Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Minister Canavan and Department of Industry Innovation and science ready to spoil beautiful, sacred, and arable land – for nuclear trash

Goodes abuse mirrors SA nuclear fight, Eureka Street, Michele Madigan, 03 September 2019   On 21 August I came out of an Adelaide preview of The Australian Dream, Stan Grant’s documentary about the racialised mistreatment of the former AFL footballer Adam Goodes, for a brief interview on our local ABC’s Evening Show. The topic: the resumption of federal government visibility and determination to both deposit and dump nuclear waste in either the Flinders Ranges or Kimba regions.

Later I reflected on this synergy. One of these threatened areas was the location for The Australian Dream’s dramatic opening panoramic shot: Adam Goodes, a tiny figure in a vast landscape, with the Ranges of his ancestors in majestic background. …..
I wonder sometimes if this kind of vehement rage towards certain persons has parallels with the attitude and actions of some among us ‘latecomers’ to this country, to the country itself. It shows itself in a determination to exploit the country, to commodify it, to rape it of its resources; all done with entirely no regard for the consequences — on lands, on precious waters and eventually on all of us, the human race, who rely on creation for our survival.

There is at best exasperation, and at worst, genuine anger shown to many Australians seeking to defend country: to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander defenders certainly. In regard to non-Aboriginal people, the word ‘greenie’ has become largely a term of derision………

The Flinders became a place of healing refuge for Goodes. Yet the glory of its incredible antiquity has not been enough to shame the Minister and the Department for Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS) in the four-year journey of seriously considering this place of ancestry, beauty, earthquakes and floods as host to Australia’s nuclear waste which will remain dangerous for 10,000 years. Neither has being part of just six per cent of Australia’s arable lands served any protection for the international grain-farming region of Kimba as the alternative choice.
As Goodes paid heavily for his defence against racism, defending country continues to be a costly business for the people of the Flinders and Kimba regions whose communities are irrevocably torn apart by the National Radioactive Waste Management Facility project. Despite Barngala Traditional Owners appealing against Justice White’s 12 July decision that their native rights give them no right to vote, the Kimba Council has recently decided their opinion ballot is to go ahead anyway — from 3 October to 7 November. In contrast, the Flinders Ranges Council is requiring a risk assessment before proceeding with their ballot. The Adnyamathanha people’s appeal remains undecided.

On 13 August, DIIS, in meeting with the Barndioota Consultative Committee in the Flinders, confirmed that the size of the proposed site would now be 60 per cent larger. On 21 and 22 August Minister Canavan visited both areas for brief ‘consultative’ meetings, declaring the site decision is likely before the end of this year, and acknowledging that this may take place before the Flinders ballot. While again refusing to give a named acceptable percentage on such a ballot, Senator Canavan stressed the ballot was just one component in the decision making. Other evidence will include the 1000 submissions in this still open process.

On his 26 August Evening Show, Peter Goers interviewed an enthusiastic proponent — the Member for the vast federal seat of Grey. Rowan Ramsey was indignant that ‘outsiders’ were daring to protest the project. As well as ignoring his companion interviewee, local Greg Bannon, Ramsay revealed his misconception that other South Australians and indeed other Australians have no right to object. In claiming no knowledge of nuclear transport accidents, clearly he had not heard of the 1994 spill near Port Augusta, to name just one example; nor that transporting and simply ‘storing’ the spent fuel rods from the Lucas Heights reactor is exponentially more dangerous than Olympic Dam yellowcake transport……    https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article/goodes-abuse-mirrors-sa-nuclear-fight?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Eureka%20Street%20Daily%20-%20Wednesday%204%20September%202019&utm_content=Eureka%20Street%20Daily%20-%20Wednesday%204%20September%202019+CID_df4eff5733a50d6914ba873c7e09aea7&utm_source=Jescom%20Newsletters&utm_term=Goodes%20abuse%20mirrors%20SA%20nuclear%20fight
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September 5, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, Federal nuclear waste dump | Leave a comment

As forests disappear in the Amazon, Australia’s rainforests are being destroyed, too

August 27, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, environment | Leave a comment

Mirrarr people to lead the Kakadu region’s transition from uranium mining

Kirsten Blair, Community and International Liaison, 15 Aug 19,   Gundjeihmi Aboriginal CorporationToday GAC chairwoman, Toby’s Gangale’s daughter: Valerie Balmoore signed an MOU with the Federal and NT Governments as well as mining company ERA committing all parties to a Mirarr-led post-mining future for Jabiru.

There is still much work to be done on Mirarr country including cleaning up the immense Ranger uranium mine. GAC and others will continue our diligent work in this area – and there are no guarantees the cleanup will be wholly successful – but restoration of country remains the absolute objective.

Mirarr continue to assert their rights as Traditional Owners and lead the way for people and country, this Jabiru story is evidence of a massive shift. The power in these images speaks for itself. Today is deeply hopeful for the Kakadu region and offers an incredible message for all communities resisting unwanted mining projects.

August 15, 2019 Posted by | aboriginal issues, environment, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Australia’s one great river system – Murray-Darling Basin Plan ‘untenable’ – corrupt?

August 6, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, environment, politics | Leave a comment

South Australian Labor – too pro environment ?

August 3, 2019 Posted by | environment, politics, South Australia | Leave a comment

Rio Tinto moves to own Ranger remediation

Rio Tinto moves to own Ranger remediation, Matthew Stevens, Jul 26, 2019

https://www.afr.com/companies/mining/rio-tinto-moves-to-own-ranger-remediation-20190725-p52ape

In pushing Energy Resources Australia towards a potentially controversial capital raising Rio Tinto has moved to take greater ownership of what is arguably the most important mine retirement and clean-up in Australian resources history.

The task ahead is the required $830 million remediation of the Ranger uranium mine, which sits in a necessarily excised pocket of the United Nations World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park.

Ranger has been operated by Energy Resources Australia through its often controversial 40-year life. Through that time ERA has been majority owned by Rio Tinto or its Australian forebear, CRA. Currently Rio owns 68.4 per cent of ERA.

But a plan to fill the $400 million or so gap between what Ranger’s remediation is expected to cost and the cash that ERA has at hand to pay for the big clean-up could quite easily see Rio creep to a position that would see the mine operator fully absorbed by the mother ship.

ERA revealed extended discussion with Rio Tinto over how the funding gap would be filled has ended with its Anglo-Australia overseer insisting the only path was for Ranger’s operator to make a renounceable rights issue.

Rio Tinto has committed to take up its full entitlement and to underwrite the balance of any issuance if alternatives are not available.

The erstwhile uranium miner told its minority owners that it is “considering the size, structure and terms” of any potential rights issue “having regard to the interests of ERA as a whole”.

While that is an appropriate expression of independence, the most unlikely outcome here would be an ERA board populated by Rio Tinto appointees will end up doing anything that does not concur with the parent’s view of the company’s future.

The minority question

The most likely question ahead, then, for minority shareholders is going to be whether or not they double-down on a failed punt and back the rights issue needed to sustain the long, costly wind-up of their business?

Whatever the size, structure and terms of the raising Rio Tinto wants ERA to make, it will be material to the minority owners. ERA’s current market capitalisation is $130 million. So tapping the market for even half the shortfall could prove definitively dilutive for those unprepared to throw funds at a business destined to disappear.

In most circumstances this course might be cause to wonder at whether or not this pathway might represent a level of minority shareholder oppression. Rio Tinto’s pitch though is the exception to the rule.

ERA stopped being a miner five years ago and hopes its future might be extended were dashed a few years later when Rio Tinto found itself unable to support the Ranger 3 underground expansion, a conclusion we revealed first in April 2015.

Presently ERA’s only recourse to income is through processing uranium from stockpiled ore. That production will end in 2021 and ERA has a legal obligation to safely close the operation by 2026. The cost of remediation will endure at least half a decade beyond that and so too will the risk to reputation and social licence of any and all shortcomings of that effort.

Quite sensibly, Rio Tinto assesses it fully owns the risk of any failure or future non-compliance. It is regularly reminded of that inescapable reality by the anti-uranium activists, by the increasingly power ESG lobby and by governments state and federal.

RELATED: Rio Tinto worried about ERA’s Ranger uranium mine

The funding proposal sketched out on Thursday announces those warnings were unnecessary. Rio Tinto really does want to own Ranger’s remediation.

July 27, 2019 Posted by | environment, Northern Territory, uranium | Leave a comment

Acute water shortage in rural Australia, as drought persists

Country towns close to reaching ‘day zero’, as water supplies dry up in the drought, ABC News, By National Regional Affairs reporter Lucy Barbour 14 July 19, Across New South Wales and Queensland’s southern downs, country towns are approaching their own ‘day zero’, as water supplies dry up in the drought.

July 15, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, environment | Leave a comment

Huge volumes of water gulped by Olympic Dam uranium mine – even more with expanded mine

The nuclear cycle of destruction, Red Flag, James Plested, 12 July 2019  “……..The first stage of the cycle – the mining of uranium, the fuel used in nuclear power stations – is particularly relevant to Australia, home to an estimated 31 percent of the world’s known uranium reserves.

Uranium mining requires huge volumes of water – an obvious problem in arid Australia – and produces large quantities of toxic “tailings” which threaten the surrounding environment and people.

The historical record speaks for itself. According to the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, over the 38 years of operation of the Northern Territory’s Ranger mine, there have been around 200 leaks, spills or other breaches of the mine’s operating licence. In 2013, the collapse of a leach tank resulted in a spill of about 1 million litres of radioactive waste over the mine site.

Beyond the risk of accidents, there are many other downsides to nuclear power. One particularly relevant factor for Australia is that nuclear reactors require massive amounts of water. A typical US reactor, for example, consumes 114 million litres of water an hour. To put this in perspective, total residential water consumption in Melbourne, a city of 4.8 million people, in 2018 was around 32 million litres an hour.

Australian business heads and governments have long had an eye on further uranium mines. The anti-nuclear movements of the 1970s and early 1980s, as well as the later campaign against the proposed Jabiluka uranium mine (see article in this issue), kept this aspiration in check. In recent years, however, state and federal governments have renewed the push.

The South Australian government is supporting a proposal by BHP to expand massively the operations of its existing Olympic Dam mine – which contains the largest single uranium deposit in the world. And the day before the last election was called, the federal government abruptly announced its approval of a new uranium mine in Western Australia…….

The need for water means that reactors must be located close to rivers, lakes, dams or the ocean. In Australia, this would inevitably mean reactors would need to be built in or near densely populated areas…..” ……  https://redflag.org.au/node/6835

July 13, 2019 Posted by | environment, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Hasty, secretive federal approval of Yeelirriee uranium project shows contempt for the scientific environmental evidence

New light on WA uranium mine approval sparks call to put environment before economics,  WA Today. By Cameron Myles, July 10, 2019 — New light shed on the “clandestine” approval of a uranium mine in Western Australia’s outback has sparked calls to beef up the country’s environmental laws, amid concerns the minister responsible prioritised the economy over the environment.Then-environment minister Melissa Price signed off on Cameco’s Yeelirrie project near Wiluna on April 10 this year, the day before the federal government called the May 18 election.

News of the project’s approval did not emerge until around Anzac Day later that month, with no releases announcing the minister’s decision, prompting Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney’s call that it was a “clandestine approval under the cover of a national election”.

Yeelirrie, which sits within the boundaries of Ms Price’s vast federal electorate of Durack, had a long history of resistance.

It was previously rejected by the WA Environmental Protection Authority which flagged, among others, concerns about the project’s impact on 12 species living underground and in the water table.

Some species were only found in the area covered by the project and there were fears they could go extinct as the miner dug through groundwater to get to the uranium below.

It was later approved at a state level by the then-Barnett government, and several options on how to proceed were presented to Ms Price by the federal Department of the Environment and Energy on April 5 this year.

But the release last week of a statement of reasons from Ms Price – secured by the ACF – has revealed she signed off on the project with a less stringent set of environmental conditions than those recommended by the department, noting that if she attached the more onerous conditions “there is a real chance that the project could not go ahead”.

“I was satisfied that if the project did not go ahead and the social and economic benefits would not be realised, this would have an adverse effect on the region and the State as a whole,” Ms Price wrote.

The Wilderness Society WA state director Kit Sainsbury said the revelation meant the minister put economic and social conditions ahead of what should be her primary consideration – the environment.

“To see both at the state and federal level such contempt for the scientific evidence suggesting that this project is environmentally unsustainable – yet receiving approval – is galling and highly contentious,” he said.

“As the Yeelirrie decision proves, too often decisions affecting the environment are made behind closed doors … a national body with teeth can stand up for the communities which need it and their country they honour.”……….

Tjiwarl native title holders and conservationists are also appealing a Supreme Court decision against their challenge to the WA government’s approval of Yeelirrie, which Ms Price had previously told media she would wait for the outcome of before signing off on the approval. …….. https://www.watoday.com.au/national/western-australia/new-light-on-wa-uranium-mine-approval-sparks-call-to-put-environment-before-economics-20190709-p525mx.html

July 13, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics, uranium, Western Australia | Leave a comment

BIRDS VS BHP: Evaporation ponds at BHP’s Olympic Dam mine are killing hundreds of birds

BIRDS VS BHP: Evaporation ponds at BHP’s Olympic Dam mine are killing hundreds of birds

Hundreds of birds are dying each year after mistaking Olympic Dam’s evaporation ponds for wetlands. Environment campaigners want the miner to stop using them. Clare Peddie, Science Reporter, The Advertiser, July 10, 2019   

Conservationists want BHP to stop using evaporation ponds at Olympic Dam that kill hundreds of birds, including threatened species.

They want BHP to cancel plans for a new pond and phase out 146ha of existing ponds, which are used for the disposal of acidic waste water………

Scientist and environment campaigner David Noonan says it’s shocking that birds are drowned, choked or scalded by BHP’s highly acidic, toxic wastewater.

“They see this as a wetland in an arid region as they’re travelling through,” he said. “They’re typically poisoned by contact, they die on site or they’re poisoned and die later.”

BHP found 224 dead birds during weekly monitoring in the 2017-18 financial year and that included 39 banded stilts, a vulnerable species in SA.  The number of dead birds found annually has hardly changed since 2011-12, when the banded stilt, red-necked avocet, whiskered tern, grey teal, black swan, hoary-headed grebe, …..

Plans for a huge open cut mine that were shelved in 2012 would have required a phase-out of evaporation ponds, but BHP says that condition is no longer relevant or applicable to current growth and expansion of the underground mine.

BHP is preparing to make a submission to both state and federal governments for a sixth evaporation pond.

A separate submission on a the new tailings storage facility – about the size of the Adelaide CBD and ten storeys high – has already been made, triggering an Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act referral, as in the case of the endangered bird in the path of the interconnector.  https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/evaporation-ponds-at-bhps-olympic-dam-mine-are-killing-hundreds-of-birds/news-story/1b886e4946f87fb7a729e201282f5cfb

July 13, 2019 Posted by | environment, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Uranium contamination in groundwater in an Adelaide suburb

July 8, 2019 Posted by | environment, South Australia, uranium | Leave a comment

Former Environment Minister rejected department advice and approved uranium mine day before election called

Melissa Price approved uranium mine knowing it could lead to extinction of 12 species  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/04/melissa-price-approved-uranium-mine-knowing-it-could-lead-to-extinction-of-12-species?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other  Former environment minister rejected department advice and approved Yeelirrie mine day before election called. Lisa Cox,  4 Jul 2019  The former environment minister Melissa Price acknowledged that approval of a uranium mine in Western Australia could lead to the extinction of up to 12 native species but went ahead with the decision anyway.

The admission is contained in a statement of reasons signed by the minister before she approved the Yeelirrie uranium mine, 500km north of Kalgoorlie, the day before the federal election was called in April.

The document also shows the environment and energy department recommended conditions that would require the developer, Cameco, to ensure the project would not result in the extinction of up to 11 stygofauna, which are tiny groundwater species.

But Price instead adopted a weaker set of conditions aimed at reducing the risk to groundwater species but which the department said contained “significant uncertainties” as to whether or not they would be successful.

Price acknowledged the department had recommended tougher conditions but said in the statement that if they were imposed there was “a real chance that the project would not go ahead”.

“In making this recommendation, the department considered only the environmental outcomes, and did not weigh the environmental risks against the social and economic benefits of the project,” she said.

“Rather, as the department’s briefing noted, this balancing exercise was for me to do”.

Price wrote that she “accepted that there was a risk” that species could be lost but that the department’s advice was this was not “inevitable” if the project went ahead.

The statement of reasons also notes that the project could lead to the wipeout of the entire western population of a species of saltbush, known as the Atriplex yeelirrie.

The saltbush has just two distinct populations, the western and eastern population, both of which are found on Yeelirrie station.

The statement of reasons says the western population occurs entirely within the proposed area for the mine and there is a risk the development would clear all of it.

The Australian Conservation Foundation, which requested Price’s statement of reasons, described the document as “an extraordinary piece of decision making”.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics, uranium | Leave a comment

Silly talk from Sussan Ley, Australia’s new Minister Against the Environment

She babbles on. You have to pause and try to figure out what she really means – the underlying messages. As Minister she wants “greater focus on INDIVIDUAL action” rather than government action. “I do want my approach to the portfolio to be about what YOU can do”. Wants ” approval times for major projects cut”. She doubts that ” land clearing is responsible for species loss”. Wants to simplify the EPBC Act, (too much green tape). She is “open to the review considering a removal of the nuclear ban”

Really, we were better off with Melissa Price. She was a straight out no nonsense advocate for coal. She was well informed in her subject (coal) , and we all knew where she stood. I forgot to mention this. I heard Sussan Ley on ABC radio, saying that on the subject of species extinctions in Australia “she knew better than the UN researchers, because she had lived in rural Australia” She said that “the UN had got it wrong”

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Environment Minister floats ‘lending’ Murray Darling environmental water to farmers, Brisbane Times, By Nicole Hasham, June 15, 2019  New Environment Minister Sussan Ley says farmers in the Murray Darling Basin should be allowed to “borrow” water reserved for maintaining the river’s health, and federal approval for major developments must be streamlined to “give proponents more assurances” and reduce delays.

In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Ms Ley also identified invasive starfish as the “most imminent” threat to the Great Barrier Reef as she flagged potential changes to the way Australia’s natural assets are managed.

The Liberal MP was returned with a 7 per cent swing against her in the rural NSW seat of Farrer, where concern about water allocations to farmers featured heavily in the federal election campaign.

Ms Ley’s new portfolio captures the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, which manages the majority of water for the environment recovered under the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

She cited the need for “flexibility” to allow water storages intended for environmental use to be “borrowed” by struggling farmers.

Sometimes the environment doesn’t need all its water but farmers desperately do need water,” she said……

The Australia Institute senior water researcher Maryanne Slatterya former director at the Murray-Darling Basin Authority, described Ms Ley’s depiction of the problem as “not very accurate”…….

Ms Ley re-entered the Coalition government’s cabinet last month, after a 2017 expenses scandalforced her resignation from the front bench.

The environment portfolio includes protection of the Great Barrier Reef, which is under grave threat from climate change.

Ms Ley initially nominated the crown-of-thorns starfish, a pest that preys on live coral, as “the biggest, most imminent threat” to the reef…….

The federal government’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority says climate change “is the greatest threat to the Great Barrier Reef and coral reefs worldwide”.  …..

Australia’s key piece of environment legislation, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, is due to be reviewed this year.

Ms Ley said it provided “real opportunity to remove some of the green tape around environmental approvals”…..

Australian Conservation Foundation nature campaign manager Basha Stasak said talk about cutting green tape was “code for making it easier for the loggers to cut down our forests, the diggers to rip up endangered animal habitat and corporate irrigators to suck more water out of our rivers”. https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/federal/environment-minister-floats-lending-murray-darling-environmental-water-to-farmers-20190614-p51xsf.html

June 15, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Pick out the anti-environment statements in Sussan Ley’s spiel!

Sussan Ley: I’ll be an environmentalist as minister, Guardian    14 June 19,
Sussan Ley MP says she’s prepared to fight for her portfolio – and a priority will be cutting ‘green tape’ for big projects
The new environment minister, Sussan Ley, has declared herself an “environmentalist”, saying she is prepared to fight for the environment around the cabinet table even when colleagues disagree with her.

Ley, who welcomed the Queensland government’s decision on Thursday to give the green light to the Adani coalmine, told Guardian Australia she wanted to see more action on recycling, threatened species and biodiversity protection, and a greater focus on individual action to achieve a better environment.

But in the lead-up to a 10-yearly review of the country’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, Ley has also flagged that she wants approval times for major projects cut, has left the door open to lifting the country’s ban on nuclear power, and has questioned whether land clearing is responsible for species loss.

The former health minister, who was returned to cabinet by Scott Morrison after she quit over an expenses scandal in 2017, said she saw the role as an advocacy position……

Ley welcomed the review of the EPBC Act, due in the second half of this year, saying the country’s current environmental laws were “unnecessarily arduous, complex and not productive”.

….. Along with the approvals process, a clutch of Coalition MPs have indicated they will use the EPBC Act review to have Australia’s nuclear ban removed, a push that is being backed by the Minerals Council of Australia and industry groups.

Ley said the question of nuclear power in Australia was one “where you have to listen to all of the voices” but said she was open to the review considering a removal of the ban.

“To be honest, I am not strongly for or against nuclear power. I think there are good arguments for it, and there are good arguments against it.

From the perspective of the environment it is important that it is considered, so I am not going to lead that discussion at any point of the review process. Plenty of other people will.”

Ley also made clear her views on the threat to biodiversity after a UN report warned that a million species across the world faced extinction. The minister said she was “concerned” about the problem, but questioned whether land clearing was to blame.

The Australian Conservation Foundation has estimated that there has been a loss of more than 7.4m hectares of threatened species habitat since the EPBC Act was introduced in 1999, with Australia singled out for its high rates of deforestation.

“Biodiversity and … our level of loss of species is of great concern to me,” she said.

“I really believe that the biggest threat to our threatened species is probably feral cats. Loss of habitat isn’t just land clearing, if it is land clearing at all, loss of habitat is often the wrong type of vegetation and that is often introduced weeds……

I do want my approach to the portfolio to be about what you can do, whether it be reducing plastic waste, whether it be about joining a local volunteer group, whether it be about agitating for better weeds and pest management in national parks that are near you, where you live – these are practical things that people can do and they do make a difference.”

On climate change, Ley said she was “interested” in the emissions reduction task of government which is included with the energy portfolio, under Angus Taylor, rather than environment, and said she believed the Coalition’s climate solutions fund is “where we need to be”.

“I am not going to discuss the emissions policy, that is Angus Taylor’s to discuss,”……..

Having argued during the campaign for the compliance and operational parts of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority to be split, Ley also said she would use her new role to push for changes being demanded by irrigators……..perhaps we need to work harder on that balance between environmental water and agriculture.”  https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/jun/14/sussan-ley-ill-be-an-environmentalist-as-minister

June 15, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, environment, politics | Leave a comment

Adani’s flawed protections for groundwater: its Carmichael mine may dry up ancient desert springs

Scientists warn ancient desert springs may dry up under Adani plan, Brisbane Times, Nicole Hasham, June 9, 2019 A group of Australia’s pre-eminent water scientists say a rare desert oasis may dry up under Adani’s “flawed” protections for groundwater near its proposed Carmichael mine, in a scathing assessment days out from a crucial ruling on the plan.

Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science is this week due to decide on Adani’s groundwater management plan – one of the last remaining barriers to construction of the coal project.

Former federal environment minister Melissa Price granted approval for the highly contentious groundwater plan days out from the federal election campaign. This came despite CSIRO and Geoscience Australia raising concerns over the energy company’s modelling and proposed management……..

Mining activity such as drilling through aquifers can cause groundwater levels to fall, or “draw down”, and reduce water vital to the survival of connected ecosystems.

Seven leading experts from four Australian universities examined the latest groundwater plans and conducted on-site analysis at Doongmabulla Springs.

The team was led by Flinders University hydrogeology professor Adrian Werner, a former adviser to the Queensland government.

Their report concluded that the Carmichael project may cause the springs to stop flowing permanently, pushing the wetland to extinction.

It found Adani is likely to have underestimated future impacts on the springs – partly because the aquifer feeding the wetland had not been identified and Adani’s estimates did not consider possible water leakage between underground formations.

The void left behind at the end of the mine’s life would draw down water for many years, meaning the worst groundwater impacts would occur after the company left the site, they said.

The scientists rejected Adani’s so-called ‘adaptive management’ plan to mitigate risks to the wetland. The method – essentially a learning-by-doing approach – was unsuitable partly because of lag times between mining activity and the effect on the springs, they said.

Possible cumulative impacts to the wetland from other proposed coal projects have also not been properly considered, the report added.

Professor Werner said the research showed Adani’s water plan was “severely flawed” and risked the extinction of both the springs complex and the flora and fauna that depend on it.

“If we allow Adani to drain billions of litres of water with this groundwater plan then we are effectively playing Russian roulette with the very existence of a million-year-old ecosystem,” he said.

The report was presented to officials at the Department of Environment and Science on Wednesday. A department spokesman said it was awaiting advice from CSIRO on Adani’s groundwater plan before considering if any changes were required. The department’s decision is due on Thursday, June 13. …… https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/politics/federal/scientists-warn-ancient-desert-springs-may-dry-up-under-adani-plan-20190608-p51vqn.html

June 10, 2019 Posted by | climate change - global warming, environment, Queensland | Leave a comment