Concerns raised over Sydney Catchment audit

The audit of Sydney’s drinking water catchments, to which Rivers SOS recently made a submission, is mired in controversy after it was revealed the private contractor carrying out the audit has been employed by BHP to consult on its plans to mine underneath the catchment area.

Read the full story here.

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Media release on Sugarloaf disaster

Rivers SOS has published a media release regarding the recent discovery of massive subsidence damage caused by longwall coal mining. Here’s an excerpt:

Since 2006 Rivers SOS has been drawing attention to similar and even more serious damage in the Special Areas of Greater Sydney’s drinking water catchment. Here there are also cracked rivers and streams, contaminated water, cliff collapses and chasms in rocks. But this is even more of a disaster because of the impacts on Sydney’s water supply. Yet most of the Sydney media do not follow this story.

You can read the full media release here.

Here’s some media coverage:
Subsidence in the spotlight, Newcastle Herald, 1/9/13
Sugarloaf coalmine subsidence repair disaster, Newcastle Herald, 28/8/13
Mine subsidence devastates Sugarloaf conservation area, Sydney Morning Herald, 28/8/13

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Submission on Sydney Drinking Water Catchment Audit

Rivers SOS recently made a submission to GHD, a private company which has been tasked with carrying out the 2013 Catchment Audit. It includes the following recommendations:

  • A ban on all new mines, mine expansions and coal seam gas developments in the Special Areas of Sydney’s Catchment
  • Urgent legislation to empower Sydney Catchment Authority,  to allow mining/CSG bans in the Special Areas
  • National legislation and standards to be enacted

You can read the full submission here.

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Submission on Mining SEPP

Rivers SOS made a submission on the NSW Government’s proposed amendments to the State Environment Planning Policy, which would emphasise the economic importance of a resource over and above other factors when evaluating mining proposals. You can read the full submission here.

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Submission to the NSW Government’s planning system review

Rivers SOS has made a submission to the NSW Government’s review of the planning system. You can read the full submission here.

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Dendrobium mine approved

On Monday Feb. 11 the O’Farrell govt. approved the expansion of BHP’s Dendrobium coal mine in Sydney’s drinking water catchment Special Area.

This was despite overwhelming evidence of significant environmental damage from past mining and predictions of more catastrophic damage, especially to the upland swamps in the area.

All the reasons given for approval were economic. That’s how much the government cares about ensuring Sydney’s water security. Read the article in the SMH: Mine approved despite water catchment fears

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Submission on the BHP Dendrobium expansion

Rivers SOS has been concerned for some time with the impacts of longwall mining in the Special Areas of Sydney’s drinking water catchments. We have had delegations over the years to Planning Ministers Keneally and Kelly and also Shadow Planning Minister Hazzard to discuss these concerns.

We have also been involved in the development of the Aquifer Interference Policy (AIP), making a submission to the draft in May this year.

We view with alarm the SMP for Dendrobium Area 3B. We see this as yet another example of a mining proposal with predicted and expected impacts on river systems which are totally unacceptable to our organisation and, we believe, to the community in general.

Continue reading

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BHP seeks to discharge dirtier mine wastewater into Georges River

Rivers SOS has made a submission on BHP’s application to vary their licence to discharge mine wastewater into the Upper Georges River. You can read it here.
Thanks to Leonie Kelly, whose science background meant we were able to sensibly discuss the complex science involved.
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Media Release – 16.9.12

How our Water Supplies are being Sold Down the Drain

We concur with protests made by various groups about the Strategic Regional Land Use Policy and the Aquifer Interference Policy, released last Tuesday by the O’Farrell government.

The NSW Farmers’ Association is “bitterly disappointed.”

Not to be outdone, the NSW Irrigators’ Council is “profoundly disappointed.”

The Total Environment Centre says that “environmental protection has been reduced to lip service.”

And the CEO of CSG developer Metgasco says that this “sends a clear message that the NSW government is 100% behind the industry.” Indeed. Continue reading

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Increasing focus on health impacts of coal

There is increasing public attention being focused on the health impacts of coal mining. Rivers SOS has been arguing these cases for some time, but it is worth noting that so have many health organisations.

For example, Doctors for the Environment has been raising awareness about dust from coal mining, as well as particulate emissions from burning coal at power stations. As medical professionals, theirs is a significant contribution to the debate.

There has also been recent media attention regarding coal dust from train movements (SMH, 13/08). This has been covered extensively in the Hunter, and the Newcastle Herald is running a petition to have the coal wagons covered up.

There is also a great public meeting happening next week, organised by the Coal Terminal Action Group in Newcastle. This should draw further attention to the issue, in light of the proposed expansion of the Newcastle coal port. Details follow:

21 August 2012 – 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Come to a public meeting to discuss the proposed 4th coal terminal (T4).

When: 6pm, Tuesday August 21st
Where: Mayfield East Public School (Crebert St School Hall)

Is coal making you sick? Many Novocastrians believe our city’s massive coal terminals and the endless coal trains that feed them are making us sick. With coal corporations now seeking approval for a fourth coal terminal that would potentially double Newcastle coal exports, the community is demanding answers.

We invite you to a forum with local community groups to hear about “T4”, the proposed fourth coal terminal.

  • Why are Newcastle residents so concerned about the proposed coal terminal?
  • What air pollution are residents exposed to close to coal trains and coal terminals?
  • Why cover coal trains?
  • What are the health risks of living with coal and doubling coal exports through Newcastle?

We’ll also hear from visiting health experts Professor Peter Orris and Fiona Armstrong to learn about the health effects of living with coal and options to protect our community.

Guest speakers:
Professor Professor Orris is the Director of Occupation and Environmental Medicine at the University of Illinois in Chicago. He has served as advisor to WHO, PAHO, as well as Federal, State and Local Governments, environmental organisations, labor unions and corporations. He has written numerous articles, book chapters and governmental reports in the field of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and maintains an active clinical and teaching practice.

Fiona Armstrong is convenor of the Climate and Health Alliance, a coalition of health professionals that work together to raise awareness about the risks to health from ecological degradation and climate change and the benefits to health from climate action and environmental protection. Fiona has a background in health, journalism, public policy and advocacy.

To learn more about T4 and the Coal Terminal Action Group ‘like’ our Facebook page.

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