Australian MP Jeremy Buckingham set the Internet ablaze by posting video footage of a river catching fire. He held a lighter to the water to demonstrate the methane present in the river, which flared up in mere seconds. Buckingham attributed the alarming flames to fracking facilities “ a kilometer away,” ignited fires online. But the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) said it’s probably not fracking’s fault.
In the video’s description, Buckingham said methane could seep through rock into the river due to nearby fracking for coal seam gas. CSIRO started investigating the river in 2012 when local people said they saw bubbles. According to CSIRO’s onshore gas program research director Damian Barrett, the methane probably leaked from natural rock fissures instead. “The gas has probably been coming to the surface there for as long as people have been there,” Barrett said.
This isn’t the first time someone has tried to light it on fire, but Buckingham reports that previous flames didn’t last long. He said his recent experiment resulted in flames that continued to burn for around an hour. He also said fracking is a much more likely cause than natural fissures since locals only began to mention bubbles in 2012. According to Buckingham, the department of CSIRO in question receives money from “the industry that they have let off the leash.”
Buckingham told The Guardian, “It would be the most remarkable coincidence that the very thing that we warned would happen has happened in the middle of a gas field and it’s totally unrelated.”
So is fracking to blame? We don’t know for certain. Barrett said CSIRO has not found a “direct connection” between fracking and the methane in the Condamine River, but fracking could not be “…[ruled] out completely.”
Via The Guardian
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