Adani's Abbot Point coal contamination of Caley Valley wetlands

Adani's coal export terminal at Abbot Point was in the direct path of Category 4 Cyclone Debbie. There was reason to expect a large storm surge, but this did not occurr, but the destructive winds and torrential rain caused Adani to release contaminated water into the adjacent wetlands and ocean.

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  1. With Category 4 Tropical cyclone Debbie approaching on March 28, Adani Point Bulk Coal Pty Ltd obtained a temporary emissions licence (TEL) to increase the release limits for total suspended solids from 30 mg/L to 100 mg/L during a 4 day period from 27 March 2017 to 30 March 2017 at two locations. An investigation is currently underway by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) into the circumstances and impact of the release, which will determine if any environmental regulations have been breached. It is, however, an offence to place a contaminant where serious or material environmental harm may be caused.
  2. Adani's Abbot Point coal spill_11 April 2017_credit Dean Sewell/Oculi
    Adani's Abbot Point coal spill_11 April 2017_credit Dean Sewell/Oculi
  3. Adani's Abbot Point coal spill_11 April 2017_credit Dean Sewell/Oculi
    Adani's Abbot Point coal spill_11 April 2017_credit Dean Sewell/Oculi
  4. Adani's Abbot Point coal spill_11 April 2017_credit Dean Sewell/Oculi
    Adani's Abbot Point coal spill_11 April 2017_credit Dean Sewell/Oculi
  5. Adani's Abbot Point coal spill_11 April 2017_credit Dean Sewell/Oculi
    Adani's Abbot Point coal spill_11 April 2017_credit Dean Sewell/Oculi
  6. On Sunday April 9 the Mackay Conservation Group published on their facebook page a before and after photo of the Abbot Point export coal terminal owned by Adani, and part of the Caley Valley wetlands adjacent to it. Here is the text of their post:
  7. Satellite imagery released by the Qld Government shows serious harm has occurred the the Caley Valley wetlands which adjoin Adani's Abbot Point coal terminal in the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie.
    The imagery shows the wetlands, which were in good condition in 2016, have been turned black by coal escaping from the port.
    Mackay Conservation Group is dismayed by the spill in 5000 hectare wetlands that are home to over 40,000 shorebirds during the wet season. Over 200 species have been identified in the wetlands including a nationally important population of the vulnerable Australian Painted Snipe.
    "These images show the lack of capacity Adani has to operate in a sensitive environment," said Mackay Conservation Group coordinator, Peter McCallum.
    "Adani wants to build a new coal terminal at the port that will involve extensive dredging in Great Barrier Reef waters, then pile the waste rock and mud alongside these wetlands. That will put the wetlands and the reef under even greater threat."
    "It's obvious that Adani doesn't know how to manage its existing facilities in a way that will protect the wetlands, or perhaps the company just doesn't care."
    Mackay Conservation Group has written to Queensland Environment Minister, Steven Miles, to request more information regarding the volume of coal that has been spilled into the wetlands, how the government intends to rehabilitate them and whether any steps will be taken to prosecute those responsible for the environmental damage.
    "Nobody should be able to get away with causing harm as terrible as this without facing severe penalties."
    "We have no confidence that Adani will be able to manage the environmental impacts of the port expansion or any other aspect of its massive coal mining operation."
    "This is further evidence of Adani's poor environmental record. Australia can't risk allowing them to set up business here."
  8. There was a conversation between Sam Regester of Getup and Mark Plackett about the two photos of the Abbot Point coal export terminal and risks of innundation or contamination of the local environment:
  9. “Adani’s current facilities are clearly inadequate to withstand Queensland’s existing weather,” says AMCS Great Barrier Reef Campaigner, Dr Lissa Schindler. “It is alarming that the Port’s storm-water facilities, which have been recently updated, could not handle this cyclone event – in a cyclone-prone region. It is reckless to allow Adani’s Carmichael Coal Mine to go ahead and permit the Port of Abbot Point to double in size. This is a disaster-in-waiting, especially given that severe weather events like this will increase and amplify as climate change worsens.”

    “The Caley Valley wetlands at Abbot Point are both nationally and internationally important as they provide breeding and roosting habitats for over 40,000 waterbirds, including 10 threatened species of waterbirds and migratory shorebirds,” says Dr Schindler. “This is an environmental disaster for the Wetlands and another severe blow for the Reef, which is already struggling from coral bleaching and poor water quality.”

    “Adani also has a highly dangerous track record on both environmental destruction and human rights. India’s former Environment Minister Mr Jairam Ramesh has said that Mr Adani has not complied with regulations in his own country – and so cannot be expected to comply with regulations in another country.

    ”It’s sickening that – instead of taking urgent action to stop this mine and protect our wonderful Aussie jewel – our Prime Minister is overseas courting a dangerous foreign company to build the world’s biggest ever coal mine. Adani is a company that is well known to have caused environmental devastation overseas – and we cannot trust them with our Reef.”
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