Mining industry gets more protection than Sydney’s drinking water catchment

Published: July 02, 2018

Lock the Gate Alliance says an Audit Office investigation into the regulation of pollution in drinking water catchments exposes the appalling consequences of the NSW Government decision last year to change the law to allow pollution by coal mines to continue.

After a successful court case brought by community group 4Nature against the discharge of polluted water from the Springvale coal mine into the catchment of the Warragamba Dam, the NSW Government last year changed the law to allow the pollution to continue unchecked. 

This Audit Office report released last week reveals that the NSW Government has failed to investigate the cause of worsening salinity in Lake Burragorang, despite a recommendation twelve months ago that it needed to be done.

In contrast, the NSW Government acted very quickly to protect mining industry interests, despite a successful court case against them polluting the catchment.

Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Georgina Woods said, “The people of New South Wales are seeing their water polluted while mining companies lean on Governments to wind back environmental protections.

“Springvale coal mine has been discharging polluted water into tributaries of Warragamba Dam for years, and when a community group stepped in to stop it, the NSW Government moved to protect the mining industry, not the catchment.  

“The polluted water comes from the coal seams that are targeted for mining, and it is highly saline and contains heavy metals.

“Now the NSW Government is considering new and highly damaging coal mine expansion projects at Russell Vale, the Southern Highlands and Dendrobium.

“It’s time for all of this to stop. The EPA and the Government must order Springvale mine to stop discharging pollution into the Coxs River and the Government must impose a moratorium on any further coal mining in the catchment area.

“Allowing coal mines to pollute our catchment is doing real damage to Sydney’s drinking water. It’s time to choose clean safe drinking water.”  

The Audit Office report is available here.

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