moratorium on all coal seam gas extraction in Queensland and promise to introduce environmental laws to protect productive farmland and precious water supplies. The Greens believe that in this time of global food insecurity, any threats to Australia’s food bowl should be treated with great caution.
According to David Shearman, there is little chance that the industry will stop as the  government has signed coal seam gas contracts worth billions of dollars at a time when moratoria have been called in several other countries.
However, a Senate inquiry has been announced into the impacts of CSG mining.
However, neither the coal seam miners or governments are questioning the cost of this relentless cycle of economic growth that continues.
And the fears are that this will continue to be the case unless communities and other supporters fight back. 

Helen Lobato is a final-year Bachelor of Media Studies student at La Trobe University. This piece first appeared on her blog, Allthenewsthatmatters. You can follow her on Twitter: @allmediamatters


  1. Malaysia & Singapore & brunei ideal on-line blogshop for wholesale & supply korean add-ons, earrings, earstuds, pendant, rings,
    bracelet, hair & bracelet add-ons. Deal 35 % wholesale rebate. Ship Worldwide
    my webpage - brain games ipad

  2. whoah this blog is fantastic i love studying your posts.
    Keep up the great work! You already know, a
    lot of individuals are hunting round for this information, you can aid them greatly.
    Look into my blog : portable garage

  3. you are in reality a good webmaster. The web site loading pace is incredible.

    It sort of feels that you're doing any unique trick. Also, The contents are masterpiece. you have done a magnificent process on this matter!
    Also see my site :: grow 3 inches

  4. Hi there, this weekend is pleasant for me, for the reason that this point
    in time i am reading this wonderful informative piece of writing here at my home.

    Also visit my web site ... Shabby Chic Moebel Karlsruhe
    Also see my page :: Shabby Chic Moebel Karlsruhe,Vintage Moebel Karlsruhe,Villa Schoensinn Karlsruhe

  5. Smokeless cigarettes produce a vapor that has no harmful carcinogens or tar that is
    known to cause several of the health issues facing the public and smoker.
    Often times, the pricier items tend to be the ones
    with most benefits to the smoker. Using electronic can give them the motivation
    to quit smoking a real cigarette.

    Here is my page; e-cigarette review

  6. I think this is among the most important info for me.
    And i am glad reading your article. But should remark on some general things,
    The web site style is great, the articles is really
    nice : D. Good job, cheers

    Feel free to surf to my website :: online branding

  7. Helpful information. Fortunate me I discovered your site accidentally, and I'm shocked why this accident didn't
    came about in advance! I bookmarked it.

    My page - huawei

  8. Heya just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know
    a few of the pictures aren't loading properly. I'm not sure why but I think
    its a linking issue. I've tried it in two different browsers and both show the same results.

    Have a look at my homepage :: buying cheap jerseys

  9. Greetings from Los angeles! I'm bored to death at work
    so I decided to browse your site on my iphone during lunch break.
    I really like the knowledge you present here and can't wait to take a look
    when I get home. I'm amazed at how fast your blog
    loaded on my phone .. I'm not even using WIFI, just 3G ..

    Anyways, wonderful site!

    Here is my weblog ... Yves Saint Laurent HandKerchief

  10. When I originally commented I clicked the "Notify me when new comments are added"
    checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get
    several e-mails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove people from that service?
    Thanks a lot!

    my blog post; endoscopic spin surgery

  11. Excellent web site. Lots of helpful info here. I'm sending it to a
    few friends ans additionally sharing in delicious. And of
    course, thank you to your sweat!

    Have a look at my web blog; supplement to gain muscle

  12. Good day! I could have sworn I've visited this web site before but after going through some of
    the articles I realized it's new to me. Anyhow, I'm certainly delighted I stumbled upon it and I'll be bookmarking it and checking back frequently!

    Also visit my homepage - Prosolution

  13. ʟink exchɑnge is nothing else however it іs simply placing
    tɦe other person's webpage link on your page at suitable pkace and otheг ρerѕօn will aalso do same
    iin support ߋf you.

    Ӊeere is my weblog ... samsung un55es7100

  14. Hey there! I could have sworn I've been to this website before but after checking throughh some of the post I realized
    it's new to me. Nonetheless, I'm definitely happy I found iit and I'll be book-marking and checking back often!

    Look into my webpage - wizard101 free crowns code