Cougar fined over leak of carcinogenic chemical at Kingaroy

Cougar Energy has been fined $75,000 for leaking benzene into groundwater at its underground coal gasification project at Kingaroy in Queensland.

The release happened during the trial of its $550 million UCG project which was shut down in January 2011 after the cancer-causing chemical was found in nearby bores.

Fronting the Brisbane Magistrates’ court yesterday, the company pleaded guilty to three charges relating to failure to properly supervise contractors cementing a production well, properly monitoring the release of contaminates, and the release of air containing toluene and benzene.

A Cougar Energy spokesperson said the incident did not result in environmental harm.

"There was no permanent harm done to the groundwater, including its potential to be used for drinking water,” the spokesperson told The Chronicle.

"We pleaded guilty to close the case."

Groundwater continues to be monitored at the site and the company is currently in discussion with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection to rehabilitate and decommission the operation.

Cougar was also ordered to pay an additional $40,000 in legal and investigation costs.

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