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.
“There has been a terrible history of rivers cracking and water disappearing from creeks into long-wall tunnels, and now we have this plume of methane venting into the Nepean River.
“The Appin West mine has underground roads which they use to transport coal which go directly under the Nepean River.
“It is simply unacceptable to put our major rivers and water supply catchments at risk from dangerous coal mining.
“Before the last election NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell promised to protect water catchments from mining ‘No ifs, no buts, a guarantee’ he said.
“Well that promise has been broken and the people of Sydney now face a double whammy of expanding underground coal mining and coal seam gas.
“We are calling for Barry O’Farrell to act immediately and to ban all mining in catchments and near rivers and streams,” he said.