Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Nepean River is in trouble

This is a report on a major threat to the Nepean River. May I remind readers that the Nepean River starts on the very edge of Robertson. It then flows under Tourist Road at East Kangaloon.

Nepean River, at Tourist Road Bridge, Kangaloon
In every sense, it is our local river, and we ought care if it is being ruined, just halfway to Sydney, at Douglas Park.

Caroline Graham of the Rivers SOS group has sent out photos which she took two days ago, of methane gas bubbling out of the Nepean River. This is occurring just near the "Twin Bridges" on the way to Sydney. The gas is coming from the coal seams hundreds of metres underneath the sandstone rock layers.

The gas is naturally occurring (released by the coal seams, but it normally stays trapped by hundreds of metres of sandstone rock), but:

Methane Gas bubbling out of the Nepean River 27.1.2008
Illawarra Coal (a BHP Billiton subsidiary) has cracked the bedrock, by subsidence spreading out from their Longwall Mine (Appin West, Area 7) close by.
  • BHP Billiton, in a press release of 18.1.08, have admitted that the first of their four underground longwall coal mines at this site has caused “minor releases of gas at the surface of the Nepean River”.
  • Methane gas vents on this scale show that the river bed has been extensively cracked and fractured as a result of the current mining operation carried out by BHP Billiton, which is extracting coal here at an offset distance of a mere 180m from the river.
  • BHP Billiton indicated in their Environmental Impact Statement that, in their opinion, an offset distance of 500m would be safe for the Nepean, but that this was “not economically feasible.” (This from a company that made $14 billion in profits last financial year).
Methane Gas bubbling out of the Nepean River 27.1.2008

So, in effect, BHP has decided that the River can be cracked, and poisoned, because making profits from coal is more important than the health of the Nepean River. It is as simple as that.

The Iemma Government is complicit in this, as it approves the Mine Subsidence Plans which BHP submits in advance of any mining. And, let us not forget that "fees" the companies pay via the Part 3A process under the Environment Planning and Assessment (EP&A) Act 1979, and the "royalties" the Government receives.
Methane Gas bubbling out of the Nepean River 27.1.2008
What is to be done?
Tell everybody you can who cares about this iconic river. After all the Hawkesbury/Nepean basin defines the Sydney Basin (region), and it is the fresh food "basket" for Sydney, and these rivers supply all the water for the entire population of Sydney and Wollongong.

Ring your local Member of Parliament, or ring Illawarra Coal directly.
  • Pru Goward MP, the Member for Goulburn in the NSW Parliament, is our local Member in the Southern Highlands. She should know about this already, as I have emailed her directly. Her electorate includes the Nepean Dam (the main reservoir on this river, although the damage is occurring just below that point, and therefore is just outside her electorate.
  • Phillip Costa MP is the Member for Wollondilly - and is the State local Member for the area where the damage is occurring.
If nothing occurs to stop this damage from getting worse, then the future of the Nepean River will look like this (an actual photo of the Georges River at Marhnyes Hole (pronounced "Marney's Hole" at Appin, in 2005.)

A dead river.
Iron Oxide staining, algae and bacterial mats
George's River, Marhnyes Hole. 2005
Do something today, before the Nepean River is killed, as the headwaters of the George's River have been killed.


Anonymous said...

This is shocking, surely the people responsible for raping the planet, should go down in history as ultimate warlords!

Denis Wilson said...

Warlords is too grand a title for them.
Greedy Vandals.