EPA’s paltry fine for Wollongong Coal spill no deterrent to future offenses

MEDIA RELEASE – 15 July  2016

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said that the EPA’s announcement today that Wollongong Coal would only face a token fine of $30,000 following the significant spill of coal from the Russell Vale coal mine into Bellambi Creek last December raises concerns about whether the EPA were serious about stopping multinational coal companies polluting waterways.

Wollongong Coal which owns and operates the Russel Vale Colliery is owned by Indian multinational Jindal Power and Steel.  Russell Vale is currently in ‘care and maintenance’ and it is understood that a dust suppression spray at the mine broke last December, causing a large amount of water to saturate a coal stockpile and causing the coal to spill into Bellambi Creek.

“This fine is a drop in the ocean for a multinational coal company which has annual revenues in excess of $200 Billion and will not act as a deterrent to further environmental destruction,” Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham said.

“Just last month I visited the Bellambi Creek and saw for myself that the water is still polluted by coal, six months after the spill last December.

“If the EPA is serious about stopping multinational coal companies polluting our precious waterways then they should instead commence court action against Wollongong Coal, as they have done with Centennial Coal after a similar incident at the Clarence Colliery polluted the Wollangambe River.

“I am very concerned that the ‘care and maintenance’ regime at the mine is inadequate and that a much stronger message needs to be sent to coal companies in NSW that pollution incidents from mothballed and closed mines are unacceptable.”

“If the operators of the mine, Wollongong Coal, are unable to prevent such a spill occurring, then they should certainly not be given approval to expand the mine or build coal washeries in the future.

“With the global coal market in structural decline, the standard of care and maintenance and rehabilitation of coal mines will become increasingly important,” Mr Buckingham said.

Video of Jeremy Buckingham at Bellambi Creek inspecting coal pollution: https://www.facebook.com/jeremybuckingham/videos/1211661628853023/

Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916

One comment

  • This is scandalous- happens all over the mining/gas sector, and now the Coal-ition is back in power nothing will be done. Closed mines eg Mt Lyell in Tasmania can and do leak acids and other toxins even a century later. The taxpayer pays, as do animals and humans in other ways nearby.

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