INDUSTRY, Government and the public will now have access to “live” monitoring of air quality in some key coal seam gas (CSG) areas within the Surat Basin in Queensland.
The CSIRO, through the Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA), is leading a study which includes collection of air quality measurements through a network of five ambient air quality stations in the Chinchilla, Miles and Condamine region.
According to the CSIRO, specialised instruments are measuring a wide range of pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and particles in the atmosphere.
The data collected is streamed live to the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection website, with the data available online for anyone to live-stream.
According to CSIRO atmospheric researcher, Sarah Lawson, live streaming the data shows transparency of the data collection process.
“The data is accessible to everyone which means local communities and the general public can stay informed about the air quality in the Western Downs region, how it compares to other parts of Queensland and how levels compare to the government’s air quality standards,” Ms Lawson said.
The Air Quality Monitoring team within the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation (DSITI) will be responsible for publishing the air quality monitoring data on the DEHP website.
Queensland Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy, Leeanne Enoch said this was a great example of scientific collaboration between CSIRO and Queensland Government.
“Hosting the live air quality data from coal seam gas regions to local community and people of Queensland is a great way to show transparency and build confidence in the research that is taking place,” Ms Enoch said.
An air quality model will also be used to explore the degree to which different emission sources in the Surat Basin contribute to the levels of air pollution.
The model includes a variety of natural and man-made emission sources including the CSG industry, power stations, mines, livestock production, motor vehicles, bushfires, and vegetation.
By running the model with different emission sources switched on and off, the degree of contribution from sources, including the CSG industry can be investigated.
The model will also provide an understanding of the distribution of pollutants over a much larger area than can be determined by fixed monitoring stations.
“Both the air quality data and modelling results can be used by government to inform policy and regulations around CSG development and by industry to focus on improving practices that reduce emissions of pollutants” Ms Lawson said.
GISERA is a collaborative vehicle established to undertake publicly-reported independent research addressing the socio-economic and environmental impacts of Australia’s natural gas industries. The governance structure for GISERA is designed to provide for and protect research independence and transparency of funded research.