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Environment Protection Authority

Environmental Issues

Air - NSW overview

Fugitive methane emissions study

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) commissioned the CSIRO to undertake a wide ranging study of fugitive methane emissions from some of the major land uses across NSW.

Methane is a gas that exists naturally and is also generated by human activity. It is a component of the earth's atmosphere at low concentrations. We inhale methane and numerous other gases when we breathe.

Sources of methane emissions in the environment include wetlands, native forests, landfills, rice farms, coal mines, coal seam gas sites, sewage treatment plants and intensive agricultural sites.

To examine the levels of methane from the various land uses in NSW the CSIRO measured atmospheric methane levels at 16 sites across the state from June 2014 to May 2016. These included coal seam gas, landfill, agricultural, coal mining, wastewater treatment and a forest and a wetland site.

To quantify background atmospheric methane levels across New South Wales, more than 25,000 kilometres of mobile surveys across the state were also conducted using a vehicle mounted instrument.

Additionally, the project included the assessment of ambient concentrations of over 120 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to analyse whether specific compounds can be attributed to a particular source and gain an understanding of source related impacts on air quality.

This study has generated a valuable snapshot of some of the key methane emissions sources in New South Wales.

The study has also developed a robust set of repeatable monitoring methodologies appropriate for site specific deployment.

The EPA will use the results of the study to guide future research projects, focus regulatory priorities and aid in the identification of emissions sources during complex air emissions investigations.

The results of this study will complement other air emissions work that is currently underway in NSW and will provide additional information to assist in understanding greenhouse gas emissions, to support implementation of the NSW Climate Change Policy Framework.

The final report is available for download: Methane and Volatile Organic Compound Emissions in New South Wales (PDF MB 11.7)

A fact sheet on methane (PDF 470KB) is also available to download.

Page last updated: 12 April 2017