Five executives who were in charge of Linc Energy’s experimental coal gasification plant on Queensland’s Western Downs have been committed to stand trial over their handling of the failed operation.
- All five former directors are accused of failures under the Environmental Protection Act
- The environment department says it is the largest and most complex case it has ever conducted
- The five will stand trial in the District Court on a date to be fixed
In 2016, the ABC revealed Linc Energy founder Peter Bond and four other former executives were charged with environmental offences relating to contamination at the company’s underground coal gasification (UCG) site near Chinchilla between 2007 and 2013.
A spokesman from the Department of Justice today confirmed all five men have been committed to stand trial in the District Court in Brisbane.
The five — Mr Bond, Donald Schofield, Stephen Dumble, Jacobus Terblanche and Daryl Rattai — were all granted bail.
A condition of Mr Bond’s bail is that he must notify the prosecutor if he intends to travel overseas and provide a copy of his tickets and itinerary.
The five are accused of failing to ensure Linc Energy complied with the Environmental Protection Act.
The UCG operation was designed to produce synthetic fuel through a combustion process below the surface.
Air was allegedly injected into underground combustion chambers at pressures that were too high causing the rock and coal seams to fracture, allowing toxic gases to escape and contaminating the surrounding air, soil and water.
Monitoring and remediation of the site are expected to take decades.
Linc Energy went into liquidation in 2016 and the site is being managed by the Queensland Government.
‘Most complex’ case ever for department
A spokesman for the Department of Environment and Science (DES) said the decision to prosecute came after “the largest and most complex ever conducted” by DES.
“The company is alleged to have wilfully and unlawfully caused serious environmental harm as a result of the operation of its UCG facility,” the spokesman said.
“DES, as Queensland’s environmental regulator, is committed to pursuing executive officers who fail to ensure companies comply with Queensland’s environmental laws.”