3rd coal mine dam fails. Three strikes and you’re out?

MEDIA RELEASE – 18 January 2016

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today said news that the Environmental Protection Authority was investigating a third Hunter coal mine dam failure, at Bengalla coal mine near Musswellbrook, demonstrated there was a significant and systemic problem with the coal industry failing to implement adequate standards, resulting in serious pollution incidents.

Since the year began, Wambo, Warkworth and Bengalla coal mines in the Hunter Valley have had dam failures resulting in millions of litres of sediment-laden water polluting the environment.  In the second half of 2015, Clarence and Russell Vale coal mines also had dam failures and resulting in significant pollution of waterways.

“As the coal industry heads for the exit door, they are cutting costs and trashing the environment almost with impunity,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“Three coal mine dam failures in the Hunter, in addition to two major spills at other coal mines in the last six months indicates there is a systemic problem with the environmental standards being applied by the industry.

“Premier Baird needs to wake up and stop ignoring the reality that coal is in terminal decline, and his government needs to act to protect the environment and the community.

“Where is the strategy that recognises the direction of the energy market is away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy?  Where is the transition plan to assist workers and to provide an alternative basis regional economies?  Where is the plan to ensure these companies rehabilitate the landscape to an adequate standard and protect the environment?

“Without strong regulations and independent monitoring to prevent pollution incidents, the decline of the coal industry represents a toxic threat to the environment and community.”

Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916

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