Coalmine discharge fouls Georges River

CONTAMINATED water from a coalmine is flowing into the Georges River, south of Sydney, at levels that are toxic to aquatic life, an independent water quality report has shown.

A plume of saline water stretched along the river for 15 kilometres from the discharge point of an underground mine operated by Endeavour Coal, a subsidiary of BHP Billiton’s Illawarra Coal.

Discharges from West Cliff colliery near Appin are ”causing serious water pollution that is very likely to be damaging in-stream ecosystems,” says the report, which was completed on a voluntary basis by researchers from the University of Western Sydney.

But the environmental protection licence for the mine’s wastewater discharge does not limit the amount of saline water that can be flushed into the river.

”I can’t believe that we have put out something called an environment protection licence without any provision to protect the environment,” one of the authors, Dr Ian Wright, a freshwater ecologist at UWS, said. ”Salt at these levels is huge in the context of a river … If you sprayed it on your tomatoes they would wilt.”

Read full story by Ben Cubby

in SMH 4 August 2010

- Coalmine discharge fouls Georges River

Campbell Town Advertiser

16 June 2010 Expert has environmental concerns

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