NSW: Arsenic in Our Waterways
Recent analysis of pollution data from the coal mining industry in NSW has found that in 2013/14 the coal mining industry dumped 26,894kg of heavy metals and other pollutants into streams and rivers, including large volumes of dangerous substances like arsenic and lead.
The report also found that the coal mining industry pollutes for free, whilst other industries like electricity generation have to pay to pollute. NSW taxpayers are losing out on $14M per year, because coal companies are allowed to pollute at no cost.
QLD: Condamine River On Fire
In late May 2012, the Condamine river was found to be ‘bubbling like a spa bath’, near the Qld country town of Chinchilla. And it’s still happening. There is so much methane gas coming from the river that it can be set on fire! Local farmers confirmed that this has never occurred before in their lifetimes.
There are 28 CSG wells within a 10km radius of the stretch of river where the bubbling is occurring, and CSG drilling is the most likely cause. Very similar problems have occurred in the US after gas drilling near major rivers. However, both the CSG industry and the Qld Government are refusing to admit CSG as the cause at Chinchilla. CSIRO recently stated that the bubbling has now intensified.
NSW: Wollangambe River Runs Black
In 2015, a massive pile of coal waste at the Clarence coal mine, near Lithgow, collapsed into the headwaters of the near pristine Wollangambe River, which flows into the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. The river ran black as the coal sludge spread further and further down the river. The coal company, Centennial Coal, has still not been prosecuted for the spill.
In addition to that specific pollution event, the Clarence coal mine is also allowed to directly discharge treated wastewater into the Wollangambe River. In 2015, a review by the EPA found that this discharge of wastewater was leading to highly elevated levels of a number of pollutants, including nickel, strontium, sulfur and zinc. In some cases, pollutant levels were 50 to 100 times greater than ‘natural levels’ and were at levels toxic to aquatic invertebrates and algae.
NSW: Pilliga Groundwater Contaminated
In 2014, Santos contaminated groundwater in the Pilliga with uranium at 20 times safe levels and other substances like barium, strontium and lead. The EPA concluded that two aquifers had been contaminated – one shallow and one deeper aquifer. The contamination occurred as a result of leakage from a major CSG waste water storage pond at the Bibblewindi Water Treatment Plant.
Previously, CSG operations in the Pilliga had involved a major spill of waste water and discharge of polluted water into Bohena Creek, plus numerous other leaks and environmental incidents. Santos, however, was fined only $1,500 for the groundwater contamination incident.
Queensland: Dewatering Central Queensland
Analysis of the groundwater impacts of 9 coal mines proposed in the Galilee Basin of Central Qld estimated that up to 2,007 billion litres of groundwater could be lost as a result of water being pumped out or drained by the mines. That is more than two and half times the volume of water in Sydney Harbour.
It is predicted that this water loss will result in more than 400 water bores on adjoining properties being put at risk from groundwater drawdown, which provide water supplies for households and livestock, along with the townships of Alpha and Jericho.