Community Calls on Federal Government to Step In to Protect Water

Published: January 30, 2013

Lock the Gate Alliance has today called on Federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke to step in to protect Central Queensland communities and the environment from toxic mine waste water currently being pumped from flooded mines in the Bowen Basin.

At least 20 coal mines have released contaminated waste water directly into rivers in Queensland since the floods started late last week.  In some cases, water has been discharged directly from pollution ponds. There is no requirement to treat the water before it is discharged.

"The Queensland government has shown that it does not have the backbone to stand up to mining interests and protect our whole community and our outstanding assets like the Great Barrier Reef from toxic mine discharges," said Ellie Smith, spokesperson for Lock the Gate.

"The federal government has a responsibility to ensure the Great Barrier Reef and other matters of national environmental significance are protected. Tony Burke can and should step in to stop this abhorrent practice," she said.

In 2011 the Queensland Floods Commission of Inquiry recommended that the Federal Government begin monitoring heavy metal levels in the Great Barrier Reef Marine park after it found that neither State nor Federal Government could estimate the impact of mine discharge on the Reef.   

"With the international spotlight on Australia’s custodianship of the Reef this week and more mine water accumulated in Central Queensland coal mines, now is the time for the Federal Member for Capricornia, Kirsten Livermore, and Environment Minister, Tony Burke, to step in to ensure Central Queensland’s rivers are no longer used as drains for untreated mine water."

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Images:

Flooded mines (images from November 2012): photographs, video slideshow

More information:

http://www.fitzroyriver.qld.gov.au/waterquality/water-releases.html

On the 1st February the Federal Government is due to report to UNESCO regarding measures to be taken to protect the Reef.

Lock the Gate campaign:

Water, More Precious than Coal.

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