Why Adani is wrong in saying they did not pollute the Reef and Caley Valley Wetlands during Cyclone Debbie
Adani has repeatedly claimed it did nothing wrong in relation its management of Abbot Point coal terminal during Cyclone Debbie. The reality is that Adani did cause pollution. Here are the facts:
Temporary Emissions Licence
On 28 April 2017, the Department of Environment & Science (formerly Dept of Environment & Heritage Protection - DEHP) issued Adani with a retrospectively amended Temporary Emissions Licence for the company’s coal terminal at Abbot Point.
The licence permitted Adani to increase the concentration of contaminants flowing into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the Caley Valley wetlands from the 30 milligrams per litre (mg/L) to 100mg/L.
Exceedance of TEL
After the cyclone Adani reported to the Queensland Government that the concentration of contaminants measured in water samples collected at the location that flowed into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area (known as W2) was 806mg/L. Those samples were collected using an automated process. The concentration of contaminants exceeded the temporarily permitted limit by more than 800%.
At the other authorised location (called W1), which flowed into the Caley Valley Wetlands, samples were collected after staff returned to the site following the cyclone. At the time of collection the concentration was 80mg/L which was below the temporary limit. However, there were no samples collected during the event so nobody knows whether the limit was exceeded at any time while the licence was in operation.
On 3 May 2017 the head of Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Jim Reeves, said that Adani could face a penalty of $3.8 million for a wilful breach of its licence. However, on 20 July DEHP issued Adani with a $12,190 fine for the breach. On 24 August the ABC reported that Adani had informed DEHP that it would contest the fine. The government has until 7 September 2018 to decide whether to take the matter to court.
Public awareness of the coal spill followed aerial photographs taken after Cyclone Debbie indicating a significant flow of coal from stockpiles at the port into Caley Valley wetlands through release point W1. A July 2017 report by the Queensland government reports on a scientific assessment of the wetlands post Cyclone Debbie. Soil samples collected by the Queensland government were analysed by two companies, Australian Laboratory Services (ALS) and UQ Materials Performance (UQMP).
ALS analysed the samples using Australian Standards AS2856 Part 1 & 2 and found that coal made up 26.8% of the samples taken from Caley Valley shore and 15.4% of the samples from Caley Valley wetlands. The report says that these represent “quite a significant volume of coal”.
UQMP used an in-house analysis method and found that the samples contained 10% and 2% coal just near location W2 and trace contamination across the wetlands.
In Adani’s 27 August 2018 statement the company quotes a Queensland government report that says there is little visual evidence of coal fines across the entire wetland.
Mackay Conservation Group visited the Caley Valley wetlands on 27 & 28 April 2017 following an invitation from Queensland’s environment minister. We had been told that we would be able to collect soil samples at the site but on arrival people representing Adani told us we could not collect any samples or photographs. During our visit we observed significant coverage of coal fines in the parts of the wetland we were permitted to visit. The Queensland Government photo above shows significant coal contamination in the soil sample taken in the Caley Valley wetlands. More photos from the site inspection can be found here.
Adani has been required by the Queensland Government to undertake an environmental evaluation into the causes and impacts of the coal spill into the Caley Valley wetlands. Adani has appealed this requirement and the case will be heard in October 2018.
For a more extensive background document on this issue see this article on our website.
Media Release: Crocodiles less threatening to human life than bees
Conservationists will today call on a Queensland parliamentary committee to reject legislation that would reintroduce mass slaughter of wild crocodiles in the state.
The Queensland Parliament’s Innovation, Tourism Development and Environment Committee will hold public hearings on the Safer Waterways Bill at Mackay today.
Mackay Conservation Group coordinator, Peter McCallum, said that crocodiles do pose a threat to human life but the risk has been overblown.
Last year, Bob Katter, a federal MP, claimed that a person was killed by a crocodile every three months in North Queensland.
Conservationists have disputed that claim.
“Since 1985 there have been 11 fatal crocodile attacks in Queensland. That’s about one every three years,” Mr McCallum said.
“By comparison one Australian dies from complications of bee sting every six months.”
“It’s easy to drum up fear, even when the threat is minimal.”
“Mackay Conservation Group will be calling on the committee to reject fearmongering and rely on the clear scientific evidence when making its recommendation on the proposed law.”
From the 1940s to 1970s crocodiles were killed in large numbers, mostly by hunters hoping to cash in on high international prices for crocodile skin.
Saltwater crocodiles were pushed towards extinction in Australia until Queensland reluctantly enacted legislation to ban wild crocodile killing in 1974.
As late as 1988, saltwater crocodiles were listed as endangered.
Since then crocodile numbers have recovered to the point that they are no longer considered vulnerable to extinction.
On average 8 Queenslanders die each year in boating accidents.
We're excited to invite you to our next Beautiful Walk at the Lex Creek Nature Refuge on Sunday 16th September, in the spectacular Eungella region! We will be taken for a private tour of the property by the owner Colin Creighton, who was awarded an Australian Medal for his innovative work in environmental science and sustainable agriculture. The majority of Colin's property is rainforest, which rolls down to Broken River - a popular site to spot the elusive platypus.
In addition to conserving rainforest on his land, Colin practices sustainable grazing, where livestock are crash grazed and fenced off from waterways which lead into the Great Barrier Reef. His property also includes a plantation of native Hoop Pine, garlic crops and partially supports two share farmers and their families.
Join us on this special Beautiful Walk, as we walk through rainforest and farmland, spot wildlife and learn how agriculture and environmental conservation can coexist!
Bookings are essential to secure your spot!
Crediton, Queensland 4757
Emma Barrett · firstname.lastname@example.org · 0437742747
10 August 2018
Qld govt fails to prosecute Adani for breaking law, polluting Reef waters
Adani tries to block documents showing it knew pollution would occur
Previously secret documents show Adani and the Qld Department of the Environment knew that water, containing high concentrations of coal pollutants, would be released from Adani’s Abbot Point coal terminal into Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area waters during Cyclone Debbie, in breach of even the special licence to pollute that was issued to Adani at the time.
Despite a clear breach of Adani’s license to pollute, it is now 16 months since Cyclone Debbie and the Queensland government has as yet failed to launch prosecution proceedings after Adani challenged its $12,190 fine.
In a lengthy process, Adani sought to block Mackay Conservation Group’s right to information request. A backgrounder, with links to the documents and the Information Commissioner’s judgment, can be found here.
Coordinator of the Mackay Conservation Group, Mr Peter McCallum said, “This proves once again that Adani can’t be trusted and sees itself as above the law. Adani mustn’t get off scot-free. The Queensland government must launch a prosecution in the next few weeks otherwise the time will expire.
“Adani has challenged their measly $12,190 fine, despite admitting to intentionally breaching its pollution licence by more than 800 per cent and allegedly submitting an altered laboratory report.
“The company is also in court appealing an order that it examine pollution of the Abbot Point Caley Valley wetlands and consider a new water management strategy, in an attempt to bully the Government into a cheaper, less effective investigation.
“North Queenslanders don’t want a mining company which thumbs its nose at regulation designed to protect our precious environment.
“Just last week Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said Queensland has some of the strictest environmental measures in world which Adani is subject to.
“It’s now up to Minister Enoch to show Queenslanders that she will enforce these environmental laws and do no more special favours for Adani.
“The secret documents show Adani knew that the concentration of contaminants that flowed into the waters of the Great Barrier Reef was likely to be in the range of 500 to 900mg/L, well above the 100 mg/L allowed by even its temporary license to pollute issued during the storm.
“The port where Adani operates is frequently subject to severe weather. Over the past five decades, 23 tropical cyclones have passed within 100km of the site.
“Considering Adani is seeking approval to increase the amount of coal that goes through its port by 10 million tonnes a year, the Queensland government must require Adani clean up its act and stormproof the terminal to prevent future pollution.
“The public should be confident that the Queensland Government is committed to ensuring Adani causes no more harm to the Great Barrier Reef, our state’s unique wildlife, our precious water or the cultural heritage values of the indigenous community,” Mr McCallum said.
Contact: Peter McCallum 0402 966 560 for comment.
A Right To Information request by Mackay Conservation Group (MCG) has resulted in the release of previously secret documents which reveal that both Adani and the Queensland Government were well aware that water, containing high concentrations of pollutants, could be released from Adani’s Abbot Point coal terminal into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area during Cyclone Debbie, in breach of even the special licence to pollute that the Department of Environment issued at the time.
After the cyclone Adani admitted to breaching its Temporary Emissions Licence (TEL) by more than 800% of the amount of coal polluted water allowed to be released into the Reef coast. Adani subsequently spent a year attempting to block the release of documents that would reveal what the company knew about the concentration of pollutants that could flow into the environment. In agreeing to release the information, the Right to Information Commissioner criticised Adani’s arguments for blocking the documents as “too speculative or conjectural to form a reasonably based expectation” that it could prejudice an ongoing investigation into a possible contravention of the TEL.
Despite a clear breach of Adani’s licence to pollute, it is now sixteen months since the cyclone and it appears that the Queensland government has failed to yet launch proceedings to prosecute Adani for unlawfully releasing coal polluted water into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The latest advice from the Department is that it has until 7 September 2018 to launch a prosecution.
Meanwhile Adani is:
- challenging the Penalty Infringement Notice (PIN) of $12,190 for the breach and, as part of proceedings, was alleged to have submitted an altered laboratory report about the concentration of contaminants released to the marine environment;
- appealing the Queensland Environment Department’s decision to require that they carry out an environmental investigation as a result of the discharge during the cyclone into the Caley Valley Wetlands at Abbot Point, to look at causes and impacts
- seeking approval from the Queensland government to increase the amount of coal that goes through its Abbot Point Port by 10 million tonnes per annum, yet failing to ensure its terminal is more storm proof and likely to pollute.
The previously secret documents, released under RTI are here. The judgment by the Queensland Information Commission is here.
An extensive blog on the pollution incident at Abbot Point, and how events unfolded, has been prepared by the Queensland Environmental Defenders Office and can be found here.Read more
Our monthly meetings are great opportunities for members, volunteers and curious others to catch up and hear about MCG's work and upcoming events.
This month's guest speaker is Pierre Craven, Head of Science at Mackay Christian College, who has been directing the school's senior students in their new mangrove research program.
The innovative project involves students using real-life techniques to study the carbon storage potential and biomass of mangroves in the Pioneer River.
The data collected will be sent and used by renowned mangrove ecologist, Dr Norman Duke from James Cook University, who is also the project's scientific mentor.
Can the mangroves of Mackay help fight climate change? Come along and find out!
Tuesday 21 August, 6:30 - 8:30pm
Environment Centre, 156 Wood St.
Widespread tree clearing and habitat loss has resulted in a serious decline in koala numbers in south-east Queensland.
Now that there have been changes to Queensland's tree-clearing laws, what will be the impacts to koala habitat in the Mackay region?
Adam Gilmour, the senior natural resource officer from DNRME will join us at our next meeting, where he will explain how the new laws work and how they will impact conservation efforts.
Also joining us will be Mark Thomas from the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) unit, who will give a presentation on the importance and benefits of Queensland Globe - an online tool that can be used to discover a trove of information and data!
Tuesday 17 July, 6:30 - 8:30pm
Mackay Environment Centre, 156 Wood St
A huge crowd marched through the main street of Mackay in the Walk for Water. Our government needs to listen to Queenslanders, and rule out wasting our water on Adani's mega-mine.
With over half of Queensland drought declared, we cannot afford to give billions of litres of water to Adani. Sign the petition to protect Qld's water now, and make sure you come along to the Stop Adani meetings on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of every month.
You can read more about the predicted impacts to water that the Adani mine will have here.
Check out more of the great photos...Read more
Our next Beautiful Walk will be at Blacks Beach Reserve. Come along for a Sunday afternoon stroll through the tranquil trail to the beach. Along the way, we will walk through a diverse range of habitats such as woodland, mangrove and coastal ecosystems. Each of these habitats support a fascinating range of plants and animals.
Joining us will be guest speakers who will talk about the value of mangroves and the importance of Blacks Beach for a number of native animals, including some unusual ant species!
Where: Blacks Beach
Meet: End of Pacific Drive
Time: Sunday 24 June, 3pm - 5pm
The Beautiful Walks program has been running for 4 years and is the Mackay Conservation Group’s most popular event. The walks are held in natural locations around Mackay and highlight the environmental beauty of the region. The event is held monthly, open to the public and free to attend.
Adani's Carmichael mine threatens the health of ancient and precious water sources connected to the Great Artesian Basin. Regional communities rely on it this water, and Australian's everywhere want to protect it.
Adani's Carmichael mine will drain at least 270 billion litres of groundwater over the life of the mine - that's four Sydney Harbours! Read more about the predicted impacts here.
That's why we are joining together to Walk for Water and call on the Qld government to do the right thing for Queenslanders and Australians by saying no to letting Adani tap in to our water resources.
This is a really important event and part of a big push to secure water resources into the future - we need as many people as possible to come along!
Plus there will be speakers, music and a colourful parade of people - what better way to stand up for our water?!
We'll be holding regular meetings in the lead up so let us know if you would like to help make it all happen.
RSVP now so that we can keep you updated with details, speakers and so much more! And make sure share and invite your friends on Facebook!
If you can't come to the walk, make sure you sign the pledge to protect our water!
Cnr Wellington Street and Alfred Street
Mackay, Queensland 4740
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