Thursday, 15 November 2012 12:33
Environmentalists are calling for a halt to coal seam gas (CSG) development in New South Wales after research showed leaks from a Queensland gasfield could be more damaging to the environment than initially thought.
Dr Isaac Santos, a researcher from Southern Cross University, has found high levels of methane over the Tara Estate coal seam gasfield in southern Queensland.
He said methane was escaping from the gasfield into the atmosphere through cracks in the ground.
The finding has prompted the Nature Conservation Council of NSW and the NSW Greens to call for a moratorium on CSG operations in the state until the safety and environmental impacts of gasfields have been established.
Nature Conservation Council of NSW chief Pepe Clarke said industry claims that CSG was cleaner than coal were "very questionable" in light of the findings from the Tara Estate gasfield.
Mr Clarke said the greenhouse effects of methane were at least 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, and there were serious implications if methane leaked from CSG sites.
"The current and proposed CSG operations in NSW may have a much larger climate impact than previously thought," Mr Clarke told AAP.
"It undermines the claims of industry and some members of the NSW government that this is the clean energy source of the future.
"Given these new research findings, it is more important than ever that the NSW government places a moratorium of CSG development."
NSW Greens mining spokesman Jeremy Buckingham said the methane leaks found by Dr Santos were a concern for people's health and the environment.
"Barry O'Farrell must impose a moratorium on this industry until the true nature of coal seam gas leaks can be properly assessed," he said.
"Coal seam gas is a major new industry and should not proceed while there are still huge questions relating to its safety, environmental impact and necessity."
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