River set on fire by Australian politician generates amazing video, buzz

The Condamine River was set on fire by an Australian politician to make a statement. Here a man uses a paddle in an attempt to extinguish the flames.
The Condamine River was set on fire by an Australian politician to make a statement. Here a man uses a paddle in an attempt to extinguish the flames.

From a boat, a politician in Australia reached down and struck a lighter over the escaping methane gas on the Condamine River in Queensland causing a huge burst of flames to shoot up into his face and the river to catch on fire.

Jeremy Buckingham, a member of parliament from the Greens party, captured the amazing footage that figuratively caught fire on his Facebook page over the weekend, to the tune of nearly 4 million views since his posting it on Friday.

“I was shocked by [the] force of the explosion when I tested whether gas boiling through the Condamine River, Qld was flammable,” Buckingham wrote on his post. “So much gas is bubbling through the river that it held a huge flame.”

Buckingham created the video to call attention to fracking and the “tragedy in the Murray-Darling basin.”

The Guardian Australia reported that the gas is most evident in an area called Pumphouse where the video was shot. A gas field is three miles away with a gas well only about a half-mile from the river.

Buckingham called it “implausible” to think the gas flow in the river isn’t linked to the coal seam gas industry, telling The Guardian, “It would be the most remarkable coincidence that the very thing that we warned would happen has happened in the middle of a gas field and it’s totally unrelated.”

However, Professor Damian Barrett, research director of CSIRO’s onshore gas program, maintained that it was “unlikely” that the gas seep was linked to fracking in the area.

“The presence of the industry there has not caused that crack to occur or that fault to occur, it’s been there for eons,” Barrett told The Guardian. “The gas has probably been coming to the surface there for as long as people have been there.”

Barrett did admit the amount of gas leaking has increased substantially in the past 12 months but cited a possible shift in sediment from the riverbed as a possible explanation.

“The isotopic signature is telling us it’s coming from coal at that point in the landscape but coal is quite close to the surface and there’s a naturally existing small fault line, which cuts the river at that point,” Barrett told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Officials from Origin Energy said the gas leak in the river poses no risk to the environment or public safety.
Officials from Origin Energy said the gas leak in the river poses no risk to the environment or public safety.

Origin Energy, which operates wells in the area, issued a statement in an attempt to alleviate any fears:

“We’re aware of concerns regarding 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, providing people show common sense and act responsibly around them.

“Ongoing research has identified several scenarios that could be contributing to the seeps including the natural geology and faults (formed tens-of-millions of years ago), natural events such as drought and flood cycles as well as some human activity, which includes water bores and coal seam gas operations.”

Undoubtedly Buckingham remains unconvinced.

h/t The Washington Post

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