Adani has today contradicted its advice to the Queensland government, says the CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation Ms Kelly O’Shanassy.
Yesterday, the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) issued a media release declaring that:
“Adani Abbot Point Bulkcoal provided a report to EHP on 24 April advising it had a water discharge on 30 March from a licensed point on the northern side of the terminal, containing 806mg/L of sediment.
This release of polluted water, containing suspended solids at 800% the permitted concentration, was from a location where discharged wastewater flows out of the site, towards a beach to the north of the coal terminal, which is part of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
However, today, Adani has released a statement declaring that it:
“refutes assertions that its Abbot Point coal handling facility discharged contaminated water in the wake of Cyclone Debbie.”
Ms O’Shanassy, who has a Science Honours degree and previously worked at the Victorian Environment Protection Authority said, “That Adani is now contradicting its own report of compliance with this licence is highly concerning. It raises fresh questions about Adani’s ability to self-monitor its environmental impact at the Abbot Point site and of the suitability of the Environment Department to rely on the company’s evidence.”
“Adani’s licence to pollute during Cyclone Debbie did not place any limit on the volume of contaminated water that it could discharge. It just limited the concentration of pollutants in the water to over 300% the normally permitted levels.
“Adani failed to meet even these relaxed pollution controls.
“An accurate assessment of whether Adani complied with its licence is entirely dependant on quality monitoring when the discharge of contaminated water was actually occurring. The adequacy of these arrangements have not been publicly disclosed.
“Determining compliance by sampling after the fact is highly challenging. This is because the presence of pollutants, such as coal, in the environment after the discharge has occurred is not sufficient to prove a breach - alarming as this is.
“The pollution license issued by the Department did not prohibit the release of pollutants, including coal, it merely restricted their concentration in the discharged water. Once the discharge has ceased, this concentration is, in most cases, next to impossible to determine.
“It is therefore highly concerning that the Department did not commence its investigation of the incident until over a week after Cyclone Debbie struck and did not collect samples until approximately two weeks after it occurred. This will severely hamper its ability to identify any breach of the licence.
“Last week a site inspection by the MacKay Conservation Group and the Australian Marine Conservation Society, accompanied by scientists, identified what looks like coal sediment in the Caley Valley Wetlands. This visible evidence flies in the face of Adani’s claims of no discharge from their coal port.” Ms O’Shanassy said.