Linc Energy's pilot plant near Chinchilla.
Linc Energy's pilot plant near Chinchilla. Contributed

Linc Energy rejects Hopeland soil poisoning claims

LINC Energy has rejected claims aired in an ABC news documentary this week that government workers who fell ill after visiting an underground coal gasification site at Hopeland was a result of the trial site.

The program, which aired on Monday night, centred on a State Government commissioned report that found Linc Energy's experimental plant near Chinchilla had caused "irreversible" damage to strategic cropping land.

The report said government workers visiting the site with company employees were hospitalised with suspected gas poisoning during soil testing.

It said four people admitted themselves to hospital after the March visit as a precautionary measure, but two Linc employees did not suffer the same symptoms.

A Linc investigation into the incident rejected any connection between chemical exposure at the site and the symptoms.

"Based upon evidence provided and acknowledging limitation in fact discovery, there is a lack of causal evidence to support that the (Department of Environment and Heritage Protection) work parties (that reported health effects) were caused as a result of exposure received due to work activities and/or atmospheric contaminants/hazards at the Linc Energy (site)," the report said.

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The DEHP report is expected to be released next month, but anti-coal groups such as the Hopeland Community Sustainability Group have seized on the ABC's report as validating their long-held concerns about UCG.

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."

Lock the Gate Alliance's Drew Hutton said UCG should be banned.

Should underground coal gasification be banned in Australia?

This poll ended on 22 August 2015.

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"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."

Darling Downs Environment Council organiser Paul King said the group would support any civil actions brought by the community in light the DEHP report.



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