Adani says 450% big­ger Carmichael dam does not need new review

The Guardian Australia - - News - Lisa Cox

The In­dian min­ing com­pany Adani has sought fed­eral ap­proval to ex­pand a dam by 450% and build a pipe­line for its Carmichael coalmine, with­out an as­sess­ment un­der na­tional en­vi­ron­ment laws.

In an ap­pli­ca­tion to the en­vi­ron­ment and en­ergy de­part­ment, Adani said it did not be­lieve an en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact state­ment was needed be­cause as­sess­ments had been done un­der pre­vi­ous ap­pli­ca­tions for other parts of the min­ing project.

The project, which it calls the north Galilee wa­ter scheme, would in­crease an ex­ist­ing 2.2bn-litre dam to 10bn litres and build associated in­fra­struc­ture, in­clud­ing 110km of pipe­line, in three sec­tions, to trans­port wa­ter from the Sut­tor river and Bur­dekin basin.

Sign up to re­ceive the top sto­ries in Australia ev­ery day at noon

The com­pany has ar­gued its pro­posal did not re­quire review un­der the En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion and Bio­di­ver­sity Con­ser­va­tion Act for im­pacts on threat­ened species, or un­der the wa­ter trig­ger, a com­po­nent of the act that man­dates coalmin­ing and coal seam gas projects that have sig­nif­i­cant im­pacts on wa­ter re­sources must un­dergo na­tional en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment.

In its ap­pli­ca­tion, Adani said the wa­ter trig­ger ap­plied only to projects associated with ex­trac­tion. It said the pipe­line was a piece of associated in­fra­struc­ture and a sep­a­rate project that there­fore did not trig­ger as­sess­ment for im­pacts on wa­ter.

“It’s an in­cred­i­bly nar­row read­ing of the EPBC act,” said Chris­tian Slat­tery, an Aus­tralian Con­ser­va­tion Foun­da­tion Stop Adani cam­paigner.

“Clearly it’s a project con­nected with coalmin­ing.

“If this in­ter­pre­ta­tion is ac­cepted by the min­is­ter it fur­ther demon­strates the weak­nesses of the EPBC act and the need for a new gen­er­a­tion of en­vi­ron­men­tal laws.”

In its ap­pli­ca­tion, Adani said there was also po­ten­tial for its dam and pipe­line to sup­ply wa­ter for other coalmin­ing projects in the Galilee basin, such as the China Stone coal project.

A spokes­woman for the en­vi­ron­ment and en­ergy de­part­ment said the pro­posal was open to pub­lic com­ment un­til 25 June, af­ter which a de­ci­sion would be made “on whether the pro­posal re­quires fur­ther de­tailed as­sess­ment un­der na­tional en­vi­ron­ment law”.

An Adani spokes­woman said the com­pany al­ready had ap­provals from the Queens­land govern­ment for its wa­ter li­cence, wa­ter stor­age and a por­tion of the wa­ter pipe­line.

“Adani Australia has now sub­mit­ted a re­fer­ral for the con­struc­tion of a 61km wa­ter sup­ply pipe­line for the Carmichael mine,” she said.

“This re­fer­ral re­lates only to how we pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment dur­ing con­struc­tion of the pipe­line, in con­sid­er­a­tion of ap­provals al­ready re­ceived.”

La­bor’s en­vi­ron­ment spokesman, Tony Burke, said the govern­ment should en­sure a thor­ough and rig­or­ous en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment was con­ducted.

“Is Adani ar­gu­ing that the use of this wa­ter is com­pletely un­re­lated to the fact that they want to dig a mine, or that this par­tic­u­lar mine is not large?” he said. “Or are they claim­ing that they are now engaged in a com­pletely dif­fer­ent busi­ness?

“Adani can­not evade the scru­tiny of the ex­pert in­de­pen­dent sci­en­tific com­mit­tee, and the min­is­ter for the en­vi­ron­ment should not be fa­cil­i­tat­ing an op­por­tu­nity for Adani to avoid sci­en­tific scru­tiny on its use of wa­ter.”

Pho­to­graph: Sam Pan­thaky/AFP/Getty Im­ages

Gau­tam Adani, chair­man of the Adani group, which wants to ex­pand the Carmichael dam by 450% and build a pipe­line with­out seek­ing a new en­vi­ron­men­tal as­sess­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.