A company proposing to open an underground coal gasification demonstration site in Wright has been charged with environmental violations in Australia. The charges could cost the company over two million dollars per violation.
Underground coal gasification involves igniting coal seams deep underground to produce syngas, which can then be processed into various liquid fuels or other chemicals.
What exactly the environmental harm is has not yet been revealed.
A Linc representative has said the charges relate to technology the company was researching but is no longer pursuing. But Jill Morrison of the Powder River Basin Resource Council doesn’t buy it.
“Linc kept testifying that they had no problems with their Australian gasifiers. They called those gasifiers 1 through 5. This project is a continuation of that development and called gasifier 6,” Morrison says. “They gave no specifics on any technical changes with what they’re proposing here in Wyoming.”
Morrison adds that the Australian charges should be taken seriously.
“This information, added to all the other information, should really really get decision makers in Wyoming to take a second look at this proposal. Because once this project starts up it is not easy to clean up,” she says.
Linc Energy is asking for an aquifer exemption for its Wyoming project, which means the company would be permitted to pollute a small part of the Fort Union aquifer before cleaning it up in the decommissioning phase. An Australian study found that Linc was not capable of effectively cleaning up and closing its site in Chinchilla.
Linc has said it plans to contest the Australian charges.