COAL SEAM GAS (CSG) and coalmines in Central Queensland have released polluted water into the local river system due to flooding.
The Environment and Resource Management Department (DERM) has reported that nine coalmines and two coal seam gas operations have released water "outside of their Environmental Authority conditions" recently.
"There have also been a number of unauthorised releases from some mines, caused by the unusually high water levels but the risk of environmental harm is likely to be low,” acting Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Andrew Fraser said
"On-going monitoring by DERM shows that water quality in the Fitzroy system remains high and is expected to continue to do so with the torrential rain flowing into the system.”
A DERM spokesperson said CSG operator Arrow, based at Moranbah is currently releasing outside its environmental authority, as are coal mining operations Anglo Coal at German Creek, and QCoal's Sonoma facility and Xstrata at Oaky Creek.
The companies involved had alerted DERM to each of the incidents, the spokesperson said.
Surat /Bowen Basin Friends of the Earth spokesperson Drew Hutton said DERM is powerless to stop flood waters creating massive pollution from mine sites across the state.
“Mines will be releasing huge amounts of heavy metals into the flood waters and much of this will pile up behind weirs in catchments like the Fitzroy and be a pollution problem for many years,” Mr Hutton said.
“Pollutants include dangerous levels of copper, uranium, zinc, aluminium, lead, arsenic, cobalt and nickel.
"Even more worrying, flooding of coal seam gas areas is undoubtedly over-topping holding ponds containing large amounts of salty water.
“Once this salt hits the high clay content black soil plains of the Darling Downs it is likely to destroy the ability of these fields to produce again since salt on soil containing more than 30 per cent clay renders such soil unproductive.”
Queensland Resources council chief executive officer Michael Roche said the environmental regulator has been strict but has been realistic about the situation.
“Flooding is causing millions of dollars of losses as means of transport such as railways and roads are closed, and the mines themselves are flooded,” Mr Roche said.
There are estimated to be 45 coal-carrying vessels waiting offshore from the Dalrymple Bay coal terminal near Mackay, and QR National's Blackwater and Moura coal freight lines are also closed, cutting shipments from the Port of Gladstone.