An Australian MP is blaming nearby fracking for making it possible for him to set a river on fire.
Jeremy Buckingham, a Greens party MP for New South Wales, Australia, posted a video which features him leaning down from a boat with a lighter in hand.
The Australian politician then clicks the lighter above the surface of the Condamine River, and surprisingly, there is an explosion as the water around the boat lights up.
Buckingham is seen to be recoiling and exclaiming in shock, “Unbelievable. A river on fire. Don't let it burn the boat.”
The Australian MP stated the river — which is an important source of water for drinking and agriculture — burned for over an hour and methane gas, leaking from a nearby fracking operation, was responsible for it.
His claim may well be true as coal seam gas leakage in the Condamine has been documented since 2012. In fact, environmentalists believe it’s not just methane but other poisonous gases that may be making their way into the water and wreaking havoc on its ecosystem.
Yet, Origin Energy, that owns wells in the region, disagrees. The company issued a statement that said: “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.”
The Australian energy company also states that fracking might not be the only thing responsible for the flammable water. It outlined several scenarios which involved natural events like drought or the recharging of aquifers after floods.
Professor Damian Barret, who is a leading researcher at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and who has been monitoring the Condamine gas leakage, says the rate of gas flow has been steadily increasing since the past year. Yet, he also backs up the energy company calling the gas seep in the river because of fracking “unlikely.”
“It’s not to rule it out completely, but we don’t see a direct connection, a direct relationship, between what’s happening on the gas fields up to this point in time and what’s happening in the river,” Barret said.“The nature of the way those coals are laid down … those beds are discontinuous, they don’t tend to form natural connections.”