Community protest rally against the proposed Wallarah 2 coal mine held

Darkinjung LALC members rally against Wallarah 2 at the PAC hearing on November 3 Darkinjung LALC members rally against Wallarah 2 at the PAC hearing on November 3

A community protest rally against the proposed Wallarah 2 coal mine was held at the Wyong Golf Club ahead of the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) hearing on Friday, November 3.
Members of the community provided evidence for the third time to the PAC to demonstrate the considerable impact the mine would have on human health and the Central Coast’s major water catchment supply district.
The rally was addressed by Australian Coal Alliance campaign director, Mr Alan Hayes, Lock the Gate spokesperson, Mr Steve Phillips, Mr David Harris, the Member for Wyong, and Ms Lynne Hamilton, Darkinjung Aboriginal Land Council.
Shadow Minister for the Central Coast and Member for Wyong, Mr David Harris, said the latest PAC hearing was very well attended “with not one speaker in favour of the mine”.
Speaking on behalf of the Australian Coal Alliance at the PAC hearing, in opposition to Wallarah 2, Mr Alan Hayes said: “The Department for Planning and the Environment (DPE) has again recommended to the PAC that the Wallarah 2 mine could be approved, and claims that it is in the public interest.
“This is despite overwhelming public opposition to the project and that, at the previous two PAC hearings, it was accepted that the mining company’s economic claims did not stack up, and that the mining company had not been able to guarantee to meet the water supply criteria,” Mr Hayes said.
“The DPE has shown an unwavering bias toward this project, trying to convince the community that despite putting water resources at risk of being lost, a longwall coal mine beneath the Central Coast’s major water catchment will not impact on the town water supply, and on the surface and groundwater systems.
“The Commission is asked to refuse consent to this application given the unsatisfactory state of the assessment by the Department, and the irreversible impacts on the community and the environment that will flow from a long wall coal mine,” Mr Hayes said.
“The DPE acknowledges in its own documentation on Wallarah 2, that the Central Coast’s water catchment is only a small catchment area and that it will need to service the increasing population of the region,” he said.
“DPE also acknowledges that many of the matters raised which will have a direct and adverse impact on the community, have not been resolved by the proponent.
“So the question is, why is the DPE recommending to the PAC approval of this coal mine project?”
Mr Hayes said the DPE, when putting forward its latest approval recommendation, had ignored a number of matters that the PAC, in 2014, and again in 2017, required the proponent to deal with.
The requirements included preparation of a review report on potential losses of baseflow, and stream morphology, and additional groundwater studies.
“The project still presents an array of water supply risks to landowners in the area,” Mr Hayes said.
“The outcome seems that it is accepted that the groundwater systems, and stream baseflow recharges within the Dooralong and Yarramalong Valley, and the adjacent forested hills, with all that this means to vegetation, farming, and groundwater resources, will be totally compromised,” Mr Hayes said.
Mr Hayes also noted another issue that had not been addressed since 2014, that of the deeper groundwater impact associated with voids, at least some of which manifests itself as mine-water predicted to be pumped from the mine daily.
“This amounts to 2.5ML per day, plus possibly another 0.5ML per day from the fractured zone, a large volume of water (2.5 ML is the size of one Olympic swimming pool) being lost to the mine each year, and almost four times than the 300ML per year being claimed by the proponent,” he said.
“It’s a minimum of 438 Olympic swimming pools of water each year, and loss of water from the catchment will continue after mining ceases, but we have not seen this mentioned in any DPE documents, and it would appear to have been ignored.
“The loss of water from the river system will also impact on the Council’s ability to pump water from Mardi Dam to Mangrove Creek Dam.
“That scheme cost some $120 million and was meant to drought proof the Central Coast.
“The experts claim the subsidence won’t damage the infrastructure, but if

the stream flow in Wyong Creek/River is lost, there will be no water to pump to Mangrove Creek
Dam and return it back down the creek system.”
Mr Hayes said the proponent had not provided plans for a reverse osmosis treatment system or evidence that there would be sufficient repatriated water to compensate for the water that is lost.
“Recently, it was seen on the news that the cost to the Springvale mine, which has been polluting the Warragamba water catchment, for a Reverse Osmosis plant would be at least $150 million to build.”
The Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities assessed the proposed Wallarah 2 project in accordance with the provisions of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) water trigger, and was scathing in its findings.
It concluded that relevant information had not been provided on: risks associated with potential reduction of surface runoff caused by subsidence and the adverse effects on the Gosford-Wyong Water Supply Scheme; the fracture potential of the strata between the targeted coal seam and the surface; changes to the regional water balance; the potential impacts of the project on aquatic ecology; and, cumulative impacts associated with current and future mines within the area.
“The PAC’s 2014 Review also recommend that DPI and the EPA consider the broader implications for potential emissions from rail transport of coal before a final assessment report is submitted to the consent authority.
“There is not a word about this in the Residual Matters Report, and it would appear that again, nothing has been done.
“There were a number of residual matters considered by the Commission to be of critical significance to the assessment of the proposal that have not been dealt with or could not be dealt with by way of conditions.
“Yet the Proponent, the Department of Planning and Environment and other authorities persistently fail to address issues raised by the Commission in the Review Reports of June 2014 and May 2017.
“It would seem evident, however, that both the proponent and the Department of Planning and Environment continue to blatantly ignore many of the PAC’s concerns,” Mr Hayes said.
The Nature Conservation Council joined the community to renew calls for the PAC to reject Wallarah because of the risks it poses to the Central Coast’s drinking water supply and local wildlife.
“The project would undermine 53 per cent of the catchment that supplies drinking water to 300,000 in the Wyong and Gosford regions,” said Nature Conservation Council CEO, Ms Kate Smolski.
“At a time when climate change is really starting to bite, it would be irresponsible to let a mining company jeopardise this critical water supply,” Ms Smolski said.
“This project was refused by Labor when it was in government because the environmental risks were too high, and those risks still exist,” she said.
Ms Smolski said subsidence from coal extraction could crack the bed of Little Jilliby Creek and remove a critical water source for native wildlife.
“This region has seen how catastrophic longwall mining can be for sensitive environmental areas,” she said.
“In 2013, Glencore’s West Wallsend Colliery fractured a stream bed in the Sugar Loaf State Conservation Area, sending water underground.
“Glencore made matters worse when it pumped concrete along hundreds of metres of creek bed in a botched effort to repair the damage.
“The Central Coast’s water supply and wildlife would not be facing this threat if the Coalition had kept a promise it made before the 2011 election to ban mining in drinking water catchments.
“Six years later, the community is still waiting for the government to act.
“It would be irresponsible to allow the Wallarah 2 expansion.
“We urge the PAC to reject the proposal once and for all.”

Media release, Nov 2
James Tremain, Nature Conservation Council
Media alert, Nov 2
Bronte Kerr, Essential Media
Email, Nov 1
Alan Hayes, Australian Coal Alliance
Interview, Nov 3
David Harris, Member for Wyong
Jackie Pearson, journalist