Posted by Jim on July 18, 2010
What is it about mining and quarrying that brings out the worst in corporations and in all levels of government and the best in communities? Community groups in the Mary Valley, Aldershot and Kin Kin are great examples in the Wide Bay electorate of community resilience and wonderful skills quickly learned and applied.
Kin Kin Community Group briefing Saturday, 17 July 2010. Photo, Jim McDonald
The Kin Kin Community Group has been fighting approvals given to a small quarry by the Sunshine Coast Regional Council and the State Government to expand into a very large quarry.
Last week, as if to thumb its nose at the community and the legal case before the court, a large section of the quarry was blasted by the operators.
Premier Anna Bligh had refused an application for a large tourist complex when she was Infrastructure Minister because the infrastructure did not support such a large enterprise near the small village of Kin Kin.
The same narrow winding roads, which are not even wide enough for line marking and have single lane bridges, and will carry large quarry trucks if the quarry is allowed to go ahead, were not adequate for a large commercial tourist operation.
It has to be asked, what role has the Divisional Councillor and the Mayor played in the promotion of the Quarry expansion where up to 40 trucks a day will thunder down Kin Kin’s roads?
The Greens have already backed the community and yesterday the Greens candidate for Wide Bay, Jim McDonald, the Greens candidate for Groom, Frida Forsberg, Michael Kane from the Queensland Greens Management Committee, and the Wide Bay Campaign Manager, Bob Borsellino, were briefed on developments in Kin Kin.
Members of Kin Kin Community Group and Greens representatives on site in Kin Kin
Jim McDonald promised his ongoing support for the community group in fighting the quarry and The Greens are planning additional political support for the campaign against the mega quarry.
While campaigns such as Kin Kin’s fight against the expansion of the quarry bring out the best in communities, it also brings out nasty elements. Someone supporting the quarry has systematically destroyed community signs against the quarry:
One of the signs destroyed by vandals supporting quarry. Photo, Jim McDonald
Similar dirty tricks are played out in Aldershot, where community notices and noticeboards against the Colton Coal Mine are regularly destroyed and damaged by night vandals.
Posted by Jim on July 13, 2010
A NSW State Government report on air quality, noise levels and drinking water issues has found that coal mines near Camberwell in the Hunter Valley, NSW, have been exposing locals to an excessive level of dust.
The study found daily dust concentrations exceeded standards during 2008 between 10 and 30 days at different monitoring stations in and near Camberwell. Noise levels were close to exceeding acceptable levels, and the report found they could rise further if the mines were expanded. However, the research revealed there is no evidence of high lead levels in drinking water in rainwater tanks.
One of the coal mines is further from Camberwell than the Colton Coal Mine will be from Aldershot and, like the reserves near Aldershot, are metallurgical coal deposits.
Jim McDonald, 13 July 2010
Sources: iPrime Newcastle; Camberwell Metallurgical Coal Mine
Posted by Jim on July 10, 2010
I have writen to the Federal Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett, pointing out the environmental risks associated with the Colton Coal Mine outside Maryborough and Aldershot:
Northern Energy Corporation plans to develop a 200 metre deep open-cut coal mine adjacent to the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar wetland in Hervey Bay. It is 3 km from the Susan River that flows into the Mary River and forms the Ramsar boundary. It is 3 km from the town of Aldershot and 7 km from Maryborough. The Corporation plans to pump excess water from a coalwash plant that is capable of processing 1.5 million tons of coal a year to Saltwater Creek that also flows into the Mary River estuary. This represents a major environmental threat as well as a health threat to nearby communities.
You refused approval for the Traveston Dam in the Mary Valley among other reasons “because it had the potential to impact on nationally listed threatened species, migratory species, the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar wetland, and the World Heritage values of Fraser Island.”
The Information Sheet on Ramsar Wetlands on your Department’s website says the area covers significant seagrass habitat, which is “likely to be one of the most important habitat components for maintenance of the present ecological health and diversity exhibited by the region.”
These areas act as nursery and feeding grounds for prawns and fish, and feeding grounds for dugong and turtles. The Information Sheet also records sightings of Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphins [Sousa Chinensis], pilot whales and false killer whales in the region.
Those Ramsar wetlands have come under an even greater threat from coalmining. Northern Energy Corporation has completed drilling assays in the Wallum landscape behind Hervey Bay and has applied to the Queensland Government for a mining lease for the establishment of a 100 million tonnes plus open-cut coal mine close to the Susan River boundary of the Great Sandy Strait Ramsar wetland.
The Susan River is critical to the health of the Great Sandy wetlands in the Mary River estuary. It has a small but significant inflow into the estuary and the wetlands. At least two species of dolphin, the bottlenose dolphin and the common dolphin use the Susan River.
The Susan River is a Queensland Declared Fish habitat. According to the Information Sheet, the Susan River and Maroom Fish Habitat Areas combine to protect (in part) tidal lands of approximately 28,000 ha in the centre of Great Sandy Strait.
The Susan river is also home to six species of mangroves, which are used extensively for honey production by commercial beekeepers.
The Directory of Important Wetlands in Australia listed potential threats from the levels of chemical pollutants and turbidity/siltation in the system as a result of increased urbanisation and agricultural activities. The threat of heavy metals and other pollutants from an open-cut coal mine intensifies the threats to the integrity of the ecology of the wetlands.
I therefore call upon you to intervene in accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 before an election is called to prevent this mine being approved when the Government is in caretaker mode.
Posted by Jim on July 3, 2010
[This material may be added to]
Mr. Mark Turner, Northern Energy Corporation:
“Some people are worried about the dust causing asthma but the particular size particle that causes asthma will generally fall out (of the air) before it gets to Aldershot” Fraser Coast Chronicle, 24 June 2010
Comment by Dr. Dick van Steenis MBBS, UK expert on coal mine pollution
The position of Mr. Mark Turner of Northern Energy claiming to be the confident Mr. Fix-it is untenable because he appears totally ignorant of the laws of physics, chemistry, asthma and physiology for starters. He needs to learn that the size of particle that causes asthma is smaller than 2.5 microns, namely PM2.5, and these rise in the air and travel at least 3 miles (4.8km) with those living within 3.2km very badly at risk. That means that Aldershot will be very badly hit.
The vehicles & mining produce lots of PM1 and PM2.5 particles. At Brighton UK in 2007, four earth-moving machines produced a week average of PM1s of 253ug/m3 and of PM2.5s 163ug/m3. The “safe” level of these sizes is around 7ug/m3 and USA/Canada/Japan annual limit of PM2.5s is 15ug/m3.
Studies in Derbyshire and Gwaun-cae- Gurwen revealed 33% of children get asthma 1 mile from an opencast (proved by peakflow measurements etc). At 2 miles 21% of children developed asthma and 12% at 3 miles. These figures are consistent with spirometry of 900 children in the Hunter Valley NSW.
These fine particles produced by the vehicles by emissions and what is thrown up also cause COPD, heart attacks, depression, chronic invalidity and cancers. I attach my 4 page report and 364 references. These will reveal Mr. Turner’s belief in no “health risk” is just deception. Its not a matter of “fear of the unknown” but proven wrecking of the population’s health for financial gain.
In West Virginia USA a recent study found the health damage and premature deaths cost more than the value of the coal. I suggest sceptics travel to Merthyr Tydfil in Wales UK to see opencasting of coal at its worst. Will the company pay for all those within 3 miles to be rehoused as the solution in addressing legitimate “concerns”?? The death rate in the Hunter Valley is 37% above the average for Australia—that could easily be replicated in Queensland.
WAIT! There is more to read… read on »
Posted by Jim on June 30, 2010
In 2007, Anna Bligh, then Minister for Infrastructure refused an application for the development of a $400 million tourism development in the village of Kin Kin. Not only did she say that the project was in conflict with the SEQ regional plan, which allows for smaller tourism businesses such as farm stays and Bed and Breakfast establishments, but she also pointed out, “The region just doesn’t have the infrastrucure to support a development of this size.”
The Kin Kin district doesn’t have the infrastructure for up to 40 trucks a day carrying up to 42 tonnes of rock on the roads either. Kin Kin is notorious for the narrow winding roads that lead to the town. Roads in and out of Kin Kin will become a death trap.
Today I visited this quiet little corner and saw Sunshine Coast Regional Council surveyors marking out the road leading from the quarry to the Kin Kin – Wolvi Road for an upgrade. There is nothing in the Main Roads budget for improving the roads. And, this is despite the Council and Kin Kin residents about to face each other in court.
Wahpunga Creek flows off a ridge, past the quarry, and eventually into Kin Kin Creek, which in turn flows into the Noosa River. The Department of Environment doesn’t call this a stream!
Wahpunga Creek: Qld Dep't of Environment & Resource Management says this is not a creek! Photo Jim McDonald
When it rains, it is quite clear from the next photograph that the stream suffers from quarry run-off. This flows eventually through to Kin Kin Creek and Noosa River. This case is an example of tricksy, bureaucratic nonsense emanating from Departments whose function is to protect the environment, but whose arbitrary decisions are ultimately harmful to residents and the environment. This is what the quarry did to the Wahpunga Creek after rain:
Wahpunga Creek downstream from quarry after rain; clear surface water flowing from neighbour's property Photo Maree Glasby
By the way, the road being surveyed, Sheppersons Lane, is part of the Noosa Trail Network!
There are some complicated issues about the legality of the quarry, which has been a small part-time quarry for years. But, the central issue is that accessibility issues have the seeds of tragedy in them if this small quarry is upscaled. Meanwhile, the lessee forges ahead.
Drilling proceeds for expanding Kin Kin Quarry, 30 June 2010 Photo Jim McDonald
The Greens support the Kin Kin community, which has been working hard to prevent their roads being overrun by large trucks that have no place in their small hamlet. Your Wide Bay candidate, Jim McDonald, called on the LNP Opposition spokesperson on the environment, the Hon Glen Elmes, to get moving on the issue. This needs real action to prevent a disastrous result for Kin Kin and district residents.
Jim McDonald, Greens Candidate, Wide Bay, 30 June 2010
Posted by Jim on June 29, 2010
Tiaro Coal Limited is focussing on the development of a coal mine at Munna Creek.
Munna Creek flows into Mary River Photo Jim McDonald
Munna Creek has a catchment area of 1475 square kilometres. There are problems with weeds infesting wetlands along its course. But, this Mary River tributary faces its greatest threat: the development of open cut coalmines.
The Greens oppose coal mines in the Wide Bay electorate. What’s your position, Mr Truss?
Comment: Jim McDonald, Greens Candidate for Wide Bay, 29 June 2010
Posted by Jim on June 23, 2010
There is some concern in the Wide Bay electorate about the Garrett review on fisheries in the Fraser Coast and Cooloola Coast regions. At a forum at Tin Can Bay in April called to discuss the effects on the seafood industry, the CEO of Marine Queensland, Don Jones, spoke about sustainable industry practices.
Afterwards I wrote to tell him it was clear “that your industry organisation and The Greens have far more in common than we have differences,” and sent him a copy of The Greens’ fishing policy. Greens policy on the industry and recreational fishing is to protect fish nursery habitat and encourage environmentally benign aquaculture industries.
There are, I told him, some useful distinctions he made that should be taken into account in the question of setting up green areas [ie no-go zones] – that we need to take a three dimensional approach to the question of access on the one hand and sustainability on the other.
What Don Jones said at the forum was quite consistent with The Greens’ policy on fishing. The first principal of our policy is the management of recreational and commercial fisheries to maintain sustainable populations and fisheries, and to minimise the environmental impacts of fishing. There was nothing in his remarks at the forum that was at odds with The Greens’ strategy to maintain adequate, biologically representative “no-take” areas within each fishery and/or marine bio-region for the conservation of marine biodiversity and fish stocks.
Nonetheless, The Greens position is outrageously portrayed by ratbags at the edges of the industry as anti-fishing. The Greens policy is hardly about closing down fisheries. The industry and The Greens share a concern about significant drops in some fish stocks.
The Greens go further than the industry in linking an increase in the number of Australia’s marine reserves, particularly where these improve the resilience of vulnerable fish populations. That’s the practical way to ensure sustainability.
But the science needs to be done and the Federal and State Governments need to patrol their respective designated areas to protect sensitive fishery resources against illegal commercial and recreational fishing. At the same time, the Federal Government review of the need for marine parks needs to look at which areas in a reserve might be no-go areas and what regulations ought to be put in place for different systems in the environment within a marine park. Within a particular zone it might require different approaches to pelagic fish on the surface and deep water marine species, migratory fish and fishing on reefs. The Greens do call for a moratorium on deep-sea bottom trawling in Australian waters and require a reduction of inefficient and wasteful by-catch in all trawl fisheries.
Federal Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, has said about the review that neither the borders nor the announcement of the review of the Fraser Coast and Cooloola waters indicate which specific areas will be protected or where areas of mixed use will be allowed.
What is encouraging is that the responsible sectors of the industry, the Minister and The Greens all address the sustainability of the fishing industry. That consensus is a better start than the irresponsible scaremongering of sections of the industry, which the the member for Wide Bay seems to be pandering to in his latest electoral report.
Comment: Jim McDonald, Greens Candidate for Wide Bay, 23 June 2010
Posted by Jim on
I refer to the announcement by Colton Coal Mine’s Managing Director, Keith Barker announcement that the mine would go ahead [“Fraser Coast Chronicle” 22 June 2010].
Residents in Maryborough would be advised to look at the experience of Singleton in the Upper Hunter Valley before they got too excited about the prospect of a mine outside the town.
The affect on children’s respiratory health in Singleton is that one in four children experience problems, almost twice the national average for respiratory problems in children of one in nine.
The affect on public health in Singleton reflects experience in mining communities overseas and there have been many research papers that have confirmed that the proximity of coal mines to a community will have an effect on public health for both adults and children.
The community at Aldershot have done their homework on this, which is why they have opposed the mine. The Colton Coal Mine will be a mere three kilometres from the town.
It is surprising that Warren Truss, the member for the Federal electorate of Wide Bay has been quiet on the issue. Large open-cut mines in remote Queensland are one matter. A two hundred metre deep mine close to cities on the Coast is another. Especially when the estimated reserves will mean many decades of mining.
When the Queensland Government considers Northern Energy Corporation’s application they will have to choose whether mining royalties are more important than the communities of Wide Bay and Maryborough. I look forward to Mr Truss’s comments on the mine.
Federal Environment Minister, Mr Peter Garrett might likewise consider the impact on the immediate environment, as he did with Traveston Dam.
Letter to Fraser Coast Chronicle: 22 June 2010, Published 28 June 2010
Posted by Jim on May 31, 2010
The beautiful Mary Valley
The Mary Valley must be planned and developed as the food bowl for the region and South East Queensland. It is in the national interest that the State and federal Governments treat the future of the Mary Valley as a matter of the highest priority.
There is an opportunity that is being missed here to put in place a highly productive and sustainable food cropping zone to feed the region and export to the rest of the country and even overseas.
The Mary Valley could become a model for efficient food production and distribution by changing the inefficient supply chain practices of the large supermarkets. The primary market for Mary Valley would be the Burnett, Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast and Wide Bay regions supplied directly from the Mary Valley, with the surplus exported to the rest of Australia and overseas.
Intensive but sustainable methods could be world class with efficient water usage and re-usage.
This is the most important climate change policy and population policy for the region. and we hear nothing from either the State or Federal Government. The necessity of acting on protecting and nurturing our best land seems to have escaped the notice of Anna Bligh and Kevin Rudd.
After prematurely acquiring a large number of properties, which it finds it can’t now [sell in its] buy back [plan], the State Government owns the most fertile land in the valley, so the essential planning should be less difficult than under other circumstances.
This is about securing food supplies in an area that has a reliable water supply and fertile land.
The Mary Valley provides the opportunity for model planning in food security. The sustainable development of food production in the Mary Valley is a national as well as a state issue and Mr Rudd and Ms Bligh are to be condemned for their failure to address the question.
Letter to the Gympie Times, published 29 May 2010
Posted by Jim on May 30, 2010
From Noosa Community radio:
Sometime this year there’s going to be a national election, and those chasing seats in Canberra are throwing their hats in the ring. Most of our audience probably live in the electorate of Wide Bay, which covers Weyba Downs and Peregian Beach in the southeast, Fraser Island in the northeast, from Booubyjan in the northwest to the township of Cherbourg in the southwest and Bella Creek in the south. Since March 1990 – that’s 20 years – the seat has been held by Warren Truss, leader of The Nationals, who held various ministries in the Howard government for 10 years. You’d be forgiven for thinking Warren owns Wide Bay. Enter David to challenge Goliath: Greens candidate, Jim McDonald, who’s started stomping the electorate. At a recent little gathering here in The J, next door to us, he put his case for more funding of the arts in the regions – that’s us, for example. That, of course, is not the former union official, teacher and jack of a few more trades’ only platform. I asked him why he was emphasising the arts.
Download MP3 recording of interview with Diet Simon, Interview recorded 2 May 2010
Noosa Community Radio