Bender family says 1000 pigs died from Linc Energy pollution

The family of George Bender have blamed the deaths of 1000 pigs on pollution caused by Linc Energy’s underground coal gasification project at Chinchilla.

The Bender family’s submission to the Senate inquiry into CSG regulation showed graphic images of animals affected at their piggery, which was run by George Bender up until his suicide last year.

Helen Bender, daughter of George, said the family had identified a burning smell which they and the local community came to refer to as “Linc stink”.

“My brother was on the tractor and he stopped it because he thought the tractor was burning. He got outside the tractor and it was actually the Linc Energy smell,” she said.

She said that in 70 years the family had never noticed such health problems with their animals until Linc Energy began its experiments with underground coal gasification at the plant six kilometres from their farm.

The family noticed their pigs were suffering respiratory complications, gasping for air, and that animals sometimes died immediately after flaring or venting of the gasfields.

The family reported pigs were not only dying without apparent physical cause, but were also aborting pregnancies or unable to deliver live litters, while young pigs suffered from swollen eyes, rashes and lung issues.

George Bender committed suicide last year after pressure from Origin Energy to allow CSG wells on his property.

A spokesperson for Linc Energy said it was inappropriate to respond to questions while the inquiry was underway.

Last year former Linc Energy workers at Chinchilla revealed they suffered from ill health after uncontrolled releases of gas between 2007 and 2013.

The company has also faced allegations of having caused underground coal fires, and charges of environmental breaches at the Chinchilla plant.

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