Friday, September 30, 2011

CSG concerns - handy summary

Here's a handy summary about the concerns with coal seam gas extraction. The fundamental is that as the industry is new there is not much known about the medium to long-term effects of lowering the pressure of coal seams but pumping out the gas (and the water with it). Specific concerns are:

• Just how impermeable are the layers of clay separating the coal seams from the aquifers?

• Are coal seams and aquifers always separated? (And, how do you know when you start drilling?)

• Will fracking lead to coal seams connecting to aquifers?

• Will the wells leak? Will the casing seal the wells adequately (think Deepwater Horizon)? Will the wells be plugged properly (think Rum Jungle? What is the industry's record of cleaning up after itself?)

Queensland Gas Company says the majority of view of hydrologists is that over time water will always flow from high pressure to low pressure areas regardless of permeability Now here's the kicker QGC says it won't be a problem in our lifetimes. So what they are saying is lets take the profits now and lets shift the problems to the future. A case of not paying for what economists call externalities. In the ninenteenth century factories used to pump toxic waste into rivers and let those who live downstream take the consequences. Now we the downstream is the future, our children and their children and so down to the nth generation.

The concerns from farmers is the damage that CSG does to their land, to the surface of the land. The web of roads and other facilities that go with CSG extraction. It is different from other sorts of mining. And there is the problem of what happens to everything that comes out of the ground apart from the methane that is pumped away - salty toxic water.

No comments: