Hopeland area testing update
The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) is investigating soil gas contaminants in the Hopeland area near Chinchilla.
The presence of particular gases, such as hydrogen, at unexpected levels has been identified in soil at depths below two metres at a number of locations. EHP is advised that the gases are associated with combustion processes and are not associated with coal seam gas development. These gases have not been detected above undisturbed ground surfaces or in the air.
EHP’s investigation is ongoing and further testing will help to better characterise the extent of contamination.
Excavation caution zone
In February 2015, EHP established an excavation caution zone (or ‘ECZ’). The ECZ remains in place. The advice in relation to the ECZ is that caution should be exercised during activities that may encounter hazardous gas contaminants, such as excavations or trenching works below depths of two metres or more from the surface. View a map of the ECZ.
Testing completed to date
EHP is advised that because the gases are found at depth in the soil, immediate impacts to grazing animals and stock are considered very unlikely. To provide further certainty, EHP and its independent experts commenced specific assessments of air, soil, surface water and ground water on landholder properties within the ECZ in addition to the ongoing soil gas sampling being undertaken. The testing of air, soil, surface water and ground water on these properties identified no associated impact.
Queensland Health advised that the results of testing undertaken on Chinchilla’s town water supply in 2015 were all within the range of historical data for each water quality parameter, or within the expected range for surface water in Queensland. Queensland Health further advised there was nothing in the water quality data that would indicate a health risk from Chinchilla’s treated drinking water or that additional testing of the treated water was necessary. Water testing of the Condamine River and Chinchilla Weir during 2015 also identified no associated impact.
Air quality in the area has been monitored by the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation (DSITI) through two rounds of extensive air quality sampling and assessment. The monitoring did not find any evidence of subsoil gases leading to unsafe levels of air pollutants in the community. This suggests that any surface emissions of the soil gases that may be occurring are likely to be gradual and quickly diluted by surrounding air to very low levels. DSITI’s two reports on air testing in the area are available for download:
- Air Quality Investigation Hopeland and Chinchilla March 2015
- Air Quality Investigation Hopeland and Chinchilla December 2015
Further testing planned
EHP is currently in the advanced stages of planning a second phase of soil gas testing in Hopeland. This testing will be similar in nature to the first phase of testing conducted in 2015, involving drilling shallow bore holes and conducting field and laboratory testing of the vapours occurring within the bore holes.
The second phase of testing will analyse shallow soil vapour in a further 50 locations in and around Hopeland. This phase will also involve re-visiting and re-testing long-term shallow soil vapour monitoring bores installed by EHP during the first phase of testing in 2015. The second phase of testing will build an understanding of the behaviour of the contaminant gases over time.
If your property is within the ECZ shown in the ECZ map and you have concerns, please contact the department. In particular, you should consider contacting EHP prior to excavation or any other activity likely to occur two metres or deeper in the ground.
Any person seeking further information should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Queensland Government decision on UCG
On 18 April 2016, the Queensland Government made an announcement prohibiting underground coal gasification activities in Queensland.
Information can be accessed from the Department of Natural Resources and Mines website.
The decision does not affect Linc Energy Limited and Carbon Energy Limited’s existing obligations to undertaking decommissioning and rehabilitation.