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
Google map and directions
Mackay, Queensland. Mackay Conservation Group has today called on Premier Palaszczuk to rule out giving Adani up to $100 million of taxpayers funds for a road upgrade for its proposed mine, noting that dedicating public funds to the coal project would break her election promise of ‘no state funding for Adani’. (“Qld Government considering funding $100m road for Adani mine, documents show”, ABC today).
Mackay Conservation Group community organiser Maggie McKeown said, “Yet again the Queensland government is actively considering giving Adani handouts to build a mine that the majority of Queenslanders do not want.
“The Queensland Coordinator General recommended Adani be responsible for road upgrades and Adani said it would pay for the upgrade. Why then would the Premier spend public funds on this project?
“Polls show that seven out of ten Queenslanders say Adani should fund its own project rather than expect a taxpayer subsidy. (Stop Adani Alliance, October 2017)
“Queenslanders want public money spent on schools, hospitals and large-scale renewable energy projects. They quite rightly do not support their taxes being used to maximise the profits of a an overseas mining billionaire.
“Adani has received special deals from all levels of government. The Palaszczuk government has been the biggest offender, offering cut price royalties, a license to take unlimited groundwater for 60 years and a license to pollute at Abbot Point Coal Terminal during Cyclone Debbie.
“Enough is enough. The Premier must today rule out this latest leg up, using taxpayers’ money,” Ms McKeown said.
Contact: Maggie McKeown 0434 837 774
The RTI documents and a briefing paper can be found here.
ACF report, A Fistful of Dollars: Adani’s Preferential Treatment by Federal, State and Local Australian Governments, Oct 2017
Mackay Conservation Group is a volunteer based organisation that was established in 1983 that works to protect Central Queensland’s environment www.mackayconservationgroup.org.au
The Mackay Conservation Group is a member driven organisation. Our monthly meetings are a great chance for members and volunteers to come together, hear about upcoming events and offer suggestions on our work.
Our guest speaker for June is the amazing Steve Fisher, the marine operations manager from the not-for-profit organisation Wild Mob. Steve will give a presentation on the valuable conservation work that Wild Mob does, upcoming projects and how you can be involved!
Tuesday 19 June, 6:30 - 8:30pm
Mackay Environment Centre, 156 Wood St
Crocodiles are an iconic species of Northern Australia. They were almost hunted to extinction during the mid twentieth century but in 1974 legislation protected all crocodiles from unlicensed killing.
A bill has been introduced to the Queensland parliament by Katter Party MP, Shane Knuth, that would permit crocodile hunting, egg collection, removal and relocation to crocodile reserves. The Safer Waterways Bill is based on the false premise that there is a significant problem of crocodile attack in Queensland. The explanatory notes to the bill provide a thorough summary of the intentions of the proposed legislation.
The ABC recently undertook a fact check of Bob Katter's claim that a person is killed by a crocodile every three months in North Queensland. They found his claim to be false. Since 1985 there has been one fatal attack by a crocodile every three years. Meanwhile, in the 2007-2016 period there were on average 8.5 people killed in boating incidents in Queensland, a far more dangerous activity it seems.
The Queensland parliament's Innovation, Tourism Development and Environment Committee is currently seeking submissions on the Safer Waterways Bill 2018. You can help maintain the current protections for crocodiles by making a submission before 4pm on 31 May 2018 asking the committee to*:
- reject the entire Safer Waterways Bill 2018
- call on the Queensland Government to commit to rigorous community consultation with all First Nations Peoples regarding Crocodile Management
- ensure there is increase employment and training of ‘Indigenous Ranger and Protected Area’ programs
- call on the Queensland Government to explore nature-based tourism ventures for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, First Nations Peoples communities
- require further crocodile surveys to gain accurate scientific data on crocodile populations and crocodile egg health.
- require research investment into possible changes in crocodile egg mortality and survival rates to sexual maturity
- ensure there is no interference with crocodile populations through culling, removal or egg-harvesting be permitted unless conducted by authorised officers for essential public safety management, approved scientific research
- ensure there is well resourced "Be Croc-Wise" education campaign in Queensland
To be valid your submission must include your name and two of the three below:
- mailing address
- email address
- daytime phone number
Address your submission to
Innovation, Tourism Development and Environment Committee
Ph: 3553 6662 Fax: 3553 6699
*Thanks to Michael McCabe of Capricorn Conservation Council for these points