Linc Energy underground coal gasification plant near Chinchilla, supplied July 16, 2010
Linc Energy underground coal gasification plant near Chinchilla, supplied July 16, 2010

Bubble trouble at controversial Linc Energy plant

A BIG "bubbling” event was allegedly noticed on the surface of the earth after rainfall at a Linc Energy coal gasification site.

Prosecutor Ralph Devlin made this claim as he continued opening the case against Linc, which is charged with causing serious environmental damage.

Linc, in liquidation, is not in court to defend the charges - but five not guilty pleas were entered at Brisbane District Court this week.

The charges relate to allegations about Chinchilla underground coal gasification activity from mid-2007 to late 2013.

Mr Devlin on Wednesday gave jurors a preview of what he expected witnesses to say.

The prosecutor said an expert from Uzbekistan was shown "a widespread bubbling event” after rainfall at Gasifier Two, known as G2.

Mr Devlin earlier said an employee from another energy company saw "tiny bubbles coming out of the ground everywhere” after rain at the Chinchilla site.

The Crown has claimed Linc used its underground wells in a way that made them fail, and allowed contaminants to escape far way, to places Linc could not remove them.

Mr Devlin said former Linc consultant and employee Andrey Chernishov will tell jurors that conditions at the site allowed gas to escape.

The prosecutor also said concerns were raised with Linc leadership about the quality of drilling equipment, cement and geological data used at the site.

And Mr Devlin discussed what he said was a confidential memo from Linc general manager Donald Schofield to former Linc Energy chief executive Peter Bond, dated November 23, 2007.

This memo said natural faults and fractures "in the vertical and sub-vertical plane” could provide a pathway for gases to move up from the combustion area to surface.

"If present, these planes of weakness could be opened further by the high pressure techniques applied,” the memo allegedly added.

Mr Devlin has also accused Linc Energy of acting in ways which allowed benzene and carbon monoxide to be released into surrounding land.

Judge Michael Shanahan told jurors Linc's liquidators previously applied to the Supreme Court and asked not to defend the charges.

The trial continues. -NewsRegional