Tag Archives: Illawarra

Wollongong Coal spill sparks concerns about ‘care & maintenance’ regime

MEDIA RELEASE – 8 December  2015

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham today said that a significant spill of coal from the Russell Vale coal mine into Bellambi Creek raises concerns about whether the ‘care and maintenance’ regime at the mine is adequate and said that the proposed expansion of the mine should be rejected.

It is understood that a dust suppression spray at the mine broke over the weekend, causing a large amount of water to saturate a coal stockpile and causing the coal to spill into Bellambi Creek.

“This incident looks like something that could have been avoided if there was adequate oversight, but now we have coal polluting Bellambi Creek that will end up in the Lagoon at Bellambi Beach,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The community have expressed their concern to the EPA about the creeks running black during rain events and the failure to divert the creeks around the mine as required, but the response from the EPA has been very ineffective.

“The Greens questions whether the ‘care and maintenance’ regime at Russell Vale coal mine is adequate and the operators should face the full force of the law if they have failed to keep the environment safe from pollution through inadequate staffing or poor practice.

“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. The EPA must conduct a thorough investigation and publicise its findings to ensure pollution incidents from mothballed and closed mines do not occur.”

AGL should ditch Gloucester gas after recognising CSG unwanted, unviable

MEDIA RELEASE – 6 July 2015

The Greens NSW coal seam gas spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham has today said that AGL’s decision to ditch their controversial coal seam gas expansion plans for Sydney’s west and the Hunter Valley is a recognition that coal seam gas is unwanted and unviable, but their failure to also ditch their Gloucester gas project was a missed opportunity to repair their corporate reputation and was a decision that they would have to return to in the near future.

“This decision is recognition by AGL that coal seam gas is unwanted and unviable in the face of resolute community opposition and a growing renewable energy sector,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“The writing is on the wall for coal seam gas as communities around the country refuse to accept the risks to their land, water and the climate.

“This is a great victory for the communities that have been opposing coal seam gas and reflects well on the direction the new CEO Andy Vesey is taking with AGL.

“But it is also a missed opportunity for AGL to repair their battered corporate reputation by ditching their risky Gloucester gas plans.

“The community opposition to this crazy project will continue to grow and this latest announcement will only strengthen the people of Gloucester’s resolve not to be the only place in NSW destroyed by this toxic industry.

“The $193 million write down of this project is a recognition that coal seam gas in Gloucester doesn’t stack up and the Greens look forward to AGL packing their bags in the near future.

“The buy-back process should not be a cash cow for the gas industry and the Greens believe that AGL’s worthless licenses should be handed back without compensation,” Mr Buckingham said.

Contact: Jack Gough – 9230 2202 or 0427 713 101

 

Greens & community win on coal seam gas as Santos deadline passes

MEDIA RELEASE – 23 January 2015

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy today declared that the Greens, farmers and the community had won the debate over coal seam gas over the last four years saying the industry had been stopped in its tracks.  He cited Santos’ announcement yesterday that they would not proceed with the Narrabri coal seam gas project until the “back end of the decade”, as well as the expiry today of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the NSW Government and Santos to fast-track the Narrabri coal seam gas project.

In February 2014, the NSW Government signed an MOU with Santos declaring the Narrabri gas project a ‘Strategic Energy Project’. The MOU included a timeline in which Santos were due to lodge their Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on 30 June 2014, and the final planning determination was to be made today, 23 January 2015.  Santos have still not lodged their EIS and the final determination date has now passed.

“The Greens, farmers and the community have won the campaign against coal seam gas.  The community are informed and dead set against fracking, and the industry has either packed up and left NSW, or their projects are at standstill,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

“When the Coalition took office in March 2011, coal seam gas was set to roll out in the suburbs of Sydney and Sydney’s drinking water catchment, across the Hunter Valley, at Gloucester, throughout the Liverpool Plains and up to Moree, as well as in the Northern Rivers, Mid-North Coast, Newcastle,  and Southern Highlands.

“After four years campaigning the industry is now banned in urban areas, has been crushed by strident community opposition in the Northern Rivers, and even the giant Narrabri project has fallen over.

“Driving around many regions of NSW, yellow ‘No Gas’ triangles, Lock the Gate signs and ‘No Coal Seam Gas’ bumper stickers are everywhere.  In the last four years, the community uprising against coal seam gas has become the biggest environmental and social movement seen in NSW for decades.

“Santos’ Narrabri gas project appears dead. The MOU has expired, Santos have slashed their capital expenditure by hundreds of millions, and the project is on hold as they desperately try to sell down their stake in the project.

“The issue of coal seam gas is sure to be a big factor for many voters at the coming election, and the Greens are very proud of our track record on this issue,” he said.

Working hard to oppose coal seam gas in NSW Parliament

In direct relation to coal seam gas in the last term of parliament, Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham has given:

  • 73 speeches
  • 68 Questions on Notice
  • 74 questions without Notice
  • 260 questions in budget estimates
  • 39 Notices of Motion
  • 3 calls for papers (production of documents)
  • 4 Bills into Parliament:
  • Coal Seam Gas Moratorium Bill 2011
  • Responsible Mining (Protect Land, Water & Communities) Bill 2014
  • Central Coast Water Catchment Protection Bill 2014
  • Mining Legislation Amendment (Right of Landholders to Refuse Access) Bill 2013
  • Established the Legislative Council Inquiry into Coal Seam Gas
  • Established the ongoing Legislative Council Inquiry into gas supply and price

He has also:

  • Exposed spills, leaks and pollution incidents at CSG operations
  • Conducted a Frack Finding Tour of the USA
  • Toured Wyoming farmer John Fenton to Australia
  • Successfully campaigned for a ban of CSG in urban areas
  • Successfully campaigned to remove the royalty holiday for CSG
  • Stopped the passage of the Petroleum (Onshore) Amendment Bill 2013
  • Raised the issue of domestic gas supplies being diverted to export
  • Worked with NSW Farmers Association, Lock the Gate and other community groups
  • Stood with community members at blockades of drilling sites , including at Bentley, Gloucester, Narrabri and Fullerton Cove
  • Campaigned for greater the right of landholders to say no to exploration on their land
  • Produced and distributed hundreds of thousands of leaflets, stickers and other campaign materials
  • Visited all coal seam gas affected areas of NSW and other states

Contact: Max Phillips – 9230 2202 or 0419 444 916

CSG report card

Head of Trade and Investment confirms: No protection against CSG in Sydney water catchment

MEDIA RELEASE – 24 November 2014

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham has condemned the Baird Government for completely failing to protect Sydney’s drinking water catchments against coal seam gas exploration and prospecting, after the Director General of Trade and Investment, Mark Patterson, confirmed in Budget Estimates that there is currently no legislation to protect any of NSW’s drinking water catchments including the Special Areas of the Sydney catchment.

“The people of NSW now know that the Government’s commitment to ban CSG in drinking water catchments ‘No ifs, no buts, a guarantee’ was a lie,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

In a supplementary Budget Estimates hearing for the portfolio of Trade and Investment Mr Patterson admitted he was unaware of any legislation which prevents coal seam gas operations in the special areas of the Sydney water catchment or in any other drinking water catchment:

Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: I turn now to mining in water catchments. Is there any legislation that prevents coal seam gas exploration occurring in the special areas of the Sydney water catchment?

Mr PATERSON: Not that I am aware of.

Mr JEREMY BUCKINGHAM: Does any legislation prevent coal seam gas exploration occurring in New South Wales drinking water catchments?

Mr PATERSON: Not that I am aware of.

“The Government have had three years to introduce legislation to protect vital drinking catchments throughout the state but they have sat on their hands and have failed the people of NSW.

“Sydneysiders should be particularly concerned that the government refuses to rule out toxic coal seam gas development in the special areas of their drinking water catchment.

“By refusing to enshrine protections in legislation, the Baird Government is recklessly risking the safety and security of our drinking water supply,” said Mr Buckingham.

Contact: Jack Gough – 0427 713 101 or 9230 2202

Audio: Jeremy Buckingham discusses the Coalition Government’s failure to prevent CSG in Sydney’s drinking water catchment on ABC Illawarra – 6/11/14

Listen to Greens mining and coal seam gas spokesperson, Jeremy Buckingham talk about the Coalition Government’s failure to prevent CSG in Sydney’s drinking water catchment on ABC Illawarra – 6/11/14

Coalition votes for CSG in drinking water catchments

MEDIA RELEASE – 6 November 2014

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham has condemned the Baird Government for voting down a Greens amendment to the Water NSW Bill 2014 which would have banned coal seam gas exploration and prospecting in the Special Areas of Sydney’s Drinking water catchments.

“The people of NSW now know that the Government’s commitment to ban CSG in drinking water catchments ‘No ifs, no buts, a guarantee’ was a lie,” said Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham.

The Greens amendment would have specified that a petroleum title could not be granted or renewed in relation to land within a declared ‘special area’. Special areas are declared for either or both of the following purposes:

  1. protecting the quality of stored waters, whether intended for use for drinking or other purposes,
  2. maintaining the ecological integrity of an area of land to be declared to be a special area in a manner that is consistent with Water NSW’s objectives.

Currently the only declared ‘special area’ is in the Sydney water catchment.

“Sydneysiders should be particularly concerned that the government thinks that toxic coal seam gas development in the special areas of their drinking water catchment is appropriate.

“The amendments would also have provided the Government with the opportunity to stop coal seam gas in other vital drinking catchments throughout the state.

“By failing to support the Greens amendment the Government is recklessly risking the safety and security of our drinking water supply,” said Mr Buckingham.

PAC should reject dangerous longwall mining near Cataract Dam

MEDIA RELEASE – 29 October 2014

PAC should reject dangerous longwall mining near Cataract Dam

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson, Jeremy Buckingham called on the Planning Assessment Commission to heed the advice of the Sydney Catchment Authority and decide to reject the proposal by Wollongong Coal (formerly Gujurat NRE) to extend their longwall mining operations near Cataract Dam.

The Sydney Catchment Authority submitted to the PAC:

“In summary, the SCA considers that there are significant issues that need to be addressed. We object to the proposal as it currently stands, particularly with regard to its incursion into the Dam Safety Committee Notification Area surrounding Cataract Reservoir”

Greens MP Jeremy Buckingham said: “The PAC should reject this dangerous proposal and put the safety and health of Sydney’s water supply first and foremost.  It’s crazy to risk damaging Sydney and the Illawarra’s water supply for a few extra tonnes of coal.

“Longwall coal mining causes significant subsidence damage, which is particularly fraught where water resources are at stake.  The Cataract Dam is a multi-billion dollar asset that should not be put at risk for a few million dollars in coal royalties.

“Both the Office of Environment and Heritage, and the Environmental Protection Authority have expressed concerned that the piecemeal approach to planning approvals via modifications means the cumulative impact of coal mining in the water catchment  cannot be taken into account.

“Again I raise my concerns that the Department of Planning is so completely pro-mining that it is not providing critical assessments and advice to the PACs.  This is an issue that has been raised in recent PAC reports and is a matter that Minister Pru Goward must act on.

“The Greens object to longwall mining as an environmentally damaging practice and are particularly concerned about this type of mining under water courses and dams,” he said.

Contact: Max Phillips – 0419 444 916

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