Linc Energy Underground Coal Gasification Plant fined $4.5million, but Leigh Creek still under threat

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After an earlier conviction for causing serious environmental harm at their underground coal gasification plant in Queensland, Linc Energy have been fined $4.5 million.

Linc Energy was charged with five counts of wilfully and unlawfully causing serious environmental harm between 2007 and 2013 at their experimental Chinchilla plant.

It was found that Linc Energy grossly mismanaged underground burning of coal seams. This caused the rock to fracture and allowed the escape of toxic gases which contaminated the land, water and air.


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Judge Michael Shanahan said "Linc was well aware of the damage being done … and attempted to hide it from the regulator."

Judge Shanahan was unsure how the company would pay the fines given that it was in a state of liquidation.

Five of Linc Energy's executive directors are due to face court in July after being charged with failing to ensure compliance of the company.

Despite the failure of this unproven technology at Chichilla and the subsequent banning of the process by the Queensland government, plans are afoot for another underground coal gasification facility at Leigh Creek on Adnyamathanha land (South Australia).

The Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA) are joined by Friends of the Earth and many others in condemning the Leigh Creek Energy proposed project in light of the Linc Energy disaster.

Back in April, the ATLA CEO Vince Coulthard said to local media that it is time to “heal this area, not fill it with poison”. Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners are also facing a threat from a national nuclear waster dump.

William Light Foundation is currently seeking a Federal Court injunction to stop the controversial practice of underground coal gasification mining in Leigh Creek and recently RMIT University's Associate Professor Gavin Mudd and Dr Matthew Currell wrote a letter detailing their concerns about the Leigh Creek Energy Project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR)

Friends of the Earth spokeperson Cam Walker said "We cannot let agricultural land, ground water and natural environments become the collateral damage of these high risk mining experiments, especially when we have safe, renewable energy options available."

"There is no room for this dangerous, high emissions technology in a forward thinking country."

The new Minister for Energy and Mining, Dan van Holst Pellekaan, issued environmental objective approval for the project recently and Leigh Creek Energy say they expect to start work in June.

Friends of the Earth are calling on the Federal Environment Minister, Josh Frydenberg, to ban this dangerous technology.


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