Contributed from Queensland
Not too much of a surprise really, but the revelation that both Adani and the Queensland government were aware in advance, that polluted water could be released from the company’s Abbot Point coal terminal during cyclone Debbie in 2017, has still sent a little shock wave around the country.
The Adani licence was amended after the, fact, to allow more pollution in other areas, which includes the Great Barrier Reef world heritage area.
As if this was not enough, Adani was caught breaching the new licence by more than 800 percent. It forced the authorities to issue a penalty notice.
All this was in emails obtained by the Mackay Conservation Group, under Queensland’s right to information laws, and reported by the ABC last week. Adani unsuccessfully fought the release of the emails.
Particularly sinister, is that Adani knew that its contaminated water was well above the total suspended solids (TSS) normally allowed is 30mg/L and Adani’s special conditions, which allowed up to 100 mg/L. The fact that the water contained in the range of 500 to 900 mg/L, was communicated to the department that administers the licence on 28 March.
There was a clear breech and Adani was fined the $12,190. For a multi-billion-dollar company this is nothing and makes a mockery of the law. At the very least, the licence should have been suspended.
Adani fought the fine and release of the emails, because of the fear that they would damage the company’s reputation.
Peter McCallum, coordinator of the Mackay Conservation Group, said the emails show the company knew the pollution could occur.
“These documents that Adani didn’t want released to the public show they were fully aware there was a high concentration of pollutants in the water that would be released,” he said.
A company proved to disregard the conditions of its licence is only encouraged, if allowed to effectively get away with it. The Queensland government promised safeguards, and it is its responsibility to enforce them.
There is one more reason why Adani can’t be trusted and should be sent packing.