In Queensland test bores sunk and abandoned more than 30 years ago have been found leaking methane into the atmosphere and are likely to have been doing so for decades. These fugitive emissions are not counted in the nation’s carbon budget. Methane is up to 84 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period.
Other research suggests that many unconventional gas wells leak. Some leak as soon as they are sunk, others corrode over time and later start to leak.
People living near gas vents and wells in Queensland have suffered a range of unexplained illnesses including frequent headaches and blood noses. Those affected have put their health impacts down to air pollution from fugitive emissions from gas wells.
In Porter Ranch Southern California a major gas leak has caused health impacts including persistent nose bleeds in the population. The situation was so bad that around 2,500 people had to be evacuated from their homes in early 2016. The cause of the massive leak is thought to be related to fracking. Investigations are continuing.
In Camden in Sydney’s western suburbs gas wells located close to people’s homes were found to be leaking in August 2014 and gas company AGL was fined $15,000 over the pollution event.
In the Kimberley, a concerned member of the public found a gas well leaking detectable amounts of gas in January 2015 and took a video of the event. A subsequent court case revealed that the well had not been monitored by the company or the government regulators for years.