This is a film about a bunch of ordinary people caught up in a modern day multinational “gold rush” to secure and exploit coal seam gas.
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Fracking is an issue that is presenting difficult questions for all of Australia’s political parties, but at its heart is a very human drama. What we find is that smouldering resentment has turned conservative country people to civil disobedience. Politicians with their snouts in the trough are caught off-guard not knowing who to support.
Our central character is Dayne Pratzky – a knockabout pig shooter building a simple home on his block of land in Central Queensland. One day the gas company comes calling and demands access to his land for gas mining. Dayne is told he has no right to refuse access to his land, and so begins his journey as a reluctant activist that will take him around the world.
Dayne introduces us to the people drawn into a battle that is crossing the ideological divide, bringing together a peculiar alliance of farmers, conservationists and political conservatives. Along the way Dayne finds love, tragedy and triumph as he battles to save his community from becoming an industrial wasteland. There are laughs, tears and near death experiences, and a raft of colourful Aussie Bush characters.
But it’s the underlying theme that is critical: Who owns our land? Who owns our future? Can we balance competing claims for our water, food and energy and still preserve the environment?
One thing is certain: the rush to extract Coal Seam Gas is changing our way of life and forcing us to ask tough questions about what we value.
Unconventional gas basics:
Unconventional gas exploration and/or production is now taking place in all Australian states. Coal seam gas, shale gas and tight gas differ from natural gas because they are more difficult to extract and cannot be developed with conventional processes.
In the last ten years, the industry has expanded rapidly with Australia set to be the world’s biggest exporter of gas by 2020.
What’s the problem?
Unconventional gas production is highly invasive above and below ground, requiring massive numbers of wells and intrusive extraction methods such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
Fracking involves high-pressure injection of large volumes of water, sand, radioactive tracers and chemical additives into the ground to fracture the source rock and stimulate gas flow. Many chemicals used in fracking are toxic and have not been assessed for environmental and health impacts. There is significant concern that these chemicals can contaminate water sources. Fracking can also cause earthquakes. A report by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia summarised: “In addition to concerns over contamination of aquifers from the chemicals added to fracking fluid, issues have also been raised about contamination of water supplies from fugitive gas after fracking, and seismic activity and tremors associated with the drilling and fracking process”.
Because coal seams contain both water and gas, large volumes of ground water must also be extracted during coal seam gas drilling. This wastewater is generally salty and may contain toxic chemicals, radioactive compounds, and heavy metals. There is no proven safe method to properly dispose of this waste.
What is BTEX?
BTEX is an acronym that stands for benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes, which are volatile organic compounds (VOCs). BTEX can be naturally occurring and benzene is a known carcinogen (cancer causing).
BTEX chemicals have been used in fracking fluids used by coal seam gas companies. The use of BTEX by coal seam gas operators has been banned in both NSW and QLD, however the process of hydraulic fracturing can release naturally occurring BTEX so it remains a risk factor during coal seam gas operations even when regulation is in place to ban gas companies using it as an additive during drilling.
How much water is involved in coal seam gas exploration and production?
The amount of water involved in coal seam gas operations varies from project to project. The CSIRO says: No two wells or coal seams behave identically and water production can vary from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of litres a day, depending on the underground water pressures and geology.
Landholder’s rights to refuse access
Unconventional gas resources are owned by the Crown, not the property owner. The Crown provides access to these resources to gas companies and gives landholders only a minor right to ‘negotiate’ an access agreement and compensation deal with those companies. If a landholder does not negotiate an agreement, then the gas company can take the matter to arbitration and then to a court if it wants to force access.
Summary of negative impacts from invasive gas mining
- Industrialisation of whole regions with wells, roads, pipelines, and infrastructure, and accompanying reduced quality of life for rural residents.
- Serious health effects experienced in communities living near gasfields in the US and Queensland.
- Splitting of families as rural residents are forced to leave their family farms and homes over health concerns
- Significant devaluation of properties of residents living near gas infrastructure
- Loss and contamination of agricultural land for food production
- Contamination of ground and surface waters with toxic chemicals and methane.
- Release of hazardous air pollutants from venting, flaring and wastewater evaporation.
- Depletion of water resources from well dewatering and use in fracking.
- Substantial greenhouse emissions from methane leakage.
- Fragmentation and destruction of native forests and critical wildlife habitat.
- Increased earthquake activity from fracking and wastewater re-injection.
You can find out more about the documentary or to view it at the Offical Website which is