Our health and Coal Mining
The effects of coal mining on the environment are devastating – just ask any of the communities affected by coal mining to-date. Here are just a few of the reports on the damage that has been done and can be expected here if our food production, fertile alluvial soil and water supplies are sacrificed for coal.
• Coal mining uses vast amounts of fresh water and damages rivers, streams, creeks, aquifers and swamps (and their associated eco-systems) in the process.
The Ulan mine, for example, draws 11 million litres of water a day from the aquifers – water that is then poisoned by coal. Would we farmers be allowed to use this amount of water and poison it? No, we would be hauled in front of the courts. This is not the case for mines since the royalties paid to the government ensure environmental concerns always come second and lip service is paid to any environmental impacts. This is not zero harm, this is not good for the community, this is not good for our native flora and fauna, this is not good for water supplies down stream, this is not good for Australia.
See here for some graphic pictures of the damage longwalling is doing down South to the Sydney water catchment area. Here are pictures, before and after of wetland destruction, scouring and erosion caused by longwalling. And here For a report on the damage in Southern areas mined via longwalling see here
Having looked at those pictures, just think of the effect that longwalling will have on the Mooki River, Quirindi Creek and the many swamps and springs in our area…..And on the effect of coal-seam-poisoned water on the production of food and fibre on the Liverpool Plains and the released water on the growers and populations down stream on the Murray Darling.
• Coal is poisonous to the land, water and air.
This is because coal strata don’t just contain dead organic matter – they are sinks for toxic heavy metals like mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium, nickel as well as radioactive elements. Coal also contains sulphides which convert to sulphuric acid when mixed with water, releasing more toxic metals due to increased acidity, and benzene-derivatives which are carcinogenic. Any other industry which released such pollution would be subject to the full force of environmental law. However, as the law stands, the miners are not liable for any environmental damage outside their mines! Experience shows that environmental concerns and breaches within their remit – there were 923 non-compliance incidents under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act over the past five years for eight licensed coalmining operations in the Lithgow region alone – are not acted upon and that complaints by mining-affected communities are ignored. Experience also shows that environmental restrictions placed on mines are usually relaxed or overturned during later reviews. Pyrrhic victories for affected communities indeed. Not zero harm, not good for the environment, not good for the people living on the land or in the towns, not good for future generations, not good for Australia.
• ‘Clean’ coal is a fiction
This buzz word is never going to be a reality because coal is toxic when it is mined, processed, transported and when it is burnt. It’s never clean – it’s filthy, dirty, coal. It negatively affects everything with which it comes into contact, except for the miners balance sheets and the government coffers. Even those mining jobs (far fewer than touted) are at the expense of their and the community’s health. Apart from its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, burning coal produces a waste, referred to as ‘fly ash’ (7 million tonnes a year and rising). Fly ash is another toxic, carcinogenic, radioactive residue of coal that we never hear about. For more on coal toxicity and the toxicity of coal-fired power stations, see here and here
Mines also cause subsidence, earthquakes, noise pollution, dust pollution, light pollution, low frequency vibration (all 24/7) and cause widespread and long-lasting health problems to the adjacent communities, those on the transport routes and those downwind. More on this soon – but don’t take our word for it, do your own research, all the information is out there, all the experiences are documented here in Australia and right across the world. Mining companies don’t care about communities, they don’t care about our footie clubs, our heritage, our clean air and water, or how we would wish to leave this World better than we found it: they only care about their profits. “