News

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.

 

warwickdailynews.com.au.

Topics:  cougar energy csg industry derm kingaroy



WATCH: Piglets make dash for freedom

GOTCHA: Mick Kay spotted two pigs running around tennis courts in Warwick tonight.

ICYMI two pigs were spotted on Warwick tennis courts last night

PHOTO GALLERY: Warwick kids go all out for Book Week

Molly Williams as the queen of hearts from mum Cassie for Book Week.

Check out these awesome kids and their costumes

WEATHER WATCH: Thunderstorms loom for Southern Downs

SE Qld will see widespread thunderstorms today and tomorrow and the Southern Downs could be in the firing line as well.

Warwick is headed for a top of 24 degrees today

Local Partners

Massive talent from little folk on show in Little Big Shots

Shane Jacobson has as much fun as his guests as wunderkinds show off their skills in Seven's new talent show.

‘I’m pissed off’: Bachelorette finally loses it

Matty is made take Elise on a date by her dad.

UNREST is brewing in the Bachelor mansion.

What's on the big screen this week

Domhnall Gleeson and Tom Cruise in a scene from American Made.

TOM Cruise is flying high in Doug Liman's drug drama American Made.

Bride and Prejudice's Chris reveals more family heartache

Grant and Chris feature on the TV series Bride & Prejudice. Supplied by Channel 7.

His dad’s health has dealt a massive blow to their happy life

Nicole's ready to bust out of Doctor Doctor's love triangle

Nicole da Silva stars in season two of Doctor Doctor.

New season gets a fresh injection of relationship dilemmas.

MOVIE REVIEW: Tom Cruise flying high again in drug drama

Tom Cruise plays pilot Barry Seal in the movie American Made.

FILM STAR delivers his best performance in some time.

Outstanding location and size

Character home on 690sq m with medium density zoning near the river

Strangers restore home after it was trashed by drug-addicts

Strangers restore home.

A Towoomba man was facing the prospect of never renting again

REVEALED: New shops for Coast centre's $12million revamp

Coast retail centre expands as part of $12million refurbishment

Residents fear sand mine sell out by State Minister

Sand mine opponents attend the Nambour Council Chambers.Cou

Further testing undertaken on site, despite claims of significance