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Greens candidate challenges sitting member on environmental questions

Posted by Jim on August 1, 2010

The Federal member, Mr Truss, has so far failed to voice his considered opinion on a range of issues that would impact on the economy, the social fabric, the environmental health, and the lifestyle of the population in the Wide Bay electorate.

Central to all of these concerns is the health of the Mary River. The Mary River is an iconic artery that runs through the electorate and there are many issues that could have detrimental impacts on river flows, the estuarine areas, and the Great Sandy Straits. The flow of the Mary River is integral to the health of the seagrass fields in the heritage protected Great Sandy wetlands.

Just as the region is recovering from the Traveston Dam debacle, the Mary River faces threats from three massive open-cut coal mines alongside the Susan River tributary near Aldershot, at Tiaro, and Munna Creek. In addition, the State Government proposes to divert water from the Mary River.

Munna Creek in Wide Bay electorate flows into Mary River Photo: Jim McDonald

Would Mr Truss support the Federal Government rejecting State Government plans to transfer water from the Mary River to Brisbane by applying the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act in a Coalition Government?

When is he going to stand up for the residents of Aldershot, and come out in opposition to plans to discharge coalmine waste-water into the river system, which might affect fisheries and the Great Sandy Strait?

Mr Truss has had a lot to say about bridges in the lead-up to the election, but we are yet to hear his views on the risks to the river of proposed bridges over the Mary River at Traveston Crossing, which is planned to follow the approximate line of the former proposed dam wall, and Coles Creek?

It is incontestable that waste water from coalmines, the groundwater effects on the Susan River of the Colton Coal Mine, and State Government water diversion will harm the environmental flows in the Mary River, affecting the marine environment in Hervey Bay and the Sandy Straits, and the tourist and fishing industries. The health of the Mary River is not something a responsible Member could remain silent about.

Letter published Gympie Times, Saturday, 31 July 2010

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River Threat

Posted by Jim on July 21, 2010

I refer to your article, “Still fighting for Mary River” [Gympie Times, 17 July 2010], which refers to State Government plans to harvest water from the river.

The Mary River also faces major threats from coal mines at Munna Creek and along the river near Tiaro. Closer to the mouth of the Mary, the estuary faces the risks of pollution from a coal mine planned along the Susan River that flows into the Mary River estuary.

What the Mary River needs is a concerted clean-up of water quality. Instead we see more talk of measures that will further degrade the river.

I have written to the federal Environment Minister to intervene in the Colton Coal Mine proposed near the Susan River, but with the timing of the Federal election we fear that the State Government and the miners will proceed with approvals that will change the ecology of the Mary River forever.

Jim McDonald
Greens Candidate
Wide Bay Electorate

Published in Gympie Times, 21 July 2010

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Greens Wide Bay candidate urges Federal Minister to intervene on Colton 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:

Dear Minister

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.

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Queensland: Beautiful one day, open-cut coalmines the next

Posted by Jim on May 29, 2010

Coal survey maps suggest that large swathes of land from Bundaberg to the Mary Valley could end up as open-cut coal mines. This is adjacent to, and in some cases covers, tourist areas, sensitive environmental areas including watercourses and wetlands, State forests, national parks and viable farmland. It extends to the Mary Valley and the Mary River. Figure 1 is a map of the various coal basins in South-East Queensland.

Figure 1: Coal Basins in South-East Queensland

Source: http://www.dme.qld.gov.au/zone_files/coal_files_pdf/se_qld_coal_map_08.pdf,
accessed 24 May 2010

Figure 1 shows very clearly that the Maryborough Basin intrudes upon Bundaberg and Maryborough and extends as far south as Gympie and into the Mary Valley.

WAIT! There is more to read… read on »

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Greens welcome Traveston Dam refusal

Posted by admin on November 11, 2009

Mary Valley

“This is a victory of science over politics. The Greens and the community are thrilled with Minister Garrett’s decision,” said Queensland lead Senate candidate and environmental lawyer Larissa Waters.

“Minister Garrett’s decision to apply the precautionary principle by refusing a dam with palpable risks to the environment is one which restores my faith in our federal environmental laws,” said Ms Waters.

“The challenge is now for Premier Bligh to invest in the alternative sustainable water supply solutions which the Greens and the Mary Valley community have been calling for for years.

“The Queensland government must focus on demand and supply management, rainwater tanks, water recycling, stormwater harvesting, evaporation reduction, water efficiency and sustainable groundwater extraction.

“Only after all these options have been delivered should the government consider the need for more energy-hungry and water-polluting desalination plants. If they are found to be necessary, desalination plants must be powered by 100% renewable energy, be sited out of national parks and have safe brine disposal,” concluded Ms Waters.

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