The Courier-Mail

SCORCHED EARTH

Linc charged amid claims that ground could ignite

- JOHN MCCARTHY

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
ANGRY LANDOWNERS: Shay Dougall says residents are concerned over the allegation­s. Picture: Steve Pohlner

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