5 February 2021
Adani’s failure to prepare construction sites on its Carmichael mine rail corridor for wet season flooding has resulted in serious pollution and environmental damage. This pollution has potentially impacted on water quality flowing into wetlands, the coast and, ultimately, the Great Barrier Reef.
Mackay Conservation Group (“MCG”), a local community group, is concerned that Adani’s poor site management and lack of appropriate sediment controls will significantly increase the risk of further environmental damage and breaches in the immediate future.
MCG believes that conditions imposed by the Queensland Coordinator General (QCG) on Adani’s North Galilee Basin Rail Project to protect nearby waterways from contamination may have been breached. The conditions require the development and implementation of erosion and sediment control measures.
With several months remaining in this year’s wet season, flooding and heavy rainfall in the Carmichael Mine and Rail Project area is likely. The Bureau of Meteorology's recently released climate outlook finds that February to April is likely to be wetter than average for much of Australia, with a greater than 70 per cent chance for Queensland.
MCG’s lawyers at Environmental Justice Australia (EJA), have written a letter to Meaghan Scanlon, Queensland's Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, urging an immediate investigation of Adani’s flood mitigation failures, sediment control breaches and potential breaches of the QCG conditions at three specific locations along the Adani railway line which is currently under construction. EJA has also requested urgent inspection of all construction sites along the North Galilee Rail Project.
EJA’s letter to the minister refers to Adani’s history of non-compliance with environmental regulations and attaches an Environmental Pollution Incident (“EPI”) report. In December 2020 Adani was fined by the federal environment department for not implementing the approved species management plan and breaching its federal environmental approval for the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project.
Photos of the alleged breaches provided in the EPI report were taken approximately two weeks after intense rainfall in late December, which left large sections of Adani’s rail corridor submerged beneath flood waters.
The EPI report provides evidence of widespread flood damage and ineffective sediment control measures including:
- destroyed or compromised and ineffective erosion and sediment control measures
soil stockpiles with no visible erosion control measures
heavily disturbed and unstabilised riparian areas
debris from flooding within the construction site, including
branches and other vegetation
An independent report was produced for Isaac Regional Council following a similar complaint made in June 2019 in relation to the Carmichael Coal Mine and Rail Project. This report concluded that the erosion and sediment controls in place were not sufficiently appropriate for the site and were likely in breach of s 440ZG of the Environmental Protection Act 1994.
Also attached with the letter was an EJA report, Suitable Scrutiny, urging Queensland’s environment laws to be fixed to allow scrutiny of Adani’s suitable operator status.
Quotes attributable to Peter McCallum, Coordinator at Mackay Conservation Group:
“The Queensland government must immediately investigate Adani's potential breaches that have caused serious sediment pollution of Queensland’s critical waterways, including those that flow into the Great Barrier Reef."
"The government must urgently inspect all construction sites on the Carmichael railway line to ensure that they are following the rules that are supposed to protect our precious waterways from sediment pollution."
“The government must prosecute any company or individual found to be in breach of the environmental rules that regulate this project.”
“Adani is a serial offender when it comes to breaching environmental rules. In December 2020 Adani was found to have breached a federal environmental approval for failing to implement its species management plan. Just weeks later Adani failed to prepare for wet season flooding, allowing sediment and erosion to pollute waterways crossing their rail line.”
Quotes attributable to Ariane Wilkinson, Senior Lawyer at EJA:
“Adani continues to show a blatant disregard for environmental laws and regulation in Australia and around the world."
"Adani cannot be trusted to protect our air, water and wildlife from damage caused by the construction of their mine, and certainly not to protect World Heritage sites like our Great Barrier Reef."
“The Queensland should reassess Adani’s suitability to operate in Queensland after yet another breach that could cause damage to waterways and ultimately the Great Barrier Reef.”
“To continue to let Adani operate in Australia with their shocking track record of not complying with the laws that protect our air, water and wildlife, is grossly irresponsible.”
Peter McCallum (Mackay Conservation Group) 0402 966 560
Ariane Wilkinson (Environmental Justice Australia) 0403 364 771