Hundreds of people joined hands across the Forth Road Bridge this weekend to protest against proposals to carry out Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) at a number of sites across the Forth.
One of the companies who hold UCG licenses around the Firths of Forth is Cluff Natural Recourses who are proposing to develop Scotland’s first commercial UCG project around the Kincardine area of the Forth by drilling deep under the seabed to reach the coal seams.
The method involves pairs of wells that are used to access the seams, one to partially ignite the coal using oxygen or steam, and the second to extract the resulting gases. At the surface the gases are separated into carbon dioxide, water and syngas. Syngas is the combination of hydrogen, methane, carbon monoxide and very often carbon dioxide. It can be used to generate electricity, as transport fuel or industrial feedstock.
Joining with the protesters was Cowdenbeath MSP Alex Rowley who said that UCG was a very ‘risky experiment with serious safety implications for all of us’. Mr Rowley said that he had been calling for a moratorium on UCG and was pleased this week when the Scottish government bowed to pressure to include UCG in the current moratorium on fracking.
The Cowdenbeath MSP said; “These kinds of activities bring with them serious risks for public health with the risks of pollutants including mercury, arsenic, coal tars and ethyl benzene creating groundwater contamination and air pollution. An example of this is Queensland Australia where one company is being sued through the courts by the local council for ‘irreversible damage’ to the environment from toxic gases during the UCG processes.
“It is very important that we highlight the massive dangers that would come if this kind of commercial operation was allowed to go ahead and it is my own view that the scientific evidence around the threats and dangers of this activity is so great that we must now see the moratorium turned into a ban”.