Environment Minister to meet with Hopeland residents over soil gas contamination

Published Monday, 13 February, 2017 at 04:08 AM

Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
The Honourable Steven Miles

Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles will visit Hopeland, south of Chinchilla today (Monday) to address concerns about soil gas contamination.

Dr Miles said impacted landholders remained the Palaszczuk Government’s priority as the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) gets on with the next round of testing.

“I will inspect work being done by EHP officers who are managing soil gas contamination and plan to discuss the matter face to face with residents wanting to meet with me,” Dr Miles said.

“I want to reassure the families of Hopeland and Chinchilla we are listening to their concerns and conducting further testing to better characterise the extent of contamination.

“This is a complex matter and EHP is developing the next testing phase, which will focus south of the excavation caution zone.

“As we work through this next testing phase, we will consult with the State’s Chief Scientist on a regular basis,” Dr Miles said.

Queensland’s Chief Scientist Professor Suzanne Miller said the Queensland Government was working to ensure that appropriate sampling, testing and evaluations of the site continued.

“This will enable us to better understand the conditions on and around the site,” Professor Miller said.

“We will continue to work across our departments to manage any emerging issues and ensure that the community is kept informed of our scientific findings”.

Extensive testing has continued in the Hopeland region after soil gas contaminants were found in 2015.

Tests from the initial rapid assessment phase resulted in the present excavation caution zone, approximately 320 square kilometres in size, being established.

More testing has been occurring in 2016. This comprised 70 locations outside the excavation caution zone, 58 on state land and 12 on private land.

“I am advised that preliminary results showed elevated levels of hydrogen on three of those private properties and we have moved immediately to ensure the landholders concerned are made aware of what this means to them,” Dr Miles said.

“Our testing continues to confirm that human health is not impacted and neither are local water supplies, air quality or agricultural products.

“General farm work is not, and never has been impacted.

“These new results do not change the position for landholders within the current excavation caution zone which remains in place,” Dr Miles said.

Scientific analysis has already established that the hydrogen gas is associated with combustion processes and is not associated with coal seam gas development.

Dr Miles said EHP officers have personally visited and delivered results to the majority of people whose properties have been tested. This process will finish this week.

“We are saying landholders should exercise caution if hydrogen gas – which dissipates quickly in the open air - is confirmed on their properties, and any excavation or similar work below a depth of two metres is undertaken.

“We have set up a call centre to help explain the situation to landholders.

“In addition, the Queensland Government will be offering free soil, air and water tests to concerned landholders.

“EHP will commence these tests as early as this week, so any landholder wanting to register their interest should call the EHP number they’ve been provided.

“I acknowledge this is a challenging time for some landholders and I thank them for their patience. I also thank EHP officers for keeping landholders closely informed as investigations continue,” he said.

Dr Miles said the Government has been in direct contact with the Mayor Paul McVeigh, and local MP Ann Leahy on the issue, and that he also would be meeting with the Mayor today.


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