Protecting Wilderness and National Parks

Springvale mine pollution to continue - pollution law worthless

Conservationists are disappointed in the decision today by the Land and Environment Court that will allow continued discharge of mine water into Sydney’s drinking water supplies. 

4nature has failed to overturn the Planning Assessment Commission decision that allows Centennial Coal to discharge of polluted water from the Springvale mine to the Coxs River.  The Coxs River is part of Sydney’s drinking water supply, and this continued pollution makes the state’s planning policy on drinking water* not worth the paper its written on,” said Keith Muir, director of the Colong Foundation for Wilderness.

“In September 2015, the Planning Assessment Commission approved mine water discharges into the Coxs River as part of the Springvale mine extension.  The toxic mine water flows through the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area and then into Sydney's main water supply, Lake Burragorang.  Sydney’s tap water will now remain polluted with Springvale mine water, that has been estimated to increase the salinity of drinking water in Lake Burragorang by 5 percentage points#” he said. 

“The Colong Foundation will continue to push for Centennial Coal to send its mine water to the Mt Piper Power Plant, and the NSW Government must require the joint Centennial/EnergyAustralia proposal to proceed regardless of this decision.  We are currently investigating the most effective ways to remove all mine water from the Coxs and Wollangambe Rivers”, Mr Muir said.

“We also now know that much of Springvale’s mine water pollution comes from damage to the swamps and streams of Newnes Plateau when its mining intersects with faults lines that extend from the coal seam to the surface.  This unprecedented revelation of this kind of coal mining damage to surface water resources has only just come to light.  Yesterday the Colong Foundation called on Environment Ministers Frydenburg and Stokes to stop the damage to swamps and streams caused by longwall mining in the Gardens of Stone region,” said Mr Muir.

Link to Judgement by Justice Pepper

For more information contact:
Keith Muir, (02) 9261 2400 (wk) or 0412 791 404 (mob)
4nature: Andrew Cox, President on 0438 588 040

* State Environmental Planning Policy (Sydney Drinking Water Catchment) 2011 requires developments to have a neutral or beneficial effect on Sydney’s drinking water catchments.

# The Springvale mine expansion will add 5,000 t/yr salt to the Coxs River (GHD, Appendix D of Appendix F Water and Salt Balance Assessment, pg ii, 2014 EIS) and increase salinity in Lake Burragorang by at least 5% (Dept of Planning & Envt April 2015, Springvale Mine Extn. Environmental Assessment Rpt, Pg 41)