Report of Abbot Point coal port sediment release requires a strong response and a review of licences

MEDIA RELEASE for immediate release: 3 May 2017

Report of Abbot Point coal port sediment release requires a strong response and a review of licences

Peak state environment group Queensland Conservation Council has expressed deep concern on news that the Adani Abbot Point Bulkcoal facility has itself admitted releasing heavily sediment-contaminated water during Tropical Cyclone Debbie. It is unclear whether the water and sediment reached the marine environment, part of the GBR World Heritage Area.

Queensland Conservation Council understands that Adani Abbot Point Bulkcoal reported to the state regulator that it released water with over 800 milligrams of sediment per litre, which vastly exceeded its Temporary Emissions Licence limiting releases to 100mg/L.  The exact nature of the sediment remains unclear. While the company claims that sediment was not coal-based, the high level of sediment raises legitimate questions about its content.

The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection is the state regulator for this matter, and is understood to be looking at compliance action against Adani Abbot Point Bulkcoal regarding water releases under the Temporary Emissions Licence. Testing continues to take place on the form and level of potential contamination from the coal port into the Caley Valley Wetlands adjacent to the facility, and its ecological impacts.

Queensland Conservation Council believes the time is right to review the entire model of temporary licences to release potentially contaminated water due to cyclones and floods.

“This is a deeply troubling situation, which requires a full explanation and enforcement action”, said head of the Queensland Conservation Council, Dr Tim Seelig.

“For the Adani Abbot Point Bulkcoal facility itself to fess up to releasing heavily sediment-contaminated water shows how serious the matter is. What we need to know is where did it go, and was it released into the marine environment?

 “We acknowledge the importance of proper detailed testing and analysis of the sediment releases, and recognise the work of the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection in getting to the bottom of the situation.

“The Adani Abbot Point Bulkcoal company should be covering the full costs of the testing, analysis and any clean-up.

 “There are still many questions to answer about what happened at Abbot Point, and just as importantly about how we avoid these situations in the future.

“This case highlights that we need a review of the whole model of Temporary Emissions Licences, when this has been used to circumvent existing limits to environmental damage.

“Cyclones and major weather events are foreseeable events in northern and central Queensland, so this was hardly an unexpected scenario. It is not acceptable that coal ports get away with poor planning and expect temporary licences to be issued as a matter of course.”

For further information or comment contact:

Queensland Conservation Council Coordinator Dr Tim Seelig on 0439 201 183

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