A two slide presentation that covers the process, the effect on the landscape and 20 impacts on people, the environment and the economy.
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The process of Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) involves the partial burning of coal underground. This produces a wide variety of toxic and carcinogenic hydrocarbons including benzene, toluene, ethyl-benzene and zylene.
Due to industry secrecy it is unclear how much liquid and solid waste will be produced by the UCG process. The water used to control the process will emerge along with other liquids and particulate drawn up with the exhaust gasses. The gas produced by the process will also produce large volumes of ash when burnt in power stations.
Trials have shown that quantities of phenols and benzenes are produced as by-products of the underground gasification process. Most will be carried to the surface with the product gas. Large volumes of carbon dioxide and other combustion products will be emitted from sites and power stations. Emergency flaring and uncontrolled emissions will inevitably occur.
Pollution of Aquifers
The intense heat produced by the burning coal drives convection currents in the ground water. These convection currents can transport toxic material out of the cavity and up to the surface. Of three tests projects in Australia two have been shut down when these compounds escaped into the biosphere.
Pollution of Sea & Coastline
UCG has never been tested offshore or near shore (under the sea). The projects proposed around our coast are experimental in the extreme and put entire bays and estuaries at risk.
Large volumes of ash and partly burnt coal will be left underground by the process. As the fire burns along the coal seams the space created will refill with water. Over time toxic materials can be leached out and moved through groundwater to the surface.
As the fire burns along the coal seams the space created will collapse. This can cause collapse of the overlying geology and could lead to subsidence and damage to surface structures including the UCG boreholes themselves.
Underground Coal Fires
The geology of the British Isles is littered with faults and abandoned mine workings. If a supply of oxygen from an uncontrolled source reached the burning coal the coal seam would continue to burn indefinitely. An uncontrolled fire would not be confined to the offshore coal seam.
Risk of Explosion
Hydrogen gas is produced by the UCG process. It is colourless odourless, and highly explosive.
Toxic Gas Hazard
Large volumes of carbon monoxide are produced by the UCG process. It is a colourless, odourless gas that can kill humans and animals at very low concentrations.
Drilling & Gasification Equipment
The more the oil and gas industry invest in drilling and gasification equipment the more drilling and gasification will happen. Currently there is no gasification equipment and only a small amount of horizontal drilling equipment in the British Isles.
The equipment at surface will include the drilling rigs, wellheads, connecting pipework, and process plant for handling the injection/production gases. This industrialisation will change the character of our coastal areas.
Coastal Power Stations
A commercial UCG scheme will require a permanent site for the power plant. This will be close to the coast unless pipelines are used. Placing infrastructure in areas at risk from tidal surges, coastal erosion and sea level rise is reckless and irresponsible.
Damage to other Industries
Fishing and tourism will suffer at all stages of UCG exploration, production and legacy. An areas reputation and resources are exposed to long term risks that exist long after the UCG industry has gone.
Boom & Bust
Many areas of the country bear the scars of previous industrial development. Extractive industries destroy long term sustainable jobs. Any short term gains are far outweighed by the long term losses and resulting regional instability.
Heavy Vehicle Traffic
Waste disposal traffic will become a common sight on local roads. This is in addition to construction vehicles and drilling equipment when the site is commissioned.
Road Damage & Earthquakes
Road damage is an inevitable consequence of UCG exploration due to intensive transportation of materials and machinery. Earthquakes may be caused by the process and are quite common in conventional coal mining.
Property Blight (from sites & pylons)
Home owners in UCG areas can find themselves trapped in a house they can not sell, re-mortgage, insure or develop. An area already suffering from a decline in existing industries is further impacted by air and water pollution and the resultant health impacts.
Direct Threat to Renewable Energy Investment
Further investment in fossil fuel extraction and a new wave of extreme energy undermines investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. It perpetuates our dependence on finite resources and sabotages the life chances of future generations.
UCG will not replace other fossil fuels, it will be burned in addition to the oil, coal and gas that has already been discovered. By developing these new energy extraction techniques we are expanding global reserves of hydrocarbons and increasing emissions. The chemistry of the atmosphere is changing and due to drought, flood and starvation the death toll already stands at 350,000 annually.