Friday, 9 November 2012

The Great Barrier Reef. Beautiful one day, an open sewer the next?

India expects to use coal imported from their Australian mines to power some of their planned 455 coal-fuelled power plants. For this to happen it's expected that The Great Barrier Reef will have even more coal terminals built along its fragile, stressed reef to fill massive tankers which will then be manoeuvred through the treacherous channels between the reefs then around the world.

What could possibly go wrong?

The India co-ordinator Chaitanya Kumar said "what we now need in India is a dramatic shift in policy that puts sustainable and clean energy access as a priority."

Link here to a petition to share concerns that ...
Indian companies GVK and Adani are proposing a series of mega-mines in Australia’s Galilee Basin to fuel their coal power expansion plans. GVK has just received approval for its controversial “Alpha Coal Project” that includes a massive new coal terminal right in the middle in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Adani Group has plans to build what would be, by far, Australia’s biggest coal mine, along with another massive coal export terminal at Abbot Point and nearby Dudgeon Point.
It's not that India is tardy in investing in sustainable alternative energy. In fact they could show countries such as Australia how to use solar panels to prevent evaporation from irrigation channels as can be seen in the photo from Gujurat.
(photo sourced from the web)
A friend recently said to me, surely the coal industry filters their waste water carefully before releasing it back into the environment, and especially when it's near the Great Barrier Reef?

A recent email from Greenpeace gives the following information that would make my friend's toenails curl in horror (my bold):

"There are 250,000 million litres of polluted water sitting in coal mine pits in the Bowen Basin – that’s the equivalent of 100,000 Olympic swimming pools. Some of this water has been there for two years. Instead of treating the water to remove harmful toxins, the coal industry has spent the last two years lobbying for permission to release their polluted water into Queensland’s waterways.

These waterways feed into the Fitzroy River downstream to graziers, towns, the city of Rockhampton and eventually, the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Last week, Premier Campbell Newman told Queensland Parliament “the government will not do anything to in any way degrade the feed water coming down the Fitzroy for their water supply.”

That same day, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney introduced new legislation that allows that to happen.

The Deputy Premier is proposing to create new provisions within the Environment Protection Act that would enable the coal companies to pollute our waterways.

We need to show the Premier that legislation permitting our environment, including the Great Barrier Reef, to be polluted is not acceptable. Send him this message today urging him to pull the Deputy Premier into line and to defend our drinking water and the Reef from the coal industry. 

This new legislation will give companies the opportunity to ask for permission to release their toxic water into Queensland rivers, beyond the standards and guidelines set for safe drinking water and agriculture at short notice and without public review. 

Please tell Premier Newman we need protection for our waterways and our precious Great Barrier Reef from the coal industry."

Link here to petition to let the Queensland government that allowing rampant pollution along the world Heritage Listed Great Barrier Reef is completely unacceptable.

Given that Australia is considered to be the driest inhabited continent on earth, the interior has one of the lowest rainfalls in the world, and around 3/4 of the land is arid or semi arid, it seems insane (perhaps criminal is a more fitting word) to allow coal mining companies to pollute our fragile and precious waterways.
fish with lesions - picture from link
Pollution in waters outside Gladstone affects fish, the fishing industry, tourism and many locally owned and operated local businesses. Lesions in fish are common, which makes them unsuitable for sale. More information here and here.

This issue affects more than Queensland and their government which seems to be in a state of dribbling, salivating lust about squandering finite fossil fuels to overseas countries. Whether we like it or not, we're all connected. Foolish, shortsighted decisions made in Australia affect people in far off lands, India included. Our governments - all our governments and policy makers - need to have a basic grasp of environmental cause and effect to ensure that our world remains relatively inhabitable.

Politicians, no matter where they are have the ability to push in a direction that ensures shortsighted decisions aren't made. How they choose can have devastating consequences for humankind.

Unfortunately, in Australia the motto often seems to be 
"Dig it, drill it, sell it off and stuff the future" 

Perhaps our politicians need to receive training in "How to say no" to the fossil fuel companies.

Another post on The Great Barrier Reef and the devastation that Australia is allowing (encouraging?) to happen in this beautiful area.

And for a short video added 13 November 2012, showing the official line compared to what's happening on the ground


David Macaulay said...

That is disturbing to say the least Sue - by the time I get to see the Great Barrier Reef I fear it will be dead.

Sue said...

David, I wouldn't leave it too long. It is glorious and should be fully protected without question.

In the meantime google earth (ocean?) has something which enables you to look around the coral reefs.

Please feel free to sign the petitions and share the information. I suspect most people have no idea what's happening.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue .. it's horrific that a first-world country is doing this or allowing it to happen ..

I read about underground water in the Middle East is all contaminated with radioactivity and is unsafe ...

I hope the world wakes up .. I fear there are so many selfish people around without any leadership vision to actually 'do something' rather than talk about ..

Cheers - thanks for the exceedingly disturbing information .. Hilary

Sue said...

Hilary the news that seeps coming in from areas near the Great Barrier Reef continues to be sad. I fail to understand how parents can be so unthinking about the importance of preserving an area of such significance and beauty for their children and grandchildren.