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Adani spent a year trying to hide this information on its reef spill - Report

Coal News - Published on Mon, 13 Aug 2018

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ABC.Net reported that Adani has been fighting to hide details of what it told the Queensland Government about the risk of pollution to the Great Barrier Reef ahead of Cyclone Debbie in 2017. Now, conservationists say documents and a series of emails obtained through freedom of information laws appear to show the company and the Queensland Government knew the pollution would be so bad it would break the law.

The details are revealed in an exchange over the company's temporary pollution licence and it starts on March 27, 2017.

On the wet and blustery morning, Queenslanders were making sure their loved ones were safe.

Cyclone Debbie what would become the most dangerous storm to hit Queensland since 2011 was quickly approaching the coast. That day, Adani was preparing too. It was seeking a temporary licence to pollute wetlands around its coal export terminal at Abbot Point near Bowen with coal-laden water.

Documents uncovered using freedom of information laws show that morning, Adani realised the large amount of rain falling into its storage pools would likely cause them to overflow onto important wetlands next door to the site.

Satellite imagery released a few months later shows the wetlands covered in polluted water after the storm.

The ABC can now reveal the content of those documents, including a section Adani has fought for the past year to keep secret. That section suggests that later on March 27, while Adani was applying for a last-minute extension to its temporary pollution licence, it appeared to know the water it was likely to dump would be so polluted it would breach the licence.

Wilful breach 'likely to be a live issue'
At the heart of Adani's extreme reluctance to allow the documents to be released is the fact the company was fined for the pollution they did release.

The Queensland Government said Adani admitted to breaching its licence, spilling polluted water into the Marine Park that was 800 % dirtier than was allowed.

Adani told the ABC it challenged that interpretation and that "no breach occurred", but details the company fought to keep secret appear to suggest it knew it would breach the licence it was applying for and the Queensland Government knew too.

According to lawyers from the Queensland Environmental Defenders' Office, this means the breach of the licence could be a much more serious matter.

Government is 'letting them get away with it'
In one email to the department, when seeking permission to release polluted water from the second location, Adani outlined how polluted that water was likely to be.

And it turns out it was likely to be up to 900 % more polluted than would be allowed under the terms of the licence the company was seeking.

Despite applying for a licence to spill water into the ocean with up to 100 mg of coal per litre, in emails to the department, Adani revealed the water that would spill was likely to be up to 900 mg per litre.

Adani told the department that "Releases from this location are small in volume however the [total suspended solids] is always greater than 30mg/L (approx between 500+ to 900 from memory!) as this location is actually a sump and prior to any treatment process."

Mr McCallum said that "It shows they knew they would break the law, and they did it anyway." But the released information also casts a shadow on the conduct of the department ahead of the spill, he said.

He said that "What it shows is that both the Government and Adani were aware that there was very high chance of the breach of their licence during the cyclone, that could lead to the pollution of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area."

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Posted By : Rabi Wangkhem on Mon, 13 Aug 2018
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