Linc case hears safety warnings
A court has heard Linc Energy workers were told to drink milk and eat yoghurt to protect their stomachs from acid.
Linc Energy has pleaded not guilty to five counts of causing serious environmental harm from its underground coal gasification operations between 2007 and 2013 in Chinchilla.
But because the company is in liquidation, no-one is in court to defend the company.
At the most recent sessions, the court heard a witness statement by former gas operator Timothy Ford, which he prepared in 2015 before his death.
He said his eyes and nose were burnt by gas at the worksite, and that he often had to leave to get fresh air.
“We were told to drink milk in the mornings and at the start of shift… we were also told to eat yoghurt,” he said.
“The purpose of this was to line our guts so the acid wouldn't burn our guts.
“We were not allowed to drink the tank water and were given bottled water.”
Mr Ford said he felt lethargic, suffered infections and shortness of breath.
“During my time at the Linc site, would be the sickest I have been,” he said.
“It is my belief that workplace was causing my sickness.
“I strongly feel that the Linc site was not being run properly due to failures of the wells and gas releases.”
The court was not told how Mr Ford died.
In other evidence, former project manager at the UCG plant, Mariano Minotti, said he had warned the gas company in 2007, including CEO Peter Bond, that gas was escaping from the site and potentially causing damage.
The court was presented with an email Mr Minotti sent in October 2007 to Mr Bond, recommending the site be shut down.
“We know for sure that the cement and/or the procedure used for the cementation of the five wells was not done properly or at least not properly considering our gas composition, temperatures and pressures,” he wrote.
“When we started working at high pressure the air/gas started to escape through the cement and the casing, finding its way into the overburden and into a salty aquifer.
“My plan of attack… shut down the site immediately as suggested three weeks ago to avoid further corrosion, contamination, if any, of groundwater and potential accident.”
Mr Minotti said he noticed bubbles emerging from puddles on the ground during rain, and set up gas monitors to find out what it was.
“It was syngas coming out to the surface,” he said.
The trial continues.