Coal Seam Gas Mining Overview
By our Environmental Editor Aug 2012
Coal seam gas mining involves drilling deep into the earth to extract methane held in a coal seam. In order to extract the gas, large volumes of salty water contained in the coal seam need to be brought to the surface.This water is the major waste product from coal seam gas mining. Methods used to extract the gas include hydraulic fracturing or lateral drilling. Both of these methods represent risks to groundwater.
As well as the underground impacts described above, coal seam gas mining has severe surface impacts. It requires large numbers of wells to extract the volumes of gas that are sought – in Queensland in 2010/2011 some 18,600 gas wells were approved. Along with gas wells come roads, pipelines, tracks, compressor stations and water storage ponds – which altogether results in an industry which spreads out across the landscape and caves up rural landscapes into giant industrial zones.
CSG Mining Risks:
There is mounting evidence that CSG mining poses substantial risks. These risks include:
Depletion and contamination of underground and surface water systems and supplies
Lack of any safe method of disposal of the large quantities of polluted wastewater brought
to the surface in the extraction process;
Leaking of methane from wells and pipelines and off-gassing of volatile organic componds
from wastewater storages and compressor stations;
Human and animal health impacts from air, water and soil pollution;
Loss of agricultural land and native vegetation from the large surface footprint of CSG
operations; and Risk of seismic activity from fracking and aquifer re-injection.
Over 25% of NSW is covered by Petroleum Exploration Licences (PELs). Both exploration and production projects have been given the green light, despite evidenced risks, insufficient research and growing community concern about this industry. Repeated calls by community groups, environment groups and the farmer’s organisations for a moratorium on the coal seam gas industry to allow for comprehensive scientific investigation and analysis of the threats posed by the industry have been ignored by government.
Concern about these risks from landholders and communities across the Northern rivers is why we call for the immediate cessation of all unconventional gas mining activities in the Northern Rivers.
What is CSG and how is it mined?