The definition of ‘data’ – Katherine Marchment reports

Coal seam gas wells near Tara, in Queensland

Coal seam gas wells near Tara, in Queensland (Photo courtesy Moira McDade)

By Katherine Marchment

I am finding it hard to understand the argument that there is ‘no data’ available for the impacts of CSG in regions around Australia.

Farmers who have bores have always constantly checked them. In Central Queensland, this task is usually carried out on a regular basis by jackeroos.

This is done to ensure the drinking water supply for stock and humans, and also to calculate available water for irrigation.

Bore levels vary and the amount of water available varies according to seasons, use by neighbours who have bores sunk into the same aquifer and leaks or pipe blockages. This has been done since bores have existed in this country.

Now if a CSG company moves in and draws down millions of litres of water from the aquifer for their operations, and your bore levels drop dramatically, is this not data? If a neighbour’s leaking bore can have an impact on your bore levels, then why is not possible to ‘prove’ the draw down from a CSG company is having an impact?

Why is it that that a bore down to the aquifer that has watered stock and humans for decades, that only becomes contaminated and undrinkable for stock and humans when a CSG company moves in and their drilling punches through the aquifer releasing methane from the coal seam, not considered data?.

There is documented proof of previously used water bores that can be set alight only since the CSG companies moved in – why is this not data?

Why is it when previously healthy families complain of being sick and blood tests are showing up heavy metals and other toxins in their children’s blood, a CSG Compressor less than 2km from their home is said to be having ‘no impact’?

A National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) report on just one of these 200 or so compressors lists a release of 680,000 tonnes of nitrogen oxides, 44,000 tonnes of carbon monoxide, 39,000 tonnes of formaldehyde and 90,000 tonnes of Volatile Organic Chemicals. These chemicals were not being released into the air prior to the CSG industry moving in so how can it be said there is ”no data’ and ‘no impact?

I am not a scientist – my observations and beliefs about the impact of CSG are based on common sense and experience.

I reject the ‘no data therefore no problem’ argument propagated by government and the CSG industry.

Is there really ‘no data’ – or just a refusal of government and industry to accept available evidence?

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  1. Kerry Parkinson says

    Right on. Straight to the guts of it. Thank you

    • aniko papp says

      Well said. The spectre of CSG mining encroaching on farmland, villages and residences in the Far North Coast of NSW is looming. We see what has happened just over the border in SW Queensland and its frightening. Your piece is spot on- why local’s views and information is totally discounted is no doubt, because the powers that be, don’t want the Truth.

  2. The onus needs to be turned around. CSG industry needs to prove no environmental impact before being aloud to proceed.

  3. joy cooper says

    It is frightening when vested interests have the ear of our governments thus hindering relevant, & much needed, information from reaching the public.

    Of course there would be such data, as you have mentioned, but as it doesn’t suit the current narrative we don’t hear about it. It’s enough to make you feel paranoid. :)

  4. Why is it when previously healthy families complain of being sick and blood tests are showing up heavy metals and other toxins in their children’s blood, a CSG Compressor less than 2km from their home is said to be having ‘no impact’?………… Because were stupid, no we are all insane,we,not any of us, you, i, have not any rationale. We are walking to the death of our childrens future,can it be put more simple? does it really matter? You, fill in the rest of this sentence.

  5. They should demonstrate they do NO DAMAGE .before they procede, or desist and rectify/compensate when there are signs that they do. The world is forever, not for the period of profit for a few. Pure water is rarer than CSG and becoming more valuable as well as the consideration of arable land for FOOD production and the health of the environment. Barbarians don’t care about the damage. SMART people do. Long term we ALL PROFIT from conservation.

  6. We have an explanation from Matt Grudnoff, writing for The Drum, that goes some way towards explaining why there is ‘no data’

  7. I absolutely agree that there must be thorough research and data provided on all possible impacts of CSG, and this should be demanded of the industry before mining approvals are given. However if we expect scientific rigor of the industry, then we must demand it of its opponents as well. Negative health impacts have been claimed in the absence of sound research (and often contrary to good science), for such things as wind farms, fluoride in drinking water, mobile phones, microwaves and childhood immunisation. If such health claims are not supported by good science then it can undermine a cause in the long term. If there is data on heavy metal contamination as a direct result of CSG mining (or information on how such contamination might be possible), then it would be useful to make the references available with the story.

    You might be interested in the information provided by the Gas Industry Social & Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA). It may also be useful to approach GISERA for comment.

  8. kaptain kanabus says

    scary pic at tara qld it boggles the minde?