Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) is different from Coal Seam Gas (CSG) extraction. Both are bad for the environment, but UCG is potentially much worse.
UCG involves burning coal underground and then extracting and processing the resulting gas which is brought to the surface in pipes. The technology is banned in many countries because of the risk it poses to health, soil, air and water quality.
A recent UCG trial in Queensland resulted in what the local Environment Minister described as “the biggest pollution event probably in Queensland’s history.” In just a few short years, over 175sq/km of southern Queensland farmland sustained irreversible, widespread contamination, some of which may have been potentially carcinogenic and capable of asphyxiating humans and animals, if exposed. The damage will cost millions to clean up and the company and its directors are being prosecuted in Court.
In South Australia, there are plans to construct a UCG plant in Leigh Creek to use the remaining coal that was previously used in the Port Augusta power stations. Because Leigh Creek is remote and has a history of coal mining, there is very little awareness of the implications of this dangerous project.
The Greens will legislate to ban Underground Coal Gasification in South Australia.