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Newly discovered surveillance method finds dozens of major gas leaks: 'They are freely releasing [it]'

"I saw methane pouring out of the equipment, sometimes from three to four different point sources."

Thermal imaging, Method finds dozens of major gas leaks

Photo Credit: iStock

Thermal imaging like that used in the movie "Predator" is seeking out a new monster: invisible pollution. 

In Australia, specifically the states of New South Wales and Queensland, imaging technology is being used to reveal methane gas leaks from coal-seam gas pipes, Yahoo News Australia reported

What's happening? 

A stunning video taken with the gas imaging technology, which showed the infrared energy emitted by the methane as it entered the atmosphere, was released following a joint investigation by the Australian Conservation Foundation and global nonprofit Clean Air Task Force

Investigators said they saw "alarming levels of climate-damaging gas pollution" from 100 sources across 35 industrial sites. 

Origin Energy's Talinga and Condomine gas fields were the "most shocking," according to one investigator. 

"Wherever I pointed my camera, I saw methane pouring out of the equipment, sometimes from three to four different point sources," Clean Air Task Force thermographer Théophile Humann-Guilleminot told Yahoo.

"In times of heated debates on energy cost," he furthered, "seeing all this gas wasted and supercharging climate change is deeply worrying."

In response, Origin said it surveyed the wells imaged by ACF over the last six to 10 months and concluded they are "operating in line with their design." 

Santos, which had one of its facilities tested, said it "responded immediately" to a letter from ACF and checked its pipes to ensure that "no leaks were detected."  

Why is this leakage concerning? 

Just as Humann-Guilleminot said, this effect on the climate is worrying. Methane is a highly potent planet-warming gas. 

Pound for pound, it can be 28 times or more as powerful in warming the Earth than carbon dioxide, according to the United Nations. It has been estimated that since industrialization, methane could be responsible for 30% of the rise in the planet's temperature, according to Yahoo. 

Gas is one of the main sources of pollution in Australia, and last year, as one of about 150 countries, the nation agreed to the Global Methane Pledge. So, stopping these gas leaks would go a long way in helping Australia hit its climate goals and slow the overheating of our planet. 

What's being done to stop the gas leaks?

These dirty energy companies claim they take the leaks seriously. Origin said it's working to convert old instrumentation that emits gas to machines that use compressed air or electrification to reduce emissions. 

Another of the companies reported that it had new gas detection technology to provide further insight into the problem.

ACF, however, isn't convinced by their claims and is urging the Federal Labor Government to establish a plan that requires companies to measure and report their methane emissions accurately.

"They are freely releasing an extremely potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere," investigator Annica Schoo told Yahoo. "We are in a climate emergency."

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