Controversial mine faces million-dollar fine after sediment water discharge

Posted 9 May 2017

Sediment water containing coalMining company Adani could face a multimillion dollar fine after sediment water containing eight times the authorised level of coal was discharged from their Abbot Point coal terminal. 

The discharge occurred under a temporary emissions licence (TEL) given to Adani by the Queensland Environment Department to help them cope with heavy rainfall resulting from Cyclone Debbie

Adani advised the Environment Department of a “non-compliant release” of site water last month, Environment Department Director-General Jim Reeves told the ABC

“The TEL authorised total suspended solids released of up to 100mg/L,” Reeves said.

“However, Adani Abbot Point Bulkcoal provided a report to [the department] on 24 April advising it had a water discharge on 30 March from a licensed point on the northern side of the terminal, containing 806mg/L of sediment,” he said. 

Last month, an Adani spokesman said the company believed it had acted "within the requirements of the temporary emissions licence", the ABC reported. 

Adani told the Environmental Department that none of the site water reached the marine environment or the adjoining Caley Valley wetlands, Reeves said. 

The discharge has tarnished Adani’s reputation and thrown doubt on their ability to handle future projects, Mackay Conservation Group's Peter MacCallum said.

"Even with a licence to pollute in its back pocket, Adani has still managed to exceed the permitted discharge of contaminants by 800%," he said.

"This is one more sign Adani's mine should not proceed."

According to the ABC, the Environmental Department is conducting an investigation into the possible release of contaminants. The department also said it will consider compliance action against the company over the release. 

If the release is found to be accidental, Adani could face fines of up to $2.7 million; those fines could rise to $3.8 million if it’s found the release was intentional.