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Another go for underground coal gasification

By Paul Grad |

Leigh Creek Energy (Adelaide, South Australia; www.lcke.com.au) has received final approval from the South Australian government to start a three-month trial of underground coal gasification (UCG) at the site of the old Leigh Creek Coalfield, about 550 km north of Adelaide. The proposed project has been a contentious issue due to environmental concerns associated with UCG. An UCG project at Chinchilla, Queensland (Chem. Eng., June 2009, p. 15; www.chemengonline.com/progress-in-underground-coal-gasification), operated by Linc Energy Ltd. (Brisbane, Australia; www.linceneergy.com), was banned by the Queensland government. Linc Energy (now in liquidation) was charged with causing great environmental harm at Chinchilla, releasing contaminants into the soil, air and water. It injected air into underground combustion chambers at pressures that were too high, causing the rock surrounding the coal seam to fracture and allowing the escape of toxic gases. Workers at the site reported several health issues. The Queensland government imposed an excavation exclusion zone on more than 300 km2 around the Linc facility where landowners were banned from digging deeper than 2 m. The zone was lifted earlier this year. Linc Energy was fined A$4.5 million…
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