Adani Coal Port pollution report shows wetlands contamination

MEDIA RELEASE  20 September, 2017

Adani Coal Port pollution report shows wetlands contamination, begs more questions than it answers.

Peak environment body Queensland Conservation Council has expressed alarm at formal evidence of coal pollution in the ecologically significant Caley Valley Wetlands, and has suggested this raises a series of questions about monitoring, enforcement and responsibility.

A report released by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection indicates there is coal contamination in the Caley Valley Wetlands, which lie next to the Adani Coal Terminal at Abbot Point.  The report shows that at one section near to what’s known as the ‘W1’ release point, sediment in the wetlands contains 10% coal pollutant.    

While the report appears to suggest that there has not been any environmental harm from this, Queensland Conservation Council believes it is far too early to make such statements given the toxic hydrocarbon substances in question.

Adani Coal Holdings which manages the Adani Abbot Point facility was recently fined a paltry $12,000 for an unauthorised release of water from the Abbot Point Coal Terminal, which was eight times over the additional limit that was temporarily granted to the company.   Adani is now challenging that fine.

“This Adani coal port pollution report clearly shows that the Caley Valley wetlands contain coal contamination”, said Queensland Conservation Council head Dr Tim Seelig.

 “We still don’t know exactly why there were such huge water releases from the Adani Abbot facility, how much coal was in the water and where it all went.

“But now we do know that sediment in sections of the wetlands contains 10% coal pollutant.   That is vastly more than we would expect to occur naturally, and it confirms that there is coal contamination in the Caley Valley Wetlands.  Adani should be held responsible and fined.

“Whether this contamination is a result of water pollution, airborne pollution, or both is not obvious. The absence of baseline historical and periodic data makes it hard to be certain, but there is now strong if not irrefutable evidence that the coal terminal is responsible.

“It is likely that we have a situation of long-term contamination of the wetlands, most likely made worse by water releases containing elevated levels of coal sediment.  This raises key questions about the environmental safety and sustainability of this and similar facilities.

“Regrettably, we simply don’t know what the long-term effects of coal in these environments may be on local wildlife, Coal is not a clean inert substance, it’s a hazardous hydrocarbon, and we may not fully know what it is doing ecologically for some time.

“This case has also highlighted that there is a complete lack of baseline and periodic data collection, independent environmental monitoring, and real-time enforcement of standards.

“Until we know what exactly is going on at Abbot Point, the government should seriously consider suspending Adani’s operating licences as well as commissioning further research.”

For further comment contact:

Queensland Conservation Council Coordinator Dr Tim Seelig on 0439 201 183

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