Linc Energy's executives have been charged with environmental damage.
Linc Energy's executives have been charged with environmental damage. Contributed

Linc Energy execs charged with environmental damage

FIVE former Linc Energy executives have been charged with environmental damage over the company's underground coal gasification project near Chinchilla.

Former Linc Energy chief Peter Bond has been charged with two counts of failing to ensure Linc complied with the Environmental Protection Act. These are on top of a similar charge laid against him on September 13.

Former Linc Energy general managers Donald Schofield and Darryl Rattai and former chief operating officers Stephen Dumble and Jacobus (Kobus) Terblanche have also been charged with breaching the act.

Under the act all executives had a legal obligation to ensure their company complied with its environmental obligations.

If convicted, the men face up to five years in jail.

Queensland Environment Minister Steven Miles said more investigations were ongoing and more charges could be laid.

"As investigations remain active, and as this matter is now before the courts, the government won't comment further on the details of the current charges," he said.

Acting Premier Jackie Trad said the government was "committed to getting the balance right" between business and the environment.

"We take very seriously the responsibility that the government has to make sure that industry thrives but not at the expense of our environment and not at the expense of other land users," she said.

Linc Energy is facing five charges of wilfully and unlawfully causing serious environmental harm. The company is in liquidation. If found guilty the company faces fines of up to $8,850,625.

Charges against the executives do not alter charges against the company.

A Department of Environment and Heritage Protection investigation allegedly found soil near Linc's Chinchilla project had been permanently acidified. The investigation alleged chemicals including methane, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide leaked into the ground.

The Queensland Government last week introduced legislation into parliament that would ban underground coal gasification.

Speaking in parliament last Tuesday Queensland Mines Minister Anthony Lynham said the industry had been banned following trials.

"The Palaszczuk Government has carefully considered the results of trials at two UCG pilot projects undertaken to establish the commercial and environmental viability of this potential industry," Dr Lynham said.

"The Government has concluded that with the potential impacts of UCG activities and the issues associated with the trial projects to date, the risks of allowing UCG projects to grow to commercial scale are not acceptable and outweigh the foreseeable benefits."

The five men are expected to appear in Dalby Magistrates Court on November 29.


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