DERM deals out water penalties
TWO mines that breached their environmental authorities for discharging water into the Fitzroy River catchment have been punished.
The Department of Environment and Resource Management fined one of the mines $2000 and warned the other for the late-January releases.
The department said Anglo Coal was issued with a $2000 infringement notice for releasing water from an unauthorised release point at its German Creek Mine after a sediment dam had overflowed during a storm event. The release was heavily diluted with stormwater that flowed through the dam and a total of 2.35 mega litres of water was released.
"Despite the breach of environmental operating conditions leading to the fine being issued, the investigations found no evidence of significant environmental harm having been caused," the department said in its weekly newsletter.
Meanwhile, BHP Coal's Saraji mine received a warning about its "minor breach".
The release saw a breach of an electrical conductivity limit by 15 uS/cm. "The warning delivers a message that future releases need to be shut down before the compliance limit is reached or an escalated enforcement response from DERM may occur," the newsletter says.
The department is still investigating two further breaches at other mines which release into the Fitzroy catchment.
Between February 15 and 21 three mines have made releases into the catchment.
"The focus on coal mine water releases is due to the significant increase in public interest during recent wet seasons," the newsletter says.
Meanwhile salinity levels in the Fitzroy River remain low (see graph below).
At The Gap the uS/cm level was 256.
At its height it had been well above 800 uS/cm.
"Due to the recent flows salinity levels are low throughout the catchment," the newsletter says.
"Without further significant rainfall throughout the catchment in the next few weeks the salinity levels will naturally increase towards long-term averages as the flows recede."