Gas project linked to illness, damage to cropping land

THERE are calls for underground coal gasification to be banned in Australia after reports people exposed to a controversial Darling Downs project suffered serious health effects.

ABC reports that a Queensland Government commissioned report found  Linc Energy's experimental plant near Chinchilla, west of Toowoomba, caused "irreversible" damage to strategic cropping land.

The report claims government workers were hospitalised with suspected gas poisoning during soil testing in March.

The State Government report will not be released until next month, which has angered landholders living near the Linc Energy site.


Hopeland Community Sustainability Group's Shay Dougall said landowners were disgusted after three years living "24/7 with the UCG nightmare".

"We're told the government investigators became sick, but what about the landholders who have lived with this toxic mix constantly?" she said.

"The department still thinks we should not be told the results until September - that's gross negligence and an utter cover-up.

"The contaminants are still there and we are being subjected to them on a daily basis. We'd like to know when this mess is going to be cleaned up and what sort of management of the landholders' health and safety is being undertaken and what compensation we can expect for this unsafe experiment.

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"The same landholders that have had to deal with threat of contamination are being bullied by Origin to give them access to drill holes and further interact with the contamination.  Why is the government  allowing this very productive community to be hung out to dry?"

Lock the Gate Alliance's Drew Hutton said UCG should be banned immediately and called for an urgent investigation of possible contamination from the Carbon Energy's UCG plant, near Kogan on the Darling Downs, which was supposedly decommissioned but was seen flaring last month.

"Five years ago I warned the State Government that it should not allow UCG in Queensland because of its potential for serious contamination," he said.

"They went ahead anyway and now we are left with the toxic legacy of this industry.

"This dangerous experiment should never have been started and it should be immediately banned around Australia."

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