Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Environment groups welcome EPA’s Prosecution of Clarence Colliery

Conservation groups today welcomed the Environment Protection Authority's top level prosecution of Centennial Coal for its coal fines pollution of the Wollangambe River near Lithgow. (See EPA release)

The Wollangambe is the most popular canyoning river in NSW and flows through the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.

“Centennial Coal can’t keep out of court,” Keith Muir director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness said. “This company is a serial polluter and environmental abuser of the wonderful Gardens of Stone region. 

“Yesterday Centennial was in court for its Springvale mine allegedly polluting the Coxs River, today proceedings commence for a massive pollution event at its Clarence Colliery on the Wollangambe River.

“The Clarence Colliery allowed a massive spill of coal fines into the Wollangambe River in fine weather on July 2, 2015.  The mess in the river is disgusting and covered over 8 kilometres inside the World Heritage listed Blue Mountains National Park,

“Conservation and bushwalking groups have called for prosecution regarding this major spill of coal fines into the Wollangambe River since July last year. 

“They have mapped the spill and collecting samples and reported their findings to the EPA. In particular, Alex Allchin, Vice President of Bushwalkers NSW, has systematically recorded the accumulations of the coal fines in the river enabling targeted removal of these deposits.”

Toxic mine waste discharges to the World Heritage Area must stop

“For decades Centennial Coal has been dumping millions of litres of mine water effluent into the Wollangambe River from its Clarence Colliery,” NSW Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski said

“Independent university research has revealed the impact these discharges are having on the once pristine river. [1] The Office of Environment and Heritage has confirmed damage identified by the university was caused by the mine effluent. [2]

“The Wollangambe is dead for 15 kilometres downstream of the discharge point compared to unaffected tributaries or the river upstream from the coal mine.

Most macro-invertebrates were gone, salinity was up, temperature was up and there were 'potentially lethal' levels of heavy metals such as Nickel.  We call for the complete removal of this massive discharge as well as the coal fines”,

References

EPA commences Tier 1 prosecution against Clarence Colliery

[1] Belmer et. al. - impact of coal mine on water quality and acquatic ecosystems

[2] Krogh M., Edge K. and Miller J., 2015, Clarence Colliery Discharge Investigation, Office of Environment and Heritage, Sydney, www.epa.nsw.gov.au/licensing/clarence-colliery.htm 

For more information contact:
Keith Muir: (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (mob)
Kate Smolski: 0419 272 254