Witness backs down from Linc Energy contamination claims

A KEY State Government witness has backed down from claims that Linc Energy's controversial gas plant had caused widespread soil contamination on the Darling Downs.

Dr Phil Matthew, under cross-examination from defence barrister Robert Bain QC, today conceded it was impossible to directly link high soil acidity in the Hopeland area to Linc Energy's activities.

That was despite earlier assertions made in his report to the State Government earlier this year.

Crown witness Nathan Zurig, principal environmental scientist for Gilbert and Sutherland, gave evidence regarding volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found at Linc Energy's UCG plant.

VOCs, particularly benzene, are associated with causing cancer.

Mr Zurig told the court that benzene levels were a thousand times higher than acceptable levels at an unmanned section of the UCG plant.

"In a more typical process, such as an above-ground coal fired power station it would be managed …more of the VOCs would be destroyed," he said.

"Anything that wasn't destroyed would be managed by scrubbers within the stack.

"Underground coal gasification is much harder to manage."

The committal hearing at Dalby Magistrates Court continues until Friday next week, however the defence is expected to request an extension.


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