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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability
    The Honourable Kate Jones

    Carbon’s UCG trial to recommence with stricter conditions

    Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability
    The Honourable Kate Jones

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    Carbon’s UCG trial to recommence with stricter conditions

    The Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) has today issued amended Environmental Authorities to Carbon Energy allowing them to restart their Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) trial at Kogan.

    DERM Director-General John Bradley said Carbon’s UCG trial had been suspended since July under an Environmental Protection Order (EPO) while investigations into an unauthorised discharge of process water were underway. DERM also required Carbon to conduct an Environmental Evaluation of the incident, including providing further additional information around their on-site practices.

    “While our investigations into the August 2009 incident showed there had been no ongoing damage to the environment and soil sampling has detected no residual contaminants — our assessment of the Environmental Evaluation that Carbon were required to prepare identified the need for improvements to their operational management,” he said.

    “These additional requirements are now in the new amended Environmental Authorities being issued today providing stronger environmental protections and more rigid processes the company must implement and adhere to before it can recommence the trial.

    The new conditions include:

    • Improved infrastructure to ensure better storage capacity and management of process water (such as the construction of additional tanks and other storage infrastructure)

    • Improved underground monitoring through the installation of additional groundwater monitoring networks

    • Improved risk management practices and more stringent notification requirements

    “The company has already implemented some of the new conditions, but until all conditions and requirements under the amended authorities are met the company cannot lawfully recommence operations,” he said.

    “Our officers will conduct another on-site inspection prior to the trial recommencing to ensure they have fulfilled these requirements.

    “The formal investigation to determine if any legal action should be taken against the company relating to this incident continues.”

    Mr Bradley said once the company complies with the new requirements, the department is confident it can operate in a safe and sustainable way.

    Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones said the government would continue to closely monitor the activities of Carbon Energy, as well as the other company continuing in the UCG trial, Linc Energy.

    “We take the protection of our environment very seriously and any company that wants to do business in Queensland must meet their environmental obligations,” Ms Jones said.

    “When the contamination incident occurred at Cougar Energy’s Kingaroy site last year we said that if any company couldn’t provide real evidence that it could operate safely then it would not be allowed to continue.

    “The decision last month to close down Cougar Energy’s trial at Kingaroy demonstrates that we will not risk the environment or our communities if concerns cannot be addressed by a company.

    “DERM is satisfied that Carbon Energy has demonstrated they will be able to operate within environmental requirements, after making changes to their operations and procedures.

    “Today’s decision is consistent with an Independent Scientific Panel (ISP) report into Carbon Energy’s operations.”

    The Panel recommended Carbon be allowed recommence operations, subject to strengthened arrangements for managing process water and monitoring.

    “DERM will be watching very closely to ensure that is the case before they recommence their trial,” she said.

    DERM will also continue to work through the recommendations contained in the ISP report with Carbon Energy.

    The independent panel will provide its final advice to the Government on the technical viability and environmental sustainability of a large scale UCG industry in Queensland at the end of the trial.

    Media Contact: 3239 0818