Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Southern Coalfield Inquiry will be a Whitewash – fails to address threats to our drinking water supplies

“The damage caused to our drinking water catchments by underground coal mining will not be properly examined or prevented by the Inquiry announced today. I call on the Minister for Planning, Frank Sartor, to revise the terms of reference to make the threats posed to our drinking water catchments the key issue,” said Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“The damage caused by underground coal mining to our drinking water supplies is not something you can balance against ‘the social and economic significance to the region’ as the terms of reference for his Inquiry sets out to do”, he said. 

“It is not a choice between closing down the coal industry and conservation. There is only one decision to be made; and that is how best to preserve the Specially Protected drinking water catchments from the spoiling effects of coal mining. The Government must act to ensure that the pristine waters of our drinking water catchments will flow unabated and unpolluted forever,” he said.

“Calling a so-called independent of Inquiry without any real legal teeth will not defuse this potentially explosive issue. Drinking water catchments are not even specified in the terms of reference to the Inquiry,” Mr Muir said.

Mr Muir believes that the "Inquiry will be a total whitewash without powers to cross examine experts; or funding for those who seek to protect our pristine drinking water supplies; or even any powers to discover those controversial documents locked away in departmental offices,” Mr Muir warned.

“I can only assume that Minister Sartor has not been fully informed on the extent to which the drinking water supplies for Sydney and Wollongong are at risk from longwall coal mining operations. We need an Inquiry that will reveal the damage longwall coal mining is causing in our specially protected drinking water catchments. The issue is still a secret, but not for much longer”, Mr Muir said.

For more information contact: Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 9550 3615 (ah)