Lawyers acting for the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) have written to the Federal Environment Minister asking for an investigation into potential breaches of national environment law by Adani following accusations the company carried out unlawful groundwater drilling at its Carmichael coal mine site.

Aerial imagery collected by Coast and Country Inc, and reviewed by ACF, appears to show that Adani has cleared vegetation and drilled six groundwater dewatering bores on the site of its proposed Carmichael coal mine before key environmental management plans have been approved by state and federal governments.

The conditions for Adani’s national environmental approval require the Federal Government to sign-off on a Matters of National Environmental Significance Management Plan prior to the commencement of any mining operations. There has been no public indication this Management Plan has been approved.

The Environmental Defenders Office of Queensland, acting on behalf of ACF, has written to Environment Minister Melissa Price asking her to order an urgent independent investigation into any alleged breaches of national environment law by Adani through this activity.

This follows reports on the ABC this morning that the Queensland Government is investigating Adani’s conduct for potential breaches of state law.

This is the second allegation of illegal conduct by Adani in Australia. Last week, the Queensland Government announced that it would prosecute Adani for releasing excessive polluted coal water into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area during Cyclone Debbie.

In response to the fresh allegations, ACF Chief Executive Officer, Kelly O’Shanassy, said:

“It is disturbing that Adani is allegedly unlawfully drilling into Australia’s precious groundwater aquifers, especially at a time when more than half of Queensland is experiencing severe drought.

“It would be prudent for the Federal Government to launch an immediate and independent investigation into these allegations against Adani. The public has a right to know what harm may have already occurred to the environment and what enforcement action the government will take.

“Our elected representatives have repeatedly assured us that Adani will be subjected to strict environmental conditions. But these are only worth anything if they are enforced.

“Burning the coal to be dug up at Adani’s new mine will create more of the pollution that fuels the climate damage our country is facing through more extreme droughts, bushfires and coral bleaching.

“Australia does not need another dirty coal mine that will pollute our climate and guzzle our clean water. The power to revoke Adani’s federal environmental approval is available to the Minister and should be exercised without delay.”

Josh Meadows

Media Adviser at the Australian Conservation Foundation