Linc Energy has been found guilty of all charges.
Linc Energy has been found guilty of all charges. Alasdair Young

Linc pollution mega-trial: Company guilty on all charges

ENERGY company Linc Energy has been found guilty of all charges of causing environmental damage.

Jurors delivered their verdicts at Brisbane District Court on Monday.

Linc, in liquidation, was not in court to defend the charges of causing serious environmental damage at Chinchilla.

But five not guilty pleas were entered on January 29, the day the trial started.

Nobody was in the dock and no defence lawyers were in court during the long, unusual trial.

Jurors heard discussions about how Linc's underground coal gasification or UCG activities impacted the environment.

Judge Michael Shanahan thanked jurors for their service.   "I know it's been a long trial. It was obviously interesting in some respects, perhaps not all the time," he added.   Years of company documents were dug up for the trial, including internal emails suggesting the company was warned about risks to groundwater.

Jurors were told that in July 2009, the Linc UCG team presented a report to the Linc board.

The team said failures in early operations known as G2 and G3 were due to issues including "reliance on Uzbek consultants".

The report said G2 was abandoned in a "clumsy" way, with water pumped back into wells in an attempt to extinguish gasification.

Meanwhile, already permeable coals were made even more permeable through fraccing, former Linc gas operator Ray Cowie added in a report later that year.

The environmental damage trial lasted more than ten weeks.

Jurors found Linc wilfully and unlawfully caused environmental harm between 2007 and 2013.

Sentencing was set down for May 11.

The trial came after the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection claimed Linc allowed methane, hydrogen, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide to leak from the site.

Last year, it was reported the clean-up bill for environmental contamination could reach almost $80million - and taxpayers would have to fork out.

The Supreme Court in March last year ruled Linc's liquidators for Linc Energy were not responsible.

That court upheld an appeal from liquidators Stephen Longley, Grant Sparks and Martin Ford against an earlier order holding them liable for land rehabilitation around the former Chinchilla site.  -NewsRegional

News Corp Australia

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