ATLA opposes UCG in Leigh Creek

ENVIRONMENT: The Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association has strongly opposed underground coal gasification in Leigh Creek and the proposed nuclear waste facility near Hawker.
ENVIRONMENT: The Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association has strongly opposed underground coal gasification in Leigh Creek and the proposed nuclear waste facility near Hawker.

The Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA) has declared that “enough is enough”, voting unanimously against underground coal gasification (UCG) in Leigh Creek and the proposed radioactive waste management facility near Hawker.

ATLA CEO Vince Coulthard said it is time to “heal this area, not fill it with poison”.

“We don’t want the dangerous gasification project at Leigh Creek and we don’t want the toxic nuclear waste dump either,” he said.

“Our country has had enough, it is time for healing, we don’t want any further destruction at Leigh Creek.

“This is a very important Muda (spirituality) and the desecration of this site has to stop.”

The UCG process, which involves injecting oxygen into coal seams to convert coal into product gas, has caused controversy in the past when it was banned in Queensland after Linc Energy’s project near Chinchilla led to widespread contamination.

Mr Coulthard wants SA government to follow Queensland in banning UCG.

“The court found Linc Energy injected air into underground combustion chambers at pressures that were too high, causing the rock surrounding the coal seam to fracture and allowing the escape of toxic gases,” he said.

“We don’t want this happening in our country, that is why we voted unanimously against the project going ahead at Leigh Creek.”

The decision would come as a blow to Leigh Creek Energy (LCK), who stated in October 2017 that ATLA was the only recognised body corporate that the company could formally engage with for the Leigh Creek Energy Project. Despite ATLA’s decision, LCK has remained coy about the future of the project.

“It is the intent of Leigh Creek Energy to continue to work closely with ATLA throughout the project lifecycle,” an LCK spokesperson said. “Leigh Creek Energy is committed to open and transparent communication with all stakeholders.”

The spokesperson said LCK has an agreement with ATLA to ensure the protection of Aboriginal Cultural Heritage.

“All exploration work on Petroleum Exploration Licence 650 at Leigh Creek has been conducted in accordance with this agreement,” they said.

ATLA’s vote against a nuclear waste dump at Barndioota comes after a recent visit to the site by Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan.

The Minister declared that a postal vote would commence on August 20 to measure the community support for the proposed national radioactive waste management facility.

Mr Canavan vowed the facility would not go ahead without community approval.