CSIRO methane emissions study

As part of its commitment to use the best available science to reduce human impacts on the environment, the EPA commissioned the CSIRO to study fugitive methane emissions from major industrial sites and natural sources of methane across NSW.

About methane

Methane is a gas that exists naturally. It is a component of the earth's atmosphere at low concentrations. We inhale methane and numerous other gases when we breathe. Natural sources of methane include wetlands and native forests.

Methane is also generated by industrial activity, including emissions from

  • landfills
  • rice farms
  • coal mines
  • coal seam gas sites
  • sewage treatment plants
  • intensive agricultural sites

Find out more about methane (PDF 470KB)

Assessing methane emissions and volatile organic compounds


  • examined the atmospheric levels of methane at 16 sites across NSW from June 2014 to May 2016, including coal seam gas, landfill, agricultural, coal mining and wastewater treatment sites; and a forest and wetland
  • quantified background atmospheric methane levels across NSW by conducting more than 25,000 kilometres of mobile surveys using a vehicle mounted instrument
  • assessed the ambient concentrations of over 120 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to analyse whether specific VOCs can be attributed to a particular source, and to understand source-related impacts on air quality

Study findings

The CSIRO provided a report, Methane and volatile organic compound emissions in New South Wales (PDF MB 11.7), containing

  • reliable methods for measuring methane and VOCs across a range of industries and land uses
  • a valuable snapshot of key methane emission sources in NSW
  • information on background methane emissions across the state.

Research, regulatory focus and emissions investigations

The EPA will use the results of the study to

  • guide future research projects
  • focus regulatory priorities
  • help identify emissions sources during complex air emissions investigations
  • complement other air emissions work that is currently under way in NSW
  • build understanding of methane and non-methane air emissions to assist in understanding greenhouse gas emissions and support implementation of the NSW Climate Change Policy Framework


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