A video has been released showing huge flames erupting from methane gas on the surface of the Condamine River in Queensland, Australia.
According to Australian Queens MP Jeremy Buckingham, the methane gas bubbling to the surface of the river is the direct result of ongoing coal seam gas mining, or fracking, a kilometer away from the river.
— The Ecologist (@the_ecologist) April 22, 2016
Initially, the video footage, posted to Buckingham’s Facebook page, shows the methane gas bubbling to the surface of the water. Buckingham can be seen on a boat, leaning over the side and waving a kitchen lighter over the bubbles.
As can be seen in the video below, immediately after this, the river bursts into flames, forcing Buckingham to jump to the opposite side of the boat, after exclaiming, “Holy f***! Unbelievable – a river on fire!”
As reported by RT News, the video shows the flames continuing to burn on the surface of the water for several minutes, but it actually went on for over an hour.
Buckingham said later, “So much gas is bubbling through the river that it held a huge flame for over an hour.”
In a Facebook post, he said, “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.”
He went on to say he was shocked by the force of the explosion when he “tested whether gas boiling through the Condamine River, Qld was flammable.”
“This is utterly unacceptable.”
Reportedly, Buckingham traveled to Chinchilla, located in southwestern Queensland, earlier in April as part of the Greens campaign to ban fracking in Australia. In the area there are reportedly hundreds of CSG wells owned by Origin Energy, QGC, and Arrow Energy.
Some incredible video of a river on fire, yes I said it. And this guy got very close
WATCH: https://t.co/P6TL7NrvUG pic.twitter.com/kjkYvQLFVN
— Andrew Osmond (@andyozzy92) April 23, 2016
Reportedly, residents in the area had said the river had never bubbled with such ferocity and frequency before the fracking started in the region.
One local resident, John Jenkyn, who lives next to the gas field and was with Buckingham on the boat at the time of the incident, said, “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.”
One local resident and anti-CSG activist, Karen Auty, said they were “deeply concerned about the water.”
Auty said locals have “very strong anecdotal evidence” as many of them have lived in the area for several years and had no problems until the fracking began in the area.
“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?” Auty said.
However, despite what locals say, Origin Energy has denied that the methane bubbles in the river are caused by their mining activity.
According to a fact sheet produced by Origin, the gas leaks that seep into the river are the result of natural geological faults. The company said they were concerned that local residents were setting them alight.
Origin Energy went on to say in the fact sheet that “[a] subsequent Queensland Government investigation into the seeps found no evidence of safety risk or environmental harm.”
The CSIRO Onshore Gas Program has reportedly backed up Origin’s position on the matter, claiming the gas bubbles are not related to the mining. According to Professor Damian Barrett, research director of CISRO, “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.”
He did, however, reportedly confirm to ABC in February that the gas bubbling had intensified, saying there had been changes in the flux of methane through the river in the past 12 months.
Buckingham is standing his ground on the issue, saying CSIRO has been compromised because it receives funding from the mining company.
As reported by the Brisbane Times, Buckingham told the Project, “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 added that residents only started seeing this “after the frackers had been in, after the drilling had occurred.”
[Photo via Facebook/Jeremy Buckingham]