Linc Energy, the company being prosecuted by the Queensland Government for polluting large areas of the western Darling Downs with its underground coal gasification (UCG) project, is set to go into liquidation, triggering calls for urgent action by the Qld Government under new Chain of Responsibility laws.
The company at present has a woefully inadequate rehabilitation bond with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and, by going into liquidation, it will avoid the full clean-up costs which are likely to fall on taxpayers. The Qld Government had been in the process of trying to increase financial assurances from Linc Energy from $3.6 million to $29 million.
Linc will also avoid having to pay any fines incurred from a likely successful prosecution against them for causing significant environmental harm, which could be up to $56 million, and was also facing a potential class actions by affected farmers.
Lock the Gate president, Drew Hutton, said ‘This is an appalling outcome for the landholders in the Chinchilla area, and taxpayers throughout Qld, who will be left to foot what is likely to be a massive clean-up bill unless the Qld Government uses its new powers to pursue Linc Energy directors.
“Are farmers and taxpayers going to be forced to pay for the enormous damage to the soils and water in the area around the Linc Energy near Chinchilla, or will the Qld Government now pursue those who are responsible for this mess?
“There are real concerns amongst local farmers as to how their area can be cleaned up so they can safely farm again, especially now that opportunities for them to seek damages through class action have likely been lost on liquidation.
“Therefore, it is crucial that the Qld Government moves urgently to use its new Chain of Responsibilities powers to pursue relevant Linc Energy directors, including former Chairman Peter Bond, for the clean-up costs.
“Coal mining companies are pulling out all stops as more and more of them go into liquidation to avoid having to pay for their clean-up.
“The community is simply not going to accept mining millionaires walking away and leaving people to suffer. The Qld Government needs to listen to the community and urgently act to pursue those who have caused this far-reaching harm," he said.