Australia

Mining giant Adani fined for polluting 'beautiful' Queensland wetlands during monster storms

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The Indian mining giant has been fined by the Queensland government.

Indian mining giant Adani has been fined more than $13,000 for polluting wetlands in Queensland with storm water during February's major rain event.

The flood water, released into the Caley Valley Wetlands from the Abbot Point coal point, contained almost double the amount of debris allowed under the Port's Environmental Authority.

The Queensland government's Department of Environment and Science this week issued the $13,055 fine to Adani, which it said had breached its environmental obligations.

The Adani Abbot Point coal terminal and the Caley Valley Wetlands on February 9.
The Adani Abbot Point coal terminal and the Caley Valley Wetlands on February 9.
AAP

According to the Mackay Conservation Group, Caley Valley is "one of the most beautiful and largest coastal wetlands in Queensland".

"Of the 200-plus known species of birds that frequent the wetlands, three are listed as threatened, including a nationally important population of the vulnerable Australian Painted Snipe," material from the group says.

This is the second time Adani has been fined for breaching its environmental license.

It comes as the company continues to fight for its controversial Carmichael coal mine in the Galilee Basin.

Adani blames weather

Adani has confirmed it received the penalty infringement notice from the Queensland government but said extreme weather and flood played a role.

"The weather North Queensland experienced in February was an extreme event ... At the time, Abbot Point had received more than 900mm of rainfall at the Port since December 2018 alone," an Abbot Point Operations spokesperson said.

A Stop Adani protest outside Parliament House in Canberra.
A Stop Adani protest outside Parliament House in Canberra.
AAP

"Despite this extreme weather event, our team ensured that no floodwater entered the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, there was no environmental harm to the Caley Valley Wetlands, and the elevation in total suspended solids was a fraction of the levels usually found in flood events."

"Numerous inspections have been undertaken of the Caley Valley Wetlands since the unprecedented weather in February, confirming the wetlands are thriving."

Environment groups react

Environment groups have slammed Adani in the wake of the fine.

"If Adani can't safely operate Abbot Point, how can it be expected to safely operate a giant coal mine?" Christian Slattery, of the Australian Conservation Foundation, said.

"It is ironic that Adani blamed extreme weather for this spill incident. If Adani's planned Carmichael mine goes ahead, digging up and burning that coal will add to global warming, which is intensifying heatwaves, bushfires, floods and other extreme weather.

"No further government approvals to facilitate Adani's Carmichael mine should be granted until current court action and investigations are concluded."

While on Twitter, the Stop Adani group said, "Adani once again caught breaking the law, showing they can’t be trusted to protect the environment, precious groundwater and the Great Barrier Reef".

Additional reporting: AAP

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