Abbot Point spill claim ‘fake news’
ANTI-Adani mine activists have been accused of spreading “fake news” about an alleged spillage of coal from Abbot Point into the Caley Valley Wetlands near Bowen.
Bowen resident and Whitsunday Councillor Michael Brunker said he was “disgusted” by activists employing “before” and “after” photos as part of “a fake news campaign” to frighten people into thinking coal stockpiles were leaching into wetlands.
He said the “before” photo, taken in 2016, showed the saltpan on the 5159ha wetlands looking green and the “after” photo, taken on April 1, looking black just days after Cyclone Debbie crossed the coast between Airlie Beach and Bowen.
Cr Brunker said anti-mining activists claimed the dark water was caused by coal leaching into the wetlands when in fact it was rainwater on the saltpans.
“When the rainwater floods the saltpans, it becomes a dark red colour because of the salt that is in the soil,” Cr Brunker said.
Adani said the satellite photographs were “misleading and not representative of the water quality in the wetland, nor was it supported by visual inspections since Cyclone Debbie”.
Cr Brunker said the Caley Valley Wetland was largely man-made.
He said in its natural form it was a salt pan, but a bund wall built 60 or more years ago to stop the intrusion of saltwater into freshwater lagoons at the southern end had meant that parts of the saltpan during periods of high rainfall became part of the freshwater lagoon.
Comments on the Abbot Point Action Group Facebook page yesterday showed that the group’s supporters believed a spill into the wetlands had occurred.
Claudia Collingwood commented: “Horrendous! It was to be expected! Such a stupid project! They can’t deny the damage now. It is so maddening!”
Jo Birtus posted: “We might get that story to UNESCO... the Great Barrier Reef is indeed in danger, of abuse by those in power!”
Cr Brunker said anti-Adani activists would go to great lengths to stop the project. “People in North Queensland are sick and tired of fake rumours and accusations,” he said.
The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection said an investigation was ongoing.
❝rainwater When the floods the saltpans, it becomes a dark red colour because of the salt that is in the soil. — Cr Mike Brunker
VOCAL: Cr Mike Brunker.