Linc charged amid claims that ground could ignite
A GAS company has been accused of contaminating a parcel of prime farmland west of Dalby with potentially explosive hydrogen as part of its controversial underground coal gasification process.
The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection yesterday filed a complaint in the Dalby Magistrates Court alleging Linc Energy wilfully and unlawfully caused serious environmental harm at its underground coal gasification (UCG) plant near Chinchilla.
Linc is already facing four other environmental charges over the same operation, each with the potential for a $6 million fine. A similar UCG project in Kingaroy, operated by Cougar Energy, was shut down by the Bligh gov- ernment after groundwater was contaminated and Environment Minister Steve Miles said Cabinet would have to decide its future.
Mr Miles last night met with Hopeland community members to assure them they were safe. It is claimed Linc operated outside its environment authority and that hydrogen, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide leached into the land over a 320sq km area. The plant was closed more than a year ago. Mr Miles said the land was safe for grazing and crops but digging could create a spark and ignite the gas.
Linc is fighting the claims and accused the Government of a haphazard investigation. “The minister and director- general have refused to meet with Linc despite numerous requests,” a spokesman said.
Hopeland community spokeswoman Shay Dougall said landowners were angry risks were allegedly taken with their land.
ANGRY LANDOWNERS: Shay Dougall says residents are concerned over the allegations. Picture: Steve Pohlner