Scientist says no to gas exploration

A fracking well in Colorado, pictured in 2012

A scientist took a closer look at the proposed gas exploration on Farms Leeuwpoort and Driefontein on the outskirts of eMalahleni.

Karel Lewy-Phillips, a scientist who majored in environmental impacts of unconventional gas at Edinburgh University is worried about the environmental scars the exploration will leave.

Lewy-Phillips raised the specific concern that to test Coal Bed Methane (CBM) wells for viable flows of gas, groundwater in the coal seam must be pumped till below the coal seam.

“Dr Marianne Lloyd-Smith of the National Toxics Network in Australia has first hand experience of leading water treatment technology like reverse osmosis not being able to remove the benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes (BTEX) carcinogens nor the low molecular weight radioactivity. There are no viable disposal options for the salt nor the contaminated water. South Africa is also lacking pollutant monitoring and reporting guidelines specific to this industry, so what would the ‘responsible persons’ test for,” he said.

Lewy-Phillips pointed out that coal seams can emit methane through the soil into surface water and this is disastrous.

Another warning sign he focuses on is that spontaneous combustion of the dry underground coal seam can occur, and in these events hydrogen sulfide is a concern.

To read more on Lewy-Phillips’ concerns don’t miss your copy of Witbank News on Friday, August 11.

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  AUTHOR
Zita Goldswain
Assistant Editor

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