Researchers from Southern Cross University found excess quantities of greenhouse gases in the area near Tara gas field in Queensland, Australia’s biggest coal seam gas field. Environmental scientists call for freezing the plans for hydraulic fracturing in the region until it is established whether this could contribute to climate change.
The measured quantities are three times higher than background levels for methane, carbon dioxide and other components. These triggered a new debate about the consequences of “fracking” in eastern Australia.
Damien Maher, a biochemist involved in the testing, is certain that these levels of gases are higher than anywhere else in the world. Although the findings are still under revision in a peer reviewed journal, they should be taken into consideration and slow down the expansion of coal seam gas fracking in the area.
Scientists believe that the high levels are caused by the seepage of gas through displaced soil and aquifers. These carry fugitive emissions that can be released during fracking at great depth.
According to Peter Rayner, a carbon expert at the University of Melbourne, the high levels were released during the process of production. Health authorities urge the governmental authorities in the area to measure the concentrations of these gases in the atmosphere in places where new wells are about to be drilled.
Isaac Santos, a geochemist who was involved in the study, comments that although there are many unknown variables the results are clear and show worrying concentrations. According to physician Helen Redmond, there are already rising complaints of symptoms associated with exposure to hydrocarbon.
In response to all these reactions from different groups, the premier of Queensland Campbell Newman stated that he will carefully consider the findings and will not tolerate any industry which threatens human health.
The residents of the area approved the idea of coal seam fracking at first. It was going to bring prospects for additional job openings and revenue.