Traditional Owners are demanding the South Australian Premier put an end to underground coal gasification (UCG), which threatens to put sacred sites of the Flinders Rangers at risk of toxic contamination
The Traditional Owners have the support of scientists and 13 community groups, including Doctors for the Environment Australia and Lock the Gate Alliance, who have signed on to a letter from the Traditional Owners to the Premier.
The Anggumathahna Camp Law Mob Elders, Aroona Aboriginal Council, and the Adnyamathanha Yura Language and Heritage Association have written to the Premier, following the state government’s approval of UCG at Leigh Creek.
In Queensland a court found UCG, which involves setting fire to coal underground to extract gas, had caused serious environmental harm in the Western Downs farming area and heard evidence of contamination of land and serious impacts on human health.
Support for the local community campaign comes as a legal challenge is due to be heard against the Leigh Creek underground coal gasification project in South Australia’s Supreme Court early next week.
Traditional Owner, Dr Jillian Marsh, said: “Together we are defending the rights of our people to access our birthplaces and burial grounds and to eat from the land without concern for contamination. We are sick of being ignored by the Premier and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, whose government has approved UCG on our land, despite our clear opposition.
Professor John Willoughby of Doctors for the Environment Australia said: “The idea of setting fire under the ground on which we walk is appalling - all for the purpose of extracting more coal. Workers and people living in surrounding areas will face increased health risks from any gas and toxins released. In approving this the SA Government has also ignored that it will add another coal-mine’s worth of global warming.”
Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson, Carmel Flint said: “We’ve seen the impacts of this dangerous, toxic industry in the Western Downs farming region of Queensland, where contamination was found on surrounding properties and workers investigating the mine site had to be hospitalised. We must not allow this toxic legacy to be left in South Australia as well” she said.