Media Release, 4th February 2013, Hunter & Central Rivers Alliance
A new regional alliance of 34 community groups has called on NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell to suspend all licenses subject to the current Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiries under Operations Jasper and Acacia.
The Hunter and Central Rivers Alliance (HCRA) is a collaboration between community groups (listed below), covering the Central Coast, Greater Hunter, Gloucester, Great Lakes, and Manning Regions.
The groups in the Alliance are campaigning to restore balance to decision making on coal and coal seam gas development in the region. The Alliance met in Rutherford over the weekend.
“The evidence given in ICAC hearings last week is damning,” said Steve Phillips, regional coordinator for Lock the Gate, one of the HCRA groups. “While we recognise that the investigation is not over, it would be irresponsible to allow continued exploration in license areas that may have been issued under a flawed and corrupt process.”
“A pause on exploration is a sensible response that recognises the impact that uncertainty around these projects is having on local communities, landholders, and other stakeholders,” said Phillips.
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.Read more
Today's blockade of coal seam gas company, Metgasco, at Glenugie near Grafton was a huge success despite the company's drill rig making it onto the property.
It took a force of about 80 police nine hours to clear the blockaders and eighteen people were arrested.
Six of those arrested refused to accept bail conditions and will spend the night in the cells before being brought before a magistrate in the morning.
The bail conditions would have made it illegal for any of the six to go within three kilometres of the site and has been used by police in the past to try to shut down such campaigns.
Lock the Gate Alliance president, Drew Hutton, said the day showed the fighting spirit of the Northern Rivers.
Very high levels of hippuric acid, a metabolite of the toxic chemical toluene, have been found in the urine of a 3 year-old child living on the Tara residential estate in Queensland.
The Tara estate, south of the town of Chinchilla, is in the middle of the most intensively developed coal seam gas field in Australia.
Experts from the National Toxics Network, Doctors for the Environment and others have been warning for some time of possible health impacts from contaminants in water, air and soil coming from coal seam gas activities and concerning levels of several of these chemicals have been found in air sampling on the Tara estate.
Scientists from Southern Cross University also recently found high levels of methane, carbon dioxide and concerning levels of radon in air samples taken in the district and US authorities are increasingly linking high air pollution levels to unconventional gas field activities.
Lock the Gate Alliance president, Drew Hutton, said it was time for the coal seam gas industry and the Queensland Government to take responsibility for what was happening to residents, move those who wished to leave and compensate them justly for the suffering caused.Read more
The discovery of methane gas bubbling up through the Nepean River as a result of underground coal mining should trigger urgent action by the NSW Government to protect rivers and catchments from mining, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.
BHP Billiton subsidiary Illawarra Coal has admitted that the methane vent is caused by long-wall mining panels which form part of its Appin West coal mine.
“The underground mines south of Sydney have been allowed to mine far too close to important rivers and water supplies like the Nepean River,” said Drew Hutton, national campaigner with Lock the Gate Alliance.Read more