An Australian MP has set fire to a river in Queensland in an attempt to draw attention to the effects of local fracking, which he claims is causing methane gas to seep into the water.
Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham posted a video on his official Facebook page, where he can be seen using a firelighter to set the Condamine River on alight.
The water can be seen to set alight quickly, causing Mr Buckingham to recoil and exclaim: “A river on fire! Don’t let it burn the boat.”
Mr Buckingham says the flammable water is caused by coal seam gas mining, or fracking, nearby: “The fracking [is] just a kilometre away, methane coming up and now the river is alight,” he says in the video. “Unbelievable! The most incredible thing I’ve seen.”
Gesturing to the river, Mr Buckingham warns that “This is the future of Australia if we do not stop the frackers.”
The Greens MP also makes claims in the video that “Labor, Liberal and National parties backed the ‘dirty frackers’” and that “only the Greens think this is bloody crazy”.
Though the water is especially flammable due to methane gas bubbling to the surface, the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines has reported that there is “no apparent safety risk in the immediate area of the seeps” and “no apparent evidence of environmental harm that can be attributed to the present gas seeps”.
In 2012, Queensland CSG Enforcement Unit, which deals with residents’ and landholders’ concerns about the effects of fracking, assured a landholder that it was “unlikely” that coal seam gas mining was causing the bubbling of the river.
A factsheet from Origin Energy, who own the nearby wells, cites an investigation conducted by the Norwest Corporation which suggested that the methane bubbles could be due to natural causes such as flooding or drought as well as human activity, including fracking.
Origin Energy told AFP: “We’re aware of the concerns regarding the bubbling of the Condamine River, in particular, recent videos demonstrating that this naturally occurring gas is flammable when ignited.
“We understand that this can be worrying, however, the seeps pose no risk to the environment, or to public safety”.
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