Australian MP sets river on fire

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“We’re aware of concerns regarding bubbling of the Condamine River, in particular, recent videos demonstrating that this naturally occurring gas is flammable when ignited,” the company said in a statement to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Da fuq? It’s not “naturally occurring” when fracking caused it.

Greedy bastards.


I really feel like this should be a Men At Work or Midnight Oil song.

♬_How can we sleep when our river beds are burning?_♫


:musical_note: Now that it’s fucked, let’s give it back! :musical_note:

(I wonder whatever happened to that lead singer? I remember hearing that he’s actually a lawyer.)


Fracking is safe…

Thanks for the laugh!


I don’t think that common sense includes thinking of rivers as fire hazards.


He went on to a career in politics. Some might say that he sold out to some (or a great) extent once he became immersed in that grubby world. He’s lived quite a life thus far, by any measure.


So if a fire department needs to draw water from the river to put out a fire, and the contaminated water actually made the fire worse, would this fracking company be somehow liable for arson or some other fire-related crime?


Talk about double standards… when I set the forest next to my local fracking well on fire, they just locked me up.


Awesome. Australia now has its own Love Canal.

And somehow this isn’t a problem.


Oh man this is a great line, whoever wrote this probably sprouted horns and a tail and got sucked down a fiery hole in the ground to their new upper management position in Hell, overseeing Lakes & Rivers, Fire & Brimstone Division.

So, don’t drink the water, swim in it, fish from it, careful with that outboard motor when boating, and to demonstrate the most common sense just avoid the area altogether. And please remember everybody, smoking is bad for your health, sometimes in ways you didn’t foresee, so don’t smoke.


Having seen them live in concert once I imagine he must be quite a politician. He was very energetic and passionate and between songs spoke thoughtfully about current issues in a way that, thankfully for my ears, made the entire place go quiet.


I grew up with their music in 'straya. I found the overt politics and preachiness of the lyrics unappealing, but it was great music.

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Wow, I knew Australians were tough, what with the world’s highest concentration of poisonous species, but being able to set your drinking water on fire is a new one.

What’s next, substituting sandpaper for toilet paper?


So he had a second career after the band?

I don’t see how that is selling out.


“As you can see Your Honor, it’s not my client’s fault, because methane gas is a naturally occurring phenomenon.”


He was a hugely disappointing politician, although most of that was due to the bastardry of the party establishment.

The ALP decided that he was of most use to them as a way to counteract the Greens, who had been making gains in traditional ALP seats. He spent pretty much his entire parliamentary career uncomfortably arguing against the politics represented in his music and earlier activism.


If you live upstream, of course it’s safe!

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This is where I have to inject a bit of annoyance about the burning water gimmick: It’s a gimmick. It annoys me for the same reason claims about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch’s size annoy me: Whether it’s larger than Texas or not is less of an issue than the fact that we’re dumping so much plastic into the ocean. This focus on the most visible parts of the problem detract from some real and salient environmental issues that are in fact invisible. The problem with fracking is not the offgassing of methane in water which subsequently burns in air. Methane is a greenhouse gas, and we should all be concerned about its free release into the atmosphere, but what’s happening here is a sort of false intuition pump: Water “burning” (the water isn’t actually burning, just the gasses coming out of solution) is “not normal” therefore fracking is bad. Methane, as hydrocarbons go, is actually the least of anyone’s concern. There’s a fire hazard, no doubt, but the real problems with fracking don’t show up when you try to set water on fire. If you boil groundwater affected by fracking, it will no longer catch fire because you’ll force all of the dissolved gasses (or at least a significant quantity) out of solution. It will, however, retain various hydrocarbons which will not burn because they do not come out of solution so easily, but these pose a risk to health and the environment, as well as various dangerous substances found in fracking fluid.

The problem I have is that people think that the dangers of an environmental hazard are always obvious and visible and immediate. The reality here is that the various interests can legitimately argue than methane seepage isn’t a real direct threat to human safety (because it isn’t) at the expense of the credibility of people who otherwise have legitimate concerns about fracking.

It may seem like I’m picking nits here, but it’s important. If we object to methane coming out of the water, it’s going to be because its a greenhouse gas, not because it’s toxic. It’s flammable, and accumulation in partially enclosed spaces like wells presents explosion hazards. If we’re concerned about fracking fluid reaching groundwater sources, it’s going to be because it migrates there over the course of years, not immediately. We’re worried about earthquakes increasing the cost of local infrastructure. Where fracking fluids seem to have contaminated municipal water sources has a great deal more to do with improper storage of materials above ground, rather than injection of materials below ground. These are real, important, concerns that require immediate action. Tap water catching fire is… actually kind of the least of your worries. Even the water currently being drunk by people living in the vicinity is unlikely to have been exposed to fracking chemicals, it’s the granchildren living in the same area that are likely to be the victims of groundwater contamination.

People should be concerned about the environment long before, and completely without, the aid of theatrics. The problem is that the issues surrounding fracking are not overstated, but completely misstated.


But as you yourself acknowledge, it’s “theatrics.” Setting a river on fire gets the point across to people who otherwise don’t see it that fracking is bad for the environment. It’s a sort of wedge issue, or an attention-hook, that can lead to exposure and understanding of the greater problems that you spelled out, no?