Australian scientists discover that groundwater on the Australian mainland can seep into the ocean

I thought this marvellous anti-development beatup too good not to share – “CSG water may pose risk to coast: experts”
May we ask – and before 2002 they did not know that groundwater can seep to the sea ?

5 comments to Australian scientists discover that groundwater on the Australian mainland can seep into the ocean

  • David Brewer

    It’s usually fairly easy to follow the could-might-maybe logic of these beat-ups.
    In this case, it runs as follows: coal seam gas can pollute groundwater, groundwater seeps into ocean, Great Barrier Reef is under threat.

    The one concession to facts is to acknowledge that the CSIRO “has stated that fracking poses a low risk to groundwater quality through contamination”.

    So the groundwater won’t get contaminated in the first place, until some other “research” casts “doubt” on this.

    What the article lacks, however, is any sense of the reality of this whole situation. If there were any contamination from CSG it would be minor. Many other pollutants, such as agricultural runoff, are in the water that seeps into the ground. Natural processes purify groundwater. The amount of groundwater that seeps into the ocean is infinitesimal compared to the volume of water in the ocean, and the potential volume of groundwater pollutants is nothing compared with the pollutants already released directly into the ocean, or into the river water that directly enters the ocean.

    In other words, the whole scenario is rubbish, as anyone with the slightest grasp of physical reality can see.

    Still, the clear subtext is “more research necessary, say Aussie uni battlers”. In other words, it’s the usual ” iron triangle” (Lindzen) of scientists, advocates and politicians, inventing a problem and creating an industry around it. I am sick of having my taxes pissed up the wall on such nonsense.

  • Agree David B. Many do not realise that there is a Sydney Basin which holds a number of coal seams. These outcrop in the southern highlands (Berrima, Bowral Mittagong area), Lithgow area, Mudgee area, and in the upper Hunter Valley area-Muswellbrook which are still the main mining areas. The basin and coal seams go under Sydney and out into the ocean. Coal has been mined from under Sydney Harbour, and under the sea off Wollongong and Newcastle. The coal seams are solid and do not contain water. The water table is above the main coal seems. During mining water can drain into coal drives, or headings from faults which displace the relatively slightly dipping from horizontal seams. The water ingress is slight and can be controlled by pumping. Water through faults can also come to the surface. These are often called springs. Of course water in sandstone seams will come up in places under the ocean. That has nothing to do with coal mining or with CSG extraction.
    All those who spread misinformation about CSG should be compulsorily taken down a deep coal mine (preferably under the ocean) to see for themselves the nature of coal and the location of the water table. Pity the Sydney Balmain mine is shut-in. That would have been perfect for the Latte set living around there.

  • Bob in Castlemaine

    I would have thought that coal bed methane extraction techniques would be fairly well established by now, after all the process has been in use for decades? Surely dealing with the water extracted from coal beds and consequential ground subsidence are more likely to present problems? Undoubtedly ground water contamination can be an issue for those relying on ground water, but to extrapolate this to ocean pollution is pushing credibility a bit too far. Maybe the well known analogy “like p*****g in the ocean” is appropriate?
    The big unresolved issue in both NSW and Queensland at the moment seems to be resolving disputes over competing land use between rural residents and mining companies.

  • Philip Bradley

    Aquifer seepage into the ocean will be from shallow aquifers in unconsolidated surface deposits, such as the Perth sand plain, and I assume sand filling old river valleys in the east.

    Coal is in sedimentary rocks a few 10s of millions of years old. These rock stratas often contain aquifers, but only in rare circumstances will this water reach the surface or seep into the ocean and then only in very small amounts.

    Fracking coal seams will likely cause seepage from nearby aquifers, but this water will never get into the oceans. Except when water that comes up the fracking pipe and is disposed of on the surface.

  • Graeme Inkster

    And how soluble is the gas anyway?
    www.engineeringtoolbox.com/gases-solubility-water-d_1148.html
    gives a solubility of about 0.0007% or 7ppm at 80C. Pressure would increase that, but any water seeping into the ocean would be cooled rapidly, increasing the solubility in sea water. There it would be subject to biological action, hence – “which coincide with rich pockets of sea life including prawns and fish”.

    Why do they object to an increase in the marine life?