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Eng.monash.edu.au/enveng Dr Gavin M. Mudd Environmental Engineering What the ‘Frack’? Coal Seam Gas, Fracking & Groundwater DCQ-RAPAD.

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Presentation on theme: "Eng.monash.edu.au/enveng Dr Gavin M. Mudd Environmental Engineering What the ‘Frack’? Coal Seam Gas, Fracking & Groundwater DCQ-RAPAD."— Presentation transcript:

1 eng.monash.edu.au/enveng Dr Gavin M. Mudd Environmental Engineering What the ‘Frack’? Coal Seam Gas, Fracking & Groundwater DCQ-RAPAD Coal Seam Gas Forum, 21 st -22 nd April 2012

2 DCQ-RAPAD Coal Seam Gas Forum: Fracking, Coal Seam Gas & Groundwater April 2012 / 2 Courtesy: W. Miller

3 DCQ-RAPAD Coal Seam Gas Forum: Fracking, Coal Seam Gas & Groundwater April 2012 / 3 Presentation Overview What is Coal Seam Gas (brief !)What is Coal Seam Gas (brief !) Common Environmental ConcernsCommon Environmental Concerns Groundwater Risks and ImpactsGroundwater Risks and Impacts Need for Thorough Research & Evidence of ‘NO HARM’Need for Thorough Research & Evidence of ‘NO HARM’

4 DCQ-RAPAD Coal Seam Gas Forum: Fracking, Coal Seam Gas & Groundwater April 2012 / 4 What is Coal Seam Gas ? Coal can often contain significant amounts of methane – also called ‘natural gas’ – hence the name ‘coal seam gas’ (CSG)Coal can often contain significant amounts of methane – also called ‘natural gas’ – hence the name ‘coal seam gas’ (CSG) CSG is a major problem for coal mining – especially underground (CSG is the principal cause of coal mine accidents, & historically simply vented to the air)CSG is a major problem for coal mining – especially underground (CSG is the principal cause of coal mine accidents, & historically simply vented to the air) You can extract CSG before coal mining, or even separately through bores & pipesYou can extract CSG before coal mining, or even separately through bores & pipes

5 DCQ-RAPAD Coal Seam Gas Forum: Fracking, Coal Seam Gas & Groundwater April 2012 / 5

6 DCQ-RAPAD Coal Seam Gas Forum: Fracking, Coal Seam Gas & Groundwater April 2012 / 6 CSG Exploration or ‘Appraisal’ Well Gladstone EIS, Santos, 2009

7 DCQ-RAPAD Coal Seam Gas Forum: Fracking, Coal Seam Gas & Groundwater April 2012 / 7 CSG Production Well Gladstone EIS, Santos, 2009

8 DCQ-RAPAD Coal Seam Gas Forum: Fracking, Coal Seam Gas & Groundwater April 2012 / 8 Common Environmental Concerns Major environmental issues with CSG include:Major environmental issues with CSG include: –compatibility of land use (eg. farming v CSG) –surface water impacts (toxics, erosion, floods, …) –groundwater impacts – quantity & quality –toxic pollutants released – accidents or ongoing operations The extent of scientific research documenting these risks is MINIMAL …The extent of scientific research documenting these risks is MINIMAL …

9 DCQ-RAPAD Coal Seam Gas Forum: Fracking, Coal Seam Gas & Groundwater April 2012 / 9 CSG & Water Issues Water WATER WATERWater WATER WATER

10 DCQ-RAPAD Coal Seam Gas Forum: Fracking, Coal Seam Gas & Groundwater April 2012 / 10 Aerial view of a CSG Water Pond

11 DCQ-RAPAD Coal Seam Gas Forum: Fracking, Coal Seam Gas & Groundwater April 2012 / 11 Salt storm from CSG Water Pond

12 DCQ-RAPAD Coal Seam Gas Forum: Fracking, Coal Seam Gas & Groundwater April 2012 / 12 Case Study: Condamine Alluvium, Qld Courtesy: A. Brown

13 DCQ-RAPAD Coal Seam Gas Forum: Fracking, Coal Seam Gas & Groundwater April 2012 / 13 Groundwater Concerns v CSG Groundwater is a COMPLEX resource to assess & manage … Australia’s track record is widely acknowledged to be poorGroundwater is a COMPLEX resource to assess & manage … Australia’s track record is widely acknowledged to be poor Major groundwater concerns vs CSG include:Major groundwater concerns vs CSG include: 1.Altering groundwater flow regimes, especially deep to shallow aquifers 2.Poor quality of CSG formation waters 3.Potential for explosive buildup of methane gas 4.Dependence of rural communities & industries on groundwater

14 DCQ-RAPAD Coal Seam Gas Forum: Fracking, Coal Seam Gas & Groundwater April 2012 / 14 Duke Uni. – GW, Shale Gas & CH 4 Osborn et al., 2011, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci.Osborn et al., 2011, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. Study of CH4 in groundwaters of shale gas extraction and background (non-gas) areasStudy of CH4 in groundwaters of shale gas extraction and background (non-gas) areas –for shale gas areas, showed that CH 4 concentrations in groundwater are significantly higher than background norms –isotope fingerprinting clearly showed shale CH 4 as the source

15 DCQ-RAPAD Coal Seam Gas Forum: Fracking, Coal Seam Gas & Groundwater April 2012 / 15 Duke Uni. – GW, Shale Gas & CH 4

16 DCQ-RAPAD Coal Seam Gas Forum: Fracking, Coal Seam Gas & Groundwater April 2012 / 16

17 DCQ-RAPAD Coal Seam Gas Forum: Fracking, Coal Seam Gas & Groundwater April 2012 / 17 Need for MUCH Better Monitoring … CSG industry in Australia is closely related to the use of fracking chemicalsCSG industry in Australia is closely related to the use of fracking chemicals Yet we still do not understand the full extent of groundwater risks – in space & timeYet we still do not understand the full extent of groundwater risks – in space & time Both industry & government have been too lax in simply believing minimal impactsBoth industry & government have been too lax in simply believing minimal impacts Need much greater monitoring & transparencyNeed much greater monitoring & transparency Track record is poor on both fronts …Track record is poor on both fronts …

18 DCQ-RAPAD Coal Seam Gas Forum: Fracking, Coal Seam Gas & Groundwater April 2012 / 18 Summary & Choices … CSG is a technically viable way to produce gas, often very profitable BUTCSG is a technically viable way to produce gas, often very profitable BUT CSG has major issues around waterCSG has major issues around water –Often poor quality water extracted with CSG –Can be major impacts on groundwater resources – still major uncertainty with extent Whether CSG should muscle out renewable energy is yet to be seenWhether CSG should muscle out renewable energy is yet to be seen

19 DCQ-RAPAD Coal Seam Gas Forum: Fracking, Coal Seam Gas & Groundwater April 2012 / 19 Acknowledgements John Polglase (photo’s!)John Polglase (photo’s!) Andrew Brown (GW graphs!)Andrew Brown (GW graphs!) Many community groups in NSW and Qld working on CSG issuesMany community groups in NSW and Qld working on CSG issues Any questions, please contact me:Any questions, please contact (Office / Mobile )


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