8th November, 2012: Greenpeace says Queensland Environment Minister, Andrew Powell, is wrong when he says new laws being rushed through Parliament won’t allow the release of stagnant, toxic flood water from Queensland coal mines into Queensland drinking water.
Minister Powell told the media on Monday that new powers in the Economic Development Bill, introduced to Parliament last week, would only allow the release of dirty water from mines during an emergency. This is not the case.
If these laws are passed in their current form, they will clearly enable coal mine operators to ask for and be given permission to release the water that is sitting in their mines at the moment.
The companies can simply argue the trapped water is an “unforeseen event” and apply for a Temporary Emissions Licence to release it as soon as possible.
The request can be made in person rather than in writing and the environment department will be forced to make a decision within 24 hours. The public won’t even be notified about what’s going on.
“There is one hundred thousand Olympic swimming pools of toxic water in Queensland coal mines that the mining companies want to release into a river that provides drinking water for Rockhampton and ultimately flows into the Great Barrier Reef,” said Georgina Woods,Greenpeace campaigner.
“We realise there may be exceptional circumstances in a genuine emergency when it could be necessary to release mine water to protect human lives or prevent even worse environmental damage, but these laws go much, much further than that,” said Woods.
“Jeff Seeney is clearly doing the bidding of the coal companies,” said Woods. “Premier Newman and Andrew Powell must intervene and demand these companies treat the water before any such release so that towns, farms and the Great Barrier Reef are not put at risk.”
Greenpeace Campaigner, Georgina Woods: 0438 223 771
Greenpeace Media Officer, Julie Macken: 0400 925 217
Direct link to images of flooded pits