Ab­bot Point spill claim ‘fake news’

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - John An­der­son

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.

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