Groundwater gas sampling will give CSG a baseline

SOUTHERN Cross University scientists are giving land-owners the opportunity to have their bore water sampled for methane as "insurance" against potential future impacts of the CSG industry on groundwater.

The study is jointly funded by the Northern Rivers Region Organisation of Councils (NOROC) and SCU and is seeking to establish a map of groundwater chemistry.

WATER TEAM: Research assistant Rachael Davis, Professor Isaac Santos and doctoral candidate Marnie Atkins.
WATER TEAM: Research assistant Rachael Davis, Professor Isaac Santos and doctoral candidate Marnie Atkins. Mick Daley

NOROC agreed in February to grant $15,000 to the project, but president Jenny Dowell announced this week the organisation abandoned plans for future funding because the CSG issue was too divisive among members.

SCU associate professor Isaac Santos said the groundwater study was the first of its kind in Australia.

Doctoral candidate Marnie Atkins said the team hoped to monitor at least five bores a week and more than 100 over the six-month survey.

The research will initially cover the broad Richmond River catchment from Casino and Kyogle east to Byron Bay and Evans Head.

Ms Atkins said baseline research could function as a form of "insurance".

"If we have good, independent baseline data, it will be much easier to settle on some of the major issues related to the CSG debate," Ms Atkins said.

On Tuesday, Planet Gas announced it was withdrawing from any further CSG operations in NSW.

It was the third CSG company in three months to announce a suspension of its NSW activities following Metgasco and Dart Energy.

Also on Tuesday, the federal budget allotted $38.5 million over four years for the Independent Expert Scientific Committee on CSG and Large Coal Mining Development.

Landowners interested in having their groundwater bore sampled should contact Marnie Atkins on 0434 013 110 or email groundwater@scu.edu.au.



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