STUNT: Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham set the methane seeps in the Condamine River on fire earlier this month as part of the Greens' campaign to ban fracking and unconventional gas in Australia.
STUNT: Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham set the methane seeps in the Condamine River on fire earlier this month as part of the Greens' campaign to ban fracking and unconventional gas in Australia. Max Phillips

NSW Greens MP sets Condamine River and social media on fire

WHAT was a NSW Greens MP doing in a boat on the Condamine River with a stove lighter in his hand earlier this month?

Viewers of Channel 10’s The Project found out, when the show aired footage of NSW Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham setting fire to a methane seep on the Condamine River.

The video shows the MP igniting the bubbling methane seep, which explodes.

After swearing in surprise and retreating to the side of the boat, Mr Buckingham is heard saying: “Unbelievable! A river on fire!”

The footage has since been watched millions of times.

In a media statement, Mr Buckingham said he had travelled to Chinchilla to “investigate the coal seam gas industry on the environment as part of the Greens’ campaign to ban fracking and unconventional gas in Australia”.

It was reported in February that methane gas seeps in the Condamine River were intensifying.

Origin, who operate CSG wells within the nearby area and who have been monitoring the leaks, which were first reported in 2012, reaffirmed that the seeps pose no risk to the environment, or public safety, providing people show common sense and act responsibly around them.

“We are concerned by the actions of some local activists and green campaigners deliberately lighting up the seeps in the river to gain attention for their anti-gas views. This is neither safe nor responsible behaviour,” Origin Chief Executive Officer, Integrated Gas, David Baldwin said.

Mr Baldwin said there were several scenarios that could be contributing to the seeps including the underlying geology, natural events such as drought and flood cycles and human activity which includes water bores and CSG operations.

Last night, The Project reported that “locals believe (the gas seeps) were a direct result of the CSG activity that’s scourged their land for a decade, causing distress for farmers and alleged health issues for nearby residents” and following Hopeland farmer George Bender’s suicide last year “the David and Goliath between the mining companies and the downtrodden townsfolk has become a national talking point”.

The show also reported CSIRO’s Professor Damian Barrett comments on the methane seeps, who said it was bubbling to the surface “like many deposits around the world that have coal in them and it’s finding its way through natural cracks and fissures to the surface through the Condamine River.”

Further investigation has been undertaken into several possible geological mechanisms and pathways which may explain the phenomenon, as recommended by Norwest’s independent technical report about the seeps released in 2014.

The work, along with recent detailed seismic studies, has identified some underground areas near the seeps that have the potential to accumulate and trap small pockets of natural gas.

The unique geology formed tens-of-millions of years ago and including some natural geological faults appears to create a potential pathway towards the surface underneath the river.

Origin is now working on a possible solution that it hopes will reduce the bubbling.

To watch the video, click here.



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