Gases causing headaches, nosebleeds
ALL gas wells on Queensland’s Western Darling Downs must be shut down immediately, according to activists, while government authorities investigate reports of strong-smelling gases which are causing local children to suffer headaches and nosebleeds.
Lock the Gate Alliance president, Drew Hutton, says residents on the Tara estate reported the presence of gases, one smelling like rotten eggs and the other a sweeter fragrance, which were causing children to feel sick.
He says it is highly likely the rotten-egg gas is hydrogen sulphide and the sweet-smelling gas nitrous oxide.
The smells are at the same site where bubbling in the Condamine River was revealed last week, which coal seam gas (CSG) company Origin believes is naturally occurring methane.
Mr Hutton says he suspects both gases are coming from the same place as the methane, the de-watered coal seams from which CSG companies are extracting both water and gas.
Teams from both state and federal governments have begun investigations of the area to determine if the gases are linked to nearby CSG activities.
“When water is extracted from the coal seam, the resultant depressurisation releases methane and other gases, much of which will be collected by the gas well but some could find other pathways to the surface, depending on the level of interconnectedness,” says Mr Hutton.
“If the material overlaying the coal seam contained such potential pathways then you would expect methane and other gases to travel to the surface where they would present a major health hazard.”
Mr Hutton says as a result, the Lock the Gate Alliance is calling on the Queensland Government to demand all seismic and other data from Origin and the Queensland Gas Commission, with which to establish if there is the potential for gas migration from the coal seam in the area to the surface.
The group also wants the government to employ an independent expert to assess the site while all gas wells in the area are closed, so a study can commence immediately on the potential of other gas fields experiencing gas migration to the surface from the coal seam.