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Byron Shire
March 5, 2021

Adani in hot water over wetland breach

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The Adani Group are in hot water again after news that they have had their second licence breach in two years.

The breach saw coal-contaminated water overflow from their port at Abbot Point into the Caley Valley Wetlands during last week’s heavy rainfall in Queensland.

Adani is currently being prosecuted by the Queensland government for a previous pollution breach, when it spilt more than 800% of the allowable level of coal-laden water into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

On Tuesday, Adani admitted it had again exceeded its licence to pollute by almost double, releasing 58 mg total suspended solids (TSS) into the sensitive wetlands – Adani is licensed to release a maximum of 30 mgs per litre of TSS.

A statement from Adani

In a statement from Abbot Point Operations Adani said: ‘Abbot Point Operations today reconfirmed that flood waters moving across the site last week did not enter the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

‘However, flood water did enter the Caley Valley Wetlands via an authorized release point, as well as from the wetland’s broader catchment area.

‘Flood water entering the wetlands from Abbot Point Operations authorized release point was sent for analysis to an accredited third-party, confirming the “total suspended solids”, or volume of other debris materials (like soil, plant material, dust and other particulate material) within the flood water, was 58 mg/L.’

CEO of Abbot Point Operations, Mr Dwayne Freeman, said the flood water was not ‘coal-laden sludge’.

‘This is a very minor elevation in total suspended solids, following an extraordinary weather event that caused flooding and damage to much of North Queensland including many homes, businesses, and farms,’ said Mr Freeman said.

‘These preliminary test results are a testament to the infrastructure upgrade program and the tireless work of our dedicated employees. We are confident there will be no environmental impacts to the wetlands area, despite this unprecedented weather event.’

Mr Freeman said that Abbot Point Operations is working closely with officials from the Queensland Government’s Department of Environment and Science in relation to the flood waters entering the wetlands.

‘Once we found the flood waters had moved across the site and into the wetlands, we notified the Department of Environment and Science,’ said Mr Freeman. ‘We have had Department officials onsite last Friday who undertook their own inspections and monitoring.’

Due to the extreme weather, operations were suspended at Abbot Point Terminal last week. ‘The rain has finally started to subside and conditions at the terminal have improved over the weekend, so we’re currently implementing our recovery plan to return to standard operations this week.’

AMCS slams Adani for breach

The Australian Marine Conservation Society has slammed Adani for the breach.

AMCS Reef campaign manager, Dr Lissa Schindler, says that this second breach in only two years shows Adani has again failed to comply with its legal obligations to protect the environment. ‘The Queensland government should move to prosecute them again,’ she said.

‘Adani is a company that has shown that it cannot be trusted with our precious Reef.

‘Instead of running an advertising blitz to pressure the Queensland government into approving its reef-wrecking project, Adani should have been ensuring its Port was able to cope with Queensland’s extreme weather events.

‘Adani has a terrible environmental record in India, including a major coal spill into the marine environment near Mumbai that it failed to clean up for more than five years. It has polluted beaches and destroyed mangroves.

‘Now in Australia, it has exceeded pollution limits into the surrounding fragile Reef waters and wetlands twice in two years at its coal port in Abbot Point.

‘Our Great Barrier Reef is a global treasure spanning an area the size of Italy. It is one of the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems which generates over 64,000 jobs, but it is in grave danger due to climate change, which is mainly driven by mining and burning coal.

‘Our choice is clear. We can give our Reef a fighting chance and treat it with the World Heritage treasure that it is, or we can let mining giants like Adani continue to wreak havoc on its very future.’

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