Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Minerals Council's ‘Humpty-Dumpty' Environmental Award a real crack up

The Colong Foundation today condemned the NSW Mineral Council for awarding its top environmental prize to Peabody Coal for an experimental attempt to repair just one rock bar on the Waratah Rivulet south of Sydney . One such repair job does not prove the experimental glue technique is good enough for drinking water catchments and sufficient to wind back much stronger and proven protection measures.

“We need certainty for protection of water supplies during coal mining, not glue based repair jobs, as the consequences when things go wrong are just too great. We all know what happened to Humpty Dumpty. We don't want to forget that lesson, do we Minerals Council?” urged Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“And surprise, surprise, Monday is the last day for the to public comment on a bad proposal by Peabody Coal to intensively mine coal under the rest of Waratah Rivulet and even under the stored waters of Woronora Dam itself. Prof Hebblewhite, who chaired the award panel, would appear to be endorsing reliance on the ‘prize winning' experimental glue repair method for Peabody 's new mining proposal,” said Mr Muir.

“Just one glued rock bar does not prove the experiment is effective for restoring damaged streams, catchments or eroded headwater swamps. This award is a sad reflection on the engineering reputation of the mining industry”, he said.

“Prof Hebblewhite also chaired the Southern Coalfields Inquiry that produced recommendations for greater risk taking during coal mining operations,” he said.

“Hebblewhite's Inquiry Report is yet to be adopted or rejected by the NSW Government. Its recommendations could weaken environment regulation for underground coal mining. No longer would environmental impacts be prevented and risk avoided. The Inquiry recommended mine damage risks just be taken and that the coal industry rely on attempts at rehabilitation of the subsequent damage, such as the glue experiment on Waratah Rivulet”, said Mr Muir.

The Peabody 's environmental prize from the NSW Minerals Council was political. It appears to ignore others doing a better job, such as the Airly colliery that proposes to limit damage to a spectacular sandstone mesa using large protection zones. These zones prevent mining damage and are known to work. They should be applied right across our water supply catchments,” said Keith Muir

For more information contact: Keith Muir , (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (mob)