Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Centennial Coal to be fined following coal spill disaster

Media Release - Blue Mountains Conservation Society and the Colong Foundation for Wilderness ​

“Centennial Coal has pleaded guilty in the case heard today before Justice Robson of the Land and Environment Court involving a major coal fines spill that occurred on July 1st, 2015 at Clarence Colliery near Lithgow.  As a result of this spill, over ten kilometres of the Wollangambe River were smothered in sticky black coal fines.  The spill occurred as the company had failed to install floodlights, flow metres, level alarms, or ensure the integrity of structures containing the coal fines.  

They failed to undertake adequate training of contractors on procedures for pumping and monitoring of coal fine levels in the containment structure that collapsed when it overfilled.  Inadequate records were kept on the coal fines pumped to the containment structure so we will never know how much material ended up in the World Heritage Area, said Madi Maclean President of the Blue Mountains Conservation Society.

“While I am pleased to see that Centennial is in court today, I am disappointed there was no information on the changes to Centennial’s management practices that would prevent this coal fines spill happening again at a Centennial Coal mine”, Ms Maclean said. 

“We believe Centennial Coal should get the maximum fine for this massive discharge of coal fines to the river”, said Ms Maclean.

The Colong Foundation believes that Centennial Coal will get off lightly for harming a World Heritage Area through their guilty plea and clean-up efforts.  The clean-up was, however, slow and resulted in further contamination of the river” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness

“According to today’s EPA media release half the coal fines from Clarence Colliery must be still in the World Heritage listed river, but the EPA figures are just guess”, he said.

“Centennial Coal should have been prosecuted under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act by the Federal Government because of the extensive harm caused to the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.  Prosecution under Federal law would carry a much heavier fine but the Federal Environment Department ruled out such action,” Mr Muir said.

For more info. contact:
Keith Muir 0412 791 404 (mob) or Madi Maclean 0412 428 202