Revelations that the Queensland Palaszczuk Government may have covered up drastically elevated levels of cyanide and benzene in groundwater outside the Linc Energy disaster zone must trigger an immediate independent investigation, says Lock the Gate Alliance.
The reports, contained in The Australian today, come as Shell and PetroChina owned coal seam gas company Arrow Energy attempts to progress an application to drill 55 CSG wells within 10km of the Linc site - an area previously deemed off limits to new gas extraction, but where some wells already exist.
Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland coordinator Ellie Smith said, “These revelations about evidence of cyanide and benzene water contamination outside the Linc Energy site being kept hidden from the public are deeply disturbing.
“We’re calling for an urgent, independent investigation into what has occurred and the immediate public release of all groundwater monitoring results held by the Queensland Government.
“Queenslanders, especially those who live in and around Chinchilla, Kogan and Warra, must be given all the data available on this water contamination immediately so they can assess risks to their health, their families and their businesses.
“In addition, all planned coal seam gas drilling surrounding the Linc Energy site needs to be taken off the table. Arrow’s application must be unequivocally rejected in light of these revelations, because there’s a real risk of CSG activity spreading contamination further.”
Linc Energy was prosecuted and fined $4.5 million for the disaster, however the State Government is yet to recoup any of the money after the company went into liquidation. A subsequent investigation into whether the directors were responsible was dropped last year.
“Queenslanders need to know why this case was dropped, and the evidence that was compiled needs to be released,” Ms Smith said.
“The Palaszczuk Government has faced mounting criticism over its lack of transparency, and here is yet another example of an apparent cover up that may have put Queenslanders at risk.”
Arrow originally wanted to drill 280 CSG wells on the site, but submitted a revised application late last year following an independent hydrological report which found there was a risk that dangerous chemicals from the Linc zone could migrate outside the area if drilling for gas was permitted.
The Environment Department has extended its self-imposed decision deadline multiple times since Arrow made the application.