Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Envt Groups welcome Labor’s call for the Baird Govt to act on Springvale mine pollution

Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness has welcomed NSW Labor’s call for Environment Minister, Mark Speakman, to enforce ANZECC water standards on discharges from the Springvale Mine.  The Colong Foundation hopes that this appeal made jointly by Adam Seale and Penny Sharpe is sympathetically considered by the NSW Government.

“Conservationists appreciate the NSW Opposition call for definite pollution limits and a set timetable to achieve these limits for the proposed Springvale mine extension.  These matters need to be nailed down.  The Department of Planning and Environment proposal is for an open-ended process of options and negotiations that Centennial Coal will exploit to the hilt.  Centennial didn’t get over 900 pollution infringement notices in the last decade at its Springvale mine for being a model mine operator”, said Mr Muir.

“The ANZECC pollution standards are, however, an ‘off-the-shelf guide’ for rural districts, and inappropriate for high conservation value streams like the Coxs River that flow through the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and into our main drinking water supply.  The 350EC pollution level is too high for headwater streams in the Blue Mountains and conservationists have been consistently calling for a 30EC discharge limit, which matches the natural background salinity of local streams,” Mr Muir said.

Springvale’s rising flood of pollution

“It isn’t just the concentration of pollution that is at issue.  Centennial Coal is discharging 23ML/day of highly saline 1200EC mine effluent right now. This amount is 4ML/day more than the worst case that the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) considered in its review of the next 13 years of mine operation. Clearly something is wrong,” he said.

“Centennial Coal is seeking to duplicate is discharge infrastructure so it can pump 50ML/day.  Springvale is a very wet mine, in fact the wettest underground mine in Australia.  The Environmental Impact Statement estimated discharges of 43.8ML/day but then Centennial has hoodwinked the regulators into accepting construction of an expanded discharge system, while claiming unrealistically low discharges”, Mr Muir said. 

“The PAC should convene another public hearing and consider the issues put by the NSW Opposition and also address growing concern with the rising flows of poorly treated pollution coming from Springvale mine”, said Mr Muir.

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