An independent and authoritative review by Australia’s leading scientific agency, the CSIRO, provides further evidence there are no negative impacts of hydraulic fracturing that can’t be managed by robust regulation and high industry operating standards.
The study conducted by the CSIRO’s Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance, found the use of hydraulic fracturing to extract coal-seam gas in Queensland has little to no impact on groundwater, waterways, soils or air quality.
APPEA Chief Executive Andrew McConville said the CSIRO field study backs up over a dozen independent scientific inquiry that have confirmed that properly regulated, hydraulic fracturing is a safe practice.
“Hydraulic fracturing has been used safely in Australia for more than 60 years, and is part and parcel of the safe, sustainable development of our abundant natural gas resources,” Mr McConville said.
“While there some in the community who continue to make false and exaggerated claims about the environmental impacts of gas exploration and production, all the credible evidence confirms properly-conducted gas activities have negligible impacts.”
The three-year study measured the impact of hydraulic fracturing, often referred to as fracking, at six coal-seam gas wells operated by Origin Energy in the state’s Surat Basin region near Roma.
The GISERA media release and report can be found at: https://gisera.csiro.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/CSIRO-GISERA-media-release-AWS-Impacts-of-Hydraulic-Fracturing-final.pdf
GISERA is a collaboration between CSIRO, Commonwealth and state governments and industry established to undertake independent, publicly reported research on the social and environmental impacts of the gas industry.
CSIRO said in a media release that the study into the air, water and soil impacts of hydraulic fracturing in Queensland had found little to no impacts on air quality, soils, groundwater and waterways.
The study also found current water treatment technology used for treating water produced from coal seam gas wells is effective in removing hydraulic fracturing chemicals and naturally occurring (geogenic) chemicals to within relevant water quality guidelines.
Research objectives for Air, Water and Soil Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing in the Surat Basin, Queensland, conducted by the CSIRO’s Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance, were developed in response to community concerns about the potential for chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations to affect air quality, soils and water resources.
The study analysed air, water and soil samples taken before, during and up to six months after hydraulic fracturing operations at six coal seam gas wells in the Surat Basin in Queensland.
GISERA Director Dr Damian Barrett said that the CSIRO research conducted via GISERA in this region was an Australian first and provided unique insights into the impacts of hydraulic fracturing in Australia.
“This new research provides valuable data about hydraulic fracturing in coal seam gas formations in the Surat Basin, Queensland,” Dr Barrett said.
“Previously, the only information about hydraulic fracturing was from overseas studies in quite different shale gas formations.
“Clearly governance, industry regulation and operational integrity are crucial in managing risk and potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing.”
Results from the studies showed:
• Air quality monitoring found hydraulic fracturing operations had little to no impacts on air quality, with no significant variation between air quality at hydraulic fracturing operational sites and control sites where no hydraulic fracturing activities occurred.
• Levels of most atmospheric air pollutants detected were generally below relevant national air quality objectives. Increased levels of airborne particles were associated with dust from vehicle movement.
• Hydraulic fracturing chemicals were not detected in water samples taken from nearby groundwater bores, soil samples from sites adjacent to operational wells, or in water samples from a nearby creek.
• Water produced from the wells immediately after fracturing contained hydraulic fracturing chemicals, elevated concentrations of major ions (salts), ammonia, organic carbon, some metals and organic compounds, with concentrations reducing to a pre-fractured state within 40 days.
• Current water treatment operations are effective in removing hydraulic fracturing chemicals and geogenic chemicals either completely or reducing levels to within acceptable limits according to water quality guidelines.
• Some types of biocides used in hydraulic fracturing fluids and some geogenic chemicals were completely degraded in soil samples within two to three days.
• Soil microbial activity was reduced by the addition of hydraulic fracturing fluids and produced water.