Suburbs in revolt as mining exploration hits city limits

Kim Martin from the Southern Highlands Coal Action Group is featured on Page 1 of the Australian today.

The article is interesting in that it is very wide ranging, (not just the Southern Highlands) for much of the previous discussion has been about Toowoomba, where a mine was stopped which had proposed going right up to the edge of the town. The article actually refers to both coal and CSG mining, in Qld, NSW Southern Highlands and also gas mining in St Peters (inner city Sydney),

The point we are trying to make is that we are all in this together. Coal mining and CSG are equally damaging to our most precious resource – water.

That came out clearly at the meeting at Helensburgh two nights ago – when the Catchment Austhority Chief Executive, Michael Bullen spoke (amongst many others). Previously the SCA has been perceived as “the enemy” down there, but they are not. They are caught in a bind, by the Dept of Planning. He spoke very well, and was well received. At least we know they are genuinely concerned about the possible impact from Gas mining in or under or beside the Catchment. Especially from possible contamination of the catchment lands from “produced water”. As Jess Moore pointed out – there are contaminants (radioactive traces, and endocrine disruptors) which are not able to be removed by reverse osmosis treatment.

Water is the common thread through all these “cases” – lose the water or have it contaminated, and we are all ruined.

The profits of a few are a threat to our “common wealth” (not just monetary, but in the old fashioned meaning of the term – our general wellbeing).

Denis Wilson
Australian Water Campaigners

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Thirlmere Lakes dry-up worsens

The deepest of the five world heritage-listed Thirlmere Lakes has dried up. As reported in the Macarthur Chronicle:

False teeth grimace as World Heritage-listed Thirlmere Lakes system dries up
False teeth recovery a red flag for ancient lake system

This is scary stuff – after years of rainfall, the lakes are only getting drier. The mining companies in the area continue to deny that longwall mining has cracked the lake bed.

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Take action to save Pilliga Scrub

Eastern Star Gas, headed by former Nationals Leader John Anderson, has plans to develop a massive coal seam gas field of around 550 gas wells in the State Forests of The Pilliga.

Commonly referred to as the ‘Pilliga Scrub’, this unique area near Narrabri is the largest remaining temperate woodland in NSW. It contains many threatened animal and plant species such as the Pilliga Mouse, Black-striped Wallaby and South-eastern Long-eared Bat.

This is the single biggest challenge to the NSW environment currently on the agenda. The gas project is set to clear over 2,400 hectares of native vegetation and will forever change the landscape of the Pilliga.

The Pilliga State Forest is a really important habitat. It is also an important recharge area for the Great Artesian Basin. So it is not just the bores which pose a problem (for the environment), but also the huge length of pipelines associated with this proposal and the pipeline down to Wellington (where a new gas turbine power station is planned) as well as a pipeline to Newcastle (for export purposes).

Normally Coal Seam Gas developments are solely within the realm of the State Government. The Pilliga/Narrabri proposal is different. The proposal has been classified a controlled document under the Federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act (EPB&A).

This means that a single federal minister will make a decision on how the project is to be assessed by 1 June.  We have until then to convince him to reject the proposal outright.

Please write to Tony Burke and encourage all of your friends to do so – We have a unique opportunity to shut down a whole coal seam gas field and to set a precedent on protecting our water, our land, our bush…

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Rally to save Gardens of Stone

Gardens_of_Stone_Rally_1_-_web120 people from numerous environmental and heritage groups assembled at a remote location on Gardiners Gap Fire Trail, in the Blue Mountains, to declare that the Gardens of Stone deserve to be protected from coal Mining.

The main organisations represented in this rally included the Nature Conservation Council, the Blue Mountains Conservation Society, the Colong Foundation for Wilderness, Rivers SOS, and The Wilderness Society. There were many members of other groups
also present, including the National Parks Association (NSW), Australian Water Campaigners, The National Trust of Australia (NSW), and the Australian Plants Society (NSW).

Several members of the Southern Highlands Photographic Society came along for the opportunity to support this event, as well as to photograph the unique landscape.

We were all there to draw attention to this unique piece of landscape and national heritage. We can but hope that the Rally might help provoke Government into acting to protect the Gardens of Stone from Coal Mining.

I have posted a number of photos from the Rally on my Blog.

It was a great event, and we hope that it does in fact get the public attention (and protection) that this remarkable area deserves. It ought be incorporated into the Blue Mountains National Park.

Denis Wilson
“The Nature of Robertson”

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Public forum on coal seam gas

You’re invited to a public forum on the environmental implications of coal seam gas and coal mining in NSW.

Coal seam gas is hailed as the energy source with a smaller carbon footprint than coal. However CSG mining proposed for the Liverpool Plains, Hunter Valley, St Peters, Warragamba Dam catchment could cause considerable environmental damage and loss of prime agricultural lands. This public forum will be chaired by Phillip Adams and opened by Jack Mundey. The panel of speakers include Assoc Prof Stephen Cattle, Univ Sydney Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources – mining effects on soils and agriculture, Dr John Williams, NSW Natural Resources Commissioner and Wentworth Group of Scientists on water resources, Assoc Prof Ruth Colagiuri, Univ Sydney Medical School – health issues, Tim Duddy, Caroona Coal Action Group, Kirsty Ruddock, Environmental Defenders’ Office, Government and Industry representatives. RSVP to

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Help us protect the Gardens of Stone!

Discovery event and campaign action Sat 14th May, 2011

The Gardens of Stone is named because of its spectacular rock formations. Over 1088 hectares of public forest within this uniquely scenic and biodiverse area are now at risk of exclusive occupation and destruction by open cut coal mining.

Join supporters at 1.00pm on Saturday 14th May 2011 for a great campaign banner action, photo and discovery event to help protect the Gardens of Stone, in the western Blue Mountains, NSW.

We guarantee you haven’t seen such a wonderful landscape in NSW as the Gardens’ sandstone turrets known as ‘pagodas’. These formations provide a safe haven for the nests of our iconic Lyrebird and the forests below provide food for Lyrebird chicks.

Event location: Gardiners Gap Trail, Ben Bullen State Forest, NSW.

This event will be conveying public transport users to the site free of charge.

For more info and maps see the Blue Mountains Conservation Society website.

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Mining law in NSW

From the EDO:

The Environmental Defender’s Office (EDO) would like to invite you to a FREE environmental law workshop. The workshop will provide an overview of some of the key laws governing mining in NSW, the planning and environmental law framework in which decisions are made, public participation in this process, and other useful information to help you respond effectively to mining proposals and negotiate access agreements.

Where: Mudgee Club, 5 Lovejoy Street, Mudgee

When: 25 May 2011, 1:00pm to 5:00pm

RSVP: email or call 02 9262 6989

Lunch and light refreshments will be provided

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National Parks relies on bad science to deny Thirlmere Lakes mining damage

The National Parks and Wildlife Service has, in a letter to the Nature Conservation Council, denied that mining has contributed to the draining of Thirlmere Lakes.

Sally Barnes, head of the NPWS, referred to the National Office of Water report that found “the most likely
cause of water level decline in Thirlmere Lakes is the prevailing climatic conditions”, and that photographs taken by NPWS rangers “suggest that the lakes levels have risen noticeably with rainfall in the last six months.”

Caroline Graham, Vice President of Rivers SOS, has responded to this position:

I work with the Rivers SOS Alliance, campaigning to protect river systems from mine damage. Some of us live near the Thirlmere Lakes and have witnessed the desiccation of the lakes with alarm, along with many other locals. This loss of water in the lakes began after mining took place in the late ’90s – 2000.
But drought has instead been blamed in the DECCW report, which you are relying on here. However according to information available at the Warragamba Dam Information Centre, the drought in the Warragamba catchment, where the lakes are situated, was over in 2008. Continue reading

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Wendy Bowman speaks about mining and dairy farming

Here is a short video of the patron of the Rivers SOS Alliance, Wendy Bowman. She was recently invited to Toowoomba to speak to the Friends of Felton group about her heartbreaking experiences with mining companies in the family dairy in the Hunter. She has kept up the fight ever since. She has lost a heritage family home and then found that the cottage she re-located to also came under threat, but she refuses to sell out and so is a constant thorn in the industry’s side.

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Bubbling, orange water makes your blood boil

Sydney Morning Herald
March 10th, 2011

Residents of southern Sydney who drink water from the Woronora Dam deserve to be invited into its catchment to see their precious water running bright orange with iron oxide and bubbling with methane (”Catchment gas leak as coalmine cracks”, March 9).

That is the result of operations of that global coalmining giant Peabody Energy.

Instead, people continue to be blindsided. If they dared show up in force and went past the locked gates that assist in hiding this damage they could be fined on the spot for trespassing.

The damage to the Woronora catchment is criminal, and yet it is legitimised by our state government. Don’t feel complacent if you drink water from somewhere else. There are damaging longwall coalmining operations in the catchments of the Cataract, Cordeaux, Nepean and Avon dams as well. All supply drinking water to the greater urban areas of Sydney and Wollongong.

Sharyn Cullis Oatley

Peabody’s glib response regarding mining impact to Waratah Rivulet cannot go unchallenged.

This rivulet supplies a third of the inflow to Woronora Dam which is the sole water supply for Sutherland Shire and Helensburgh.

The dam level was reported by the Herald in January to be at 33.5 per cent, which is 10 per cent lower than it was a year ago despite 1100 millimetres of rain falling in its catchment last year.

When one looks at the catastrophic mining impact that has occurred to the rivulet and its feeder swamp, blind Freddy can see that the flow to the dam storage from this stream must have been affected.

Peabody is still trying to fix damage that occurred six years ago. It is a joke for it to say it is only six months behind schedule. It will never be able to restore the integrity of the catchment with its very limited, unproven applications of polyurethane resin to isolated bars of rock.

Bubbling methane may be a ”a completely natural occurrence in the vicinity of coalmines”, but gas bubbling means the riverbed is cracked. This is utterly unacceptable in any river, but especially so in Sydney’s drinking water catchment ”special area”.

It seems our state government considers the areas not special enough to escape being degraded by coalmining.

Julie Sheppard Razorback

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