Environmental campaigner Drew Hutton.
Environmental campaigner Drew Hutton. Katie Lingard

Nosebleeds linked to CSG in Tara

UPDATE: The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association has refuted claims that a hydrogen sulphide smell in the Tara residential estate is a result of coal seam gas industry operations.

The reaction came after the Lock the Gate Alliance alleged Tara residents reported nosebleeds and chronic headaches stemming from suspected coal seam gas leaks.

Lock the Gate president Drew Hutton said gas smelling like "rotten eggs" and another "sweet-smelling" gas was leaking in the town.

Mr Hutton believed the "rotten egg" gas was hydrogen sulphide and the "sweet-smelling" gas was nitrous oxide.

He believed both gases came from the same place as the methane - the de-watered coal seams from which coal seam gas companies are extracting both water and gas.

"When water is extracted from the coal seam, the resultant de-pressurisation releases methane and other gases, much of which will be collected by the gas well... but some could find other pathways to the surface, depending on the level of inter-connectedness," Mr Hutton said.

"If the material overlaying the coal seam contained such potential pathways then you would expect methane and other gases to travel to the surface where they would present a major health hazard."

Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association eastern region chief operating officer Rick Wilkinson said the claims were unfounded.

"Natural gas from coal seams is typically methane, with small percentages of nitrogen, ethane and carbon dioxide,"  he said.

"Coal seam gas does not contain hydrogen sulphide.

"These claims are typical of the wild, shrill and broadly denigrating statements by opponents of the gas industry and should be treated as such."

The APPEA said the smells could be linked to the agriculture industry and the prevalence of strong-smelling fertilisers and chemicals in the region whose scents could be carried on the wind.

"Hydrogen sulphide is a natural by-product of the decay of vegetation and can be present in the natural environment after wet periods," a statement said.

"It is also commonly generated in rotting eggs and sewage farms."