Today I made a visit with Caroline Graham to the George's River at Appin. Caroline is an active member of the RiversSOS group.
The first thing we noticed was the low level of water in the "river" - just a shallow trickle really.Next thing we noticed was the smell - a weak smell of Sulphur Dioxide ("Rotten Egg Gas"). (Editor's Note: My good friend Colin, of RetiredAussies.com has reminded me that "rotten egg gas" is Hydrogen sulphide. Silly me! DJW)
This gas smell is a real worry, as it is obviously associated with the BHP Mining which has occurred very close to the George's River at this point. Caroline can tell you which of the Longwall Panels is closest to the river.
The next thing we noticed was the colour of the water - green - and the heavy concentration of algae floating down the river.The next thing we noticed was that the rocks which obviously had been covered by river water previously were now coated in a white dry powder. It looked like salt, but did not taste "salty". We both tasted it, but thought, afterwards, that we wondered quite what it was we were ingesting!
The next thing we noticed was that there were a few (only) frogs calling, and we saw two Black Ducks. Not surprising, really, as they manage to survive in very poor water conditions in places like Public Parks.
We walked along the river bank for a few hundred metres, and saw a number of BHP Billiton survey marker points. These had been installed by BHP Billiton workers on a previous visit we made to this location on 31 March 2008. We photographed the markers today. One was installed very close to the edge of the George's River - drilled and glued into the rock.Then we crossed the river and found a cracked rock half-way up the rock ridge across the river. Caroline's toes are marking the rock crack.It is not right that BHP Billiton (Illawarra Coal) can boast at its "Community Office" in Appin (which was closed today) that the company has produced a record productivity from its longwall mining. And yet, just two kilometres away, there is a poisoned river, a noticeable smell of gas, with excessive algae, white powdery residue, very low flow in the river, and cracked rocks just above the level of the river.
Why don't they talk about that?
You can make up your own mind.