Longwall Coal Mining is Jeopardising Water Supply

cordeaux 239 people participated on our Picnic at Cordeaux dam on 1/5/16 to protest about environmentally damaging longwall coal mining projects in the Metropolitan Drinking Water catchments.  Most of those were members of Oatley Flora and Fauna who sponsored the day, but there were also  some present from The Georges River Environmental Alliance and National Parks Assn, Macarthur.


Our particular focus was to oppose the proposal to extend the Dendrobium mining operations in the Cordeaux and Avon Dam catchments, as that was our location for the day. This project has done the most harm yet seen in terms of both draining  precious water yielding swamps and tributary streams, and yet the state government is on the verge of a further approval.

Attached is a report that some participants urged me to compile. It summarizes the current dam threatening proposals; The Metropolitan Mine in the Woronora, The Russell Vale Project in the Cataract as well as the aforementioned Dendrobium project. Included is some scathing evidence against the continuation of damaging longwall coal mining beneath our precious drinking water assets, from the governments’ own agencies and instrumentalities including the NSW Dam Safety Committee, the PAC Commission of Inquiry and Water NSW. It is therefore not surprising, that some of the comments included from participants on the fieldtrip, reveal a level of incredulity, appalling surprise,  that our state government not only permits, but even encourages coal mining that threatens drinking water supplies, and that it applies a third world standard of environmental regulation, in what is  supposedly our first world country. Apart from objecting to the appalling damage that is occurring, a discussion of the financial fragility of some of the proponents, and their poor record in terms of ethical governance added extra concerns.

Report by Picnic organiser Sharyn Cullis (1May 2016)

Please take the time to read paper by Sharyn Cullis which details why coal projects in drinking water catchments is wrong. 

Coal projects in the drinking water catchments 


Coal Mining & Water Pollution

River bed crackingAt the October meeting of Oatley Flora and Fauna Conservation Society, Dr Ian Wright from the University of Western Sydney (UWS) presented startling evidence of environmental damage caused by coal mining in the Sydney Region. Dr Wright worked as a scientific officer with Sydney Water investigating the impact of human activities on creeks and rivers in the Sydney basin before taking up a research fellowship at UWS in freshwater ecology and water pollution.

Ian is now a full-time lecturer teaching students in water quality and management, environmental planning and environmental regulation areas. Conducting his research on a limited budget and often faced with a hostile reception from mining interests in the Blue Mountains and Southern Highlands, Dr Wright and his students have persevered, comparing water samples taken upstream of mining activity with those down stream. They have found significant deterioration in water quality attributable to waste water discharge from mining operations. Toxic levels of salt, bicarbonate, zinc, nickel and other minerals have impacted on aquatic life and degraded the waters flowing through prized wilderness areas and World Heritage sites. yshattered_river_bed

Long-wall mining, in particular, is responsible for subsidence in the bedrock of some creeks and streams feeding into Sydney’s water catchments. Dr Wright showed photographic evidence of streams simply disappearing into cracks, only to re-emerge further ‘downstream’ polluted by mining waste. Dr Wright was critical of the Environmental Protection Agency, responsible for regulating the discharge of wastewater from mines. Pollution licence conditions need to be tightened requiring mining companies to meet higher standards, although he conceded the regulator had lifted its game recently but only under pressure from the community and, in turn, government.

Asked how Oatley Flora & Fauna Conservation Society members could help to stop mining companies from causing environmental damage, Dr Wright suggested the best way would be to keep the pressure on our politicians to introduce more stringent rules on mining activities. Dr Wright gave an undertaking to keep the Society informed of future developments in the regulation of the coal industry.

Ian Wright-OFF-presentation-Short-8-nov-2015


Impact of a coal mine waste discharge on water quality and aquatic ecosystems in the Blue Mountains World Heritage area.


15 NOVEMBER 2015 – LEADER ARTICLE “Coal Mining Risk revealed at Conservation Society meeting”

Sita Advanced Waste Treatment Facility

IMG_6917IMG_691510 people boarded the OFF bus at Oatley station at 09.30 on a beautiful sunny Autumn morning. We travelled out to the SITA Resource Recovery Park at Kemps Creek where the 11th person joined us. The Education Officer, Kristal Dilucchio gave a very interesting presentation, and fielded MANY question from us, before kitting us out in high –vis vests, hard hats, and safety goggles. We then boarded the bus for the trip to the other side of the resource park, where, after fitting bright pink ear plugs, we entered the SAWT Facility.

The rubbish is processed in 2 different lines, one for green organics and kitchen waste ( green bin) from Penrith council, and one for general waste along with kitchen waste ( red bin ) from Liverpool Council.

IMG_6927Most of the processing occurs under cover in a huge hangar like building. The red bin waste has several stages of processing and sorting, by large magnet, a process to take out the aluminium, and manually, at this stage. The green bin waste doesn’t need these steps. There are 14 tunnels that the rubbish is stored in, for the first 3-4 weeks ( where it can have air and water put in) where the decomposition is initially started. The material is then sifted and processed again before being put outside in long lines, in various stages of decomposition, mostly covered with tarps ( especially in the cold weather, to speed up the decomposition).


IMG_6922IMG_6930IMG_6943IMG_6916The whole process takes from 14-16 weeks. Both end products are very rich in organic nutrients, but the red bin waste is contaminated with some metal and glass fragments, and is only used for mine reclamation, while the green bin waste produces a very high grade compost for all general purpose landscaping uses. It was evident that plastic bags are a significant problem for the managers of our waste, as are old VHS tapes.

We resolved to lobby our respective councils to include kitchen waste for recycling (either the red bin system or the green bin system) as it cuts down the amount of waste going to landfill by about 60%.  CLICK HERE FOR MORE PHOTOS

After leaving SITA, we visited a nearby coffee shop, for delicious liquid refreshment, before the return journey.

Report by excursion leader Alison Gilroy

Wipes a sewer menace

Interesting follow up information on our visit to Liverpool Water Recycling Plant in regard to the so-called flushable wet wipes has blocked pumpbeen provided by our tour organiser Kim Wagstaff.


Rain Water Harvesting in Oatley

Jim Vickery , OFF member and retired Environmental Engineer, spoke on this topic at the 27th Oct meeting. Jim is determined to capture as much life- giving rain falling on his roof as possible by storing it in water tanks around his home. This reduces his reliance on town water supply and the erosive impact of excess storm water on our local streams. He provided guidelines and graphs showing the relationship between tank size and roof area based on rainfall records. In drier times, the Reliable Draw[water drawn every day without emptying tank ] is between Average Summer and Dry Winter levels shown in this chart. It is a useful guide relating storage volume and roof catchment area. A 2000L tank provides 50 100 L/day [if catchment is 100 sqm or more], sufficient to supply a
toilet in a small household and some water for the garden. A 6000L tank needs at least 200 sqm of catchment to supply water to a washing machine, toilet, and garden. Techniques for the collection, storage and delivery of rainwater were reviewed along
with uses for the water that overflows the tank. Jim runs his excess water into a swale in his backyard providing a bog that can recharge the water table. Running excess into a pond is another excellent method of harvesting rain water.
Rainwater tank installation guidelines:
  • Determine your daily need for rainwater.
  • Determine the size of your available roof catchment area.
  • A 2000 L tank will provide 50 to 100 L/day from a 100 sq m or larger roof.
  • A 6000 L tank or larger is necessary for supplying a washing machine or something similar. If the roof catchment area is greater than 200 sq m then the tank is less likely to empty out during dry periods .



Fractured Country: An Unconventional Invasion

This morning, mining affected communities and their supporters from the Sydney area walked into the headquarters of the NSW Department of Planning and Environment to submit a log of claims outlining the outrageous abuses of process and public trust in which the Department has engaged in its intimate support for the mining industry.

Our June OFF meeting was attended by more than 80 members and guests and featured a presentation by Nell Schofield from Lock the Gate Alliance,known for her lead role in the Aussie Cult classic Puberty Blues and later as a TV presenter.

Nell spoke about problems communities are facing under siege from coal and gas companies, The coalition’s primary goal is to ensure policy reform to protect land and water resources.

Fractured country videoPlease take the time to see their excellent documentary on this issue. Fractured Country: An Unconventional Invasion click video photo to watch video.




Environmental Dilemmas

Slide19John Davoren (OFF member and Editor of OFF news) on 23 September 2013 made a presentation to the society on our environment and the dilemmas facing an effective program for protecting it .

The areas listed as threatened and/or threatening included population growth, and degradation of energy resources, land, flora and fauna, air, water and food. The extent of human activity influencing the environment is hotly debated. Protection measures are severely criticised, as those not convinced of any human contribution see such expenditure as unproductive, and an unnecessary waste in fiscally trying times. The economic argument slows the implementation of protective processes, and the picture is further muddied when it is not agreed on what protection can and should be provided. Environmental conservation is important, and if we waste our natural resources,they will eventually be exhausted. What we need is sustainability, where we can live within our planet’s means socially, environmentally and economically.

SustainClick here to view slides of talk.Environmental Dilemmas

Note  file is 13.2Mb and take a few minutes to load.


Backyards for Wildlife

2012 OBackyards for Wildlife – A guide to creating habitat for native animals. Take the time to read this very  informative booklet produced by Bathhurst Regional Council, although the examples are of the Bathurst region there is much we can learn from this example.

Contents include -
♣ Why wildlife is important
♣ What is a Backyard for Wildlife?
♣ Tips for  creating habitat for your backyard for wildlife
♣ Fauna friendly fences
♣ Pets and wildlife
♣ Vegie gardens, organics, and backyard wildlife
♣ Urban yards & The rural yard
♣ Wildlife of the Bathurst region
♣ seful references for further information

Since Europeans first settled on the Bathurst plains in 1815, there have been drastic changes to our local environment. The grasslands and grassy woodlands were favoured for agriculture, and hence, the wildlife that existed there was the first to be displaced. …..

Despite these changes, Koalas, Platypuses, turtles, dragons, quolls, owls, falcons,treecreepers, pardalotes, pobblebonks, orb weavers and hundreds more local wildlife species still exist in the Bathurst Region:Through the enhancement of the human environment – our homes – we can greatly improve the environment for local fauna. By creating Backyards for Wildlife, each resident can take simple steps to reduce the pressures on Bathurst Region wildlife, and ensure that those animals that share our lives are assured a future.

Click here to download Pdf (3Mb) – Backyards For Wildlife


Beyond Climate Denial on a Neoliberal Planet

Manne,-RobertAbboud,-Antoinette-c-Conor-AshleighWalker,-Jeremy Sydney Writer Fest – In an election year, there seems less impetus for climate action than ever. Why has the Left, which has always regarded itself as having science on its side, been outflanked on climate policy? What does the bizarre success of denialism and the radical calls for planetary scale geo-engineering portend for the changing status of science in our society? Antoinette Abboud, Jeremy Walker and Robert Manne untangle the complex relationships between climate, politics and economic doctrines in a discussion with Overland editor Jeff Sparrow.

Click here to read more from Sydney Writers Fest

Excerpt from Overland magazine

We live in a winter of disconnect. As the permafrost melts and global warming accelerates, bringing us to the cusp of catastrophic environmental changes, governments and corporations continue their campaign of denial….

Many of us are caught up in the public theatre of climate policy, confounded that something so transparently illogical as outright science denial has been so effective. Why has the Left, which has always regarded itself as having science on its side, been so paralysed by climate policy?……

Geoengineering is a portmanteau term covering a range of intentional large-scale manipulations of the Earth’s climate…..

Like most neoliberal prescriptions, the most important aspect of this tortured marriage of science and corporate commodification is that it doesn’t work. Geoengineering presumes corporations can take unilateral actions violating international treaties and not have to own the consequences. It doesn’t resolve the root problem – increasing CO2 concentrations – and it will not stop ocean acidification, itself so dire that some scientists have called for a suite of novel ‘ocean engineering’ techniques to prevent the collapse of coral reefs.

Click here to To read  OVERLAND article on neoliberalism, climate and policy


Composting Fact Sheetcompost title

On a recent excursion to Mt Annan Botanic gardens some members picked up the FACT SHEET ON COMPOSTING  and were keen to share this little gem.






CLICK PHOTO to link to More about composting