Friday, October 10, 2008

Film & Information Evenings well attended






Friends of Felton organised 2 very successful Film & Information Evenings in Pittsworth and Toowoomba on Wednesday and Thursday. 190 people attended, including several TRC councillors. The event was billed as "Coal Mining in our Backyard - How will it affect us? What can we do?"

The film "Rivers of Shame 2" was shown, which highlights the impact of mining on rivers, aquifers, and local communities. It was produced by the Rivers SOS Group in NSW.

Chair of Friends of Felton, Rob McCreath, gave a presentation to demonstrate the extent of the coal mining industry on the Darling Downs at present, and to show which areas are currently covered by Exploration Permits.

"Many people are blissfully unaware that virtually the entire Darling Downs is under threat from the mining industry. This land is amongst the very best in Australia, and we must act quickly to pressure the Qld Government to protect it from mining, before it is too late. The imminent construction of the "Missing Link" rail line from Wandoan to Banana will allow the export of coal from the Darling Downs through the port of Gladstone. A large number of companies are keen to develop mines in prime agricultural areas such as Felton, Cambooya, Jimbour, and Warra. Some of these areas, such as Hodgson Vale and Wyreema are virtually in the suburbs of Toowoomba."

On Friday Ambre Energy applied for a Mining Lease at Felton. They propose building a 12.8Mt/yr open cut mine, and a petrochemical plant to convert the coal to liquid fuel.

"The Felton Project would have a horrendous impact on the environment, affecting the entire Toowoomba Region and beyond. It would poison our water supplies, and emit toxic pollution into the air. If the Felton Project is allowed to go ahead, it will be virtually impossible to stop the others, because they will seem clean in comparison" said Mr McCreath.


Dr Pauline Roberts, from the Caroona Coal Action Group, Liverpool Plains, NSW, highlighted how toxic coal is to human and environmental health. She said -

"Elements such as arsenic, mercury, lead, cadmium, selenium, nickel, vanadium and copper are accumulated and concentrated within coal and associated strata.

Radioactive elements such as uranium, thorium and radium (the latter which decays to radon gas) are also accumulated and concentrated within coal strata. These are toxic in their own right and toxic via the radioactivity they emit.

Coal seams, even those considered ‘low sulphur’ contain significant amounts of sulphur and sulphides whose bio-toxicity increases when exposed to air or water.

The fine particulate nature of coal dust, and the toxic constituents therein are readily inhaled and lodge in the lungs as well as being ingested.

Coal strata also contain hydrocarbons and benzene-ring derivatives within their organic layers that are considered carcinogenic.

Any water that is found within coal strata will be saline in nature, contaminated with organic derivatives and toxic and heavy metals.

Children, with their increased needs for minerals are particularly at risk from heavy metal toxicity. Some of these metals, like lead, have half lives in the body of 20 years, which means that their effects will only be truly known over several decades."

Dr Roberts warned a large part of State Government mining royalties should be allocated to the Health budget to cope with the long-term impact of the present mining boom.

Acland farmer Sid Plant spoke of his family's experience of living next to the New Acland mine. He told the meeting of the constant noise from blasting and heavy machinery, saying he hadn't slept properly at night for the first 18 months. He described the dust cloud which had aggravated his wife's asthma, and contaminated their drinking water. They now drank filtered bore water, as they could no longer drink the water collected from their roof. He pointed out the favourable treatment mining companies get from the State Government. "New Hope are putting in a water pipeline to supply their proposed mine expansion, before the EIS process has been completed." He said.

1 comment:

Teh Electorate said...

Dear Humble:
The way this reads, dated as it is yesterday, Oct 10, "On Friday Ambre Energy applied for a Mining Lease at Felton." despite obvious community concerns, and despite equally obvious environmental hazards, which the company cannot say they aren't aware of: (from http://210.247.205.230/WhatWeDo/EnvironmentalResponsibility.aspx ?
"At Ambre Energy, we take our environmental responsibilities very seriously. The long-term viability of our company and its projects will depend on the thoroughness with which we control the impacts of our projects and rehabilitate areas which we have mined or otherwise affected.

For example, the company’s Felton Clean Coal Project is located in a closely settled, agricultural area which includes some cropping capacity and which has suffered a shortage of water for many years. The company will be expected to rehabilitate any mined areas to a state equal to or better than its pre-mined state, and to minimize any impacts on local water sources.

Parallels can be drawn between the project at Felton and those that have been undertaken over many years in Australia’s Hunter Valley, which has the following features:

* Co-existence of mining operations with large-scale farms, hobby farms, wine industry and tourism
* Attractive agricultural landscapes
* Some towns (eg. Muswellbrook) have very large mining operations within 2 km
* Intense local scrutiny is leading to ever improving environmental standards and reduction of impacts
* Long history of mining has resulted in valuable bank of experience and number of innovative rehabilitation projects

Although the extent of Hunter Valley mining is many times larger than that proposed at Felton, the environmental lessons learned in the Hunter Valley will be of great benefit as Ambre Energy designs its projects."

What part of "it's just not good enough, Piss off" don't they understand?

They include some very nice photos to show they are aware of what they seek to destroy.)

Anyway, from the dating and text ofyour post, does it mean they haven't got their permit yet, or was it ready waiting for them to pick up from the front desk at minerals house?

What was the process by which this lease will or won't be granted, is there an eis, and has Peter Garrett got any jurisdiction over this? Because he damn well should have, IMHO.

What avenues do we have to object?

Is the minister ready for retirement to a board?

Where's Ronan Lee? Has he spoken up in parliament?

Great work by the way. Maybe next year instead of having a float in the Carnical of Flowers, you'll be part of miserable parade of the Felton Cavalcade of Coal and Crap.

To be continued ...

By the way, there's been a lively and long lived discussion thread going on over the last week at the Larvatusprodeo.net blog, (under the heading "Indooroopilly Labor MP Ronan Lee joins Greens" ) where the felton valley is mentioned a few times. Folks can still add their thoughts to it, it hasn't been shut down yet. You never know. Ronan the Green, as he is being called, could stand for the Senate as a Green and therefore you and the other local Humble Peasants could be part of his electoral constituency, and career path.