Gas trial bungle slammed by judge

Cougar Energy's Kingaroy underground coal gasification site may have been shut down by the Queensland Government but the company has raised $2.7 million to pursue with offshore projects.
Cougar Energy's Kingaroy underground coal gasification site may have been shut down by the Queensland Government but the company has raised $2.7 million to pursue with offshore projects. Eddie Hueppauff

IN A blow to supporters of coal gas exploration, an energy company which allowed deadly toxins to enter underground water at Kingaroy has been ordered by a court to decommission and rehabilitate the site.

Cougar Energy operated one of three underground coal gasification pilot projects using methods which could be used in the Warwick area if suitable coal deposits were found here.

The Cougar trial at Kingaroy began in March 2010, using technology which involved drilling bore holes into a coal seam and injecting steam and oxygen under pressure and igniting the mixture underground to force coal gas to the surface.

But within just five days of operation - on March 15 - the Cougar well underwent a major failure involving the cracking of its cement lining, which allowed the toxic carcinogens benzene and toluene to enter surrounding underground water supplies. Similar failures have occurred in tests in the United States.

Cougar advised the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) that a "flare malfunction" causing movement of the well casing had taken place, but it took the company until June 30 to come clean about the leaching of contaminants.

DERM ordered the pilot trial to stop on July 17, pending further monitoring and later ordered Cougar to decommission and rehabilitate the site before any further trials could take place.

Cougar appealed the order in the Planning and Environment Court of Queensland, which yesterday ruled the DERM orders would stand.

Judge Richard Jones delivered a 14 page ruling in which he slammed Cougar Energy for its repeated assertions that no environmental harm had taken place due to the cracking of the well, noting that there is no "safe" concentration level for benzene in drinking water.

He also noted the contaminated water at Kingaroy could be a potential future source of potable human drinking water and that the precautionary principle must apply.

"On the evidence before me, I am satisfied that the potential for environmental harm associated with this case is real," he said.

"(Cougar's) position seems not only to be contradicted by the scientific evidence but also the definition of environmental harm as defined in the Environmental Protection Act which ... includes not only adverse effects but potential adverse effects".

Cougar Energy was yet to issue a statement by time of printing last night.


What do you think?

Do we know enough about underground coal gas generation? Have your say online at www.

Topics:  cougar energy csg industry derm kingaroy

Date nights under $50

ACCORDING to The Bachelor falling in love involves helicopter rides, private jets, shopping trips, and we mustn’t forget the hot tubs.

Brisbane's arts and culture events centre stage

You loved the film, now you're about to love the musical. Don't miss The Bodyguard The Musical in Brisbane this July.

THE arts and culture events you don't want to miss.

Homewares stores to fulfil your Instagram dreams

No Caption

You too can become an Insta-star with these fab stores.

Top 10 Brisbane experiences to cross off your bucket list

Do yourself a favour and get amongst the food truck scene. Eat Street is a great place to start.

A GOOD bucket list doesn’t have to span continents or cost millions.

Six mega sporting events you need to be at this year

Don't miss all the action trackside this season.

IF THERE is one thing Brisbane does damn well, it’s play host.

Six reasons to get to Brisbane this Autumn

The Brisbane Powerhouse has free comedy on Friday nights.

AUTUMN has to be up there with one of the best seasons of the year.

The best things to do in Brisbane are FREE. Yes, FREE

Mt Coot-tha is a seriously gorgeous way to start your day.

HEADING to the big smoke doesn’t have to come with a big price tag.

McCulkin jury may consider manslaughter as an alternative

Vincent O'Dempsey.

"We know that he's a jealous, violent man,” the court heard.

Council moves into confidential sessions

NEW PROJECTS: Southern Downs Regional Council has been given almost $3 million through the Works for Queensland funding.

Councils are allowed to discuss matters in a closed session

Second drink driving charge in two weeks

Warwick Court House

His licence was immediately suspended

Local Partners

Rebel Wilson says she didn’t have to lie to make it

I’M not glamorous, but that doesn’t make me a liar: that’s the message from Rebel Wilson on her second day in the witness box.

All bets on Judah to win battle to become the Voice

Judah Kelly from The Voice.

Judah Kelly is the clear favourite to win the competition.

Kim Kardashian slammed over Manchester tribute

Kim Kardashian's tribute to Manchester didn't go down well

Top Gun 2 movie is happening, Tom Cruise confirms

Tom Cruise in a scene from the movie Top Gun.

TOM Cruise delights fans with announcement on Sunrise.

The first Baywatch movie reviews are in

From left, Jon Bass, Alex Daddario, Zac Efron, Dwayne Johnson, Kelly Rohrbach, and Ilfenesh Hadera in a scene from the movie Baywatch.

Critics were less than impressed.

Boyfriend loses it over sex lie

Stacey Louise’s sex lie destroys her relationship.

SEVEN Year Switch’s Stacey told a fib about her sex life.

Why Crowe’s thankful for those ‘bulls**t’ rumours

Russell Crowe and Terri Irwin in 2007.

Crowe and Terri Irwin have been dodging dating rumours for years now

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

The face of the Sunshine Coast's overpriced rental crisis

Alyx Wilson had to rent a $385 unit in Currimundi because the market was too competitive for cheaper rental housing. She is now renting a room from friends who own a house in Currimundi, and says its much more affordable.

Young people feel the strain in competitive, expensive rental market

WATCH: Take a tour of a tradie's dream home

5a Bruce Hiskens Court, Norman Gardens, going for $720,000. INSET: Lea Taylor.

Huge block with potential for anything

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!