MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Community stands up to BHP’s destruction of rivers

Published by MAC on 2004-10-22

Community stands up to BHP’s destruction of rivers

22 October 2004

MEDIA RELEASE: Nepean Action Group/ Mineral Policy Institute/ Greens MP Lee Rhiannon

Concerned Western Sydney residents and their supporters have today picketed the BHP Billiton annual general meeting to protest the multinational giant’s plan to conduct longwall coal mining under the Nepean River.

“BHP Billiton has already wrecked two rivers in the Sydney Catchment Area by mining for coal underneath the riverbeds. Now they want to destroy the Nepean as well,” said Nepean Action Group campaigner Carline Graham.

“The Lower Cataract and Upper Georges rivers were poisoned and polluted, and lost much of their flow down thousands of huge subsidence cracks in their bedrock. Millions of litres of methane and hydrogen sulphide gases were vented, killing fish and vegetation.

“We’re not prepared to let the beautiful Nepean River become another victim of BHP Billiton’s destructive practices and the Carr Government’s indifference,” Ms Graham said. Greens MP Lee Rhiannon said: “The NSW Government is sitting on its hands and allowing this environmental destruction and huge waste of water to continue unchecked.

“I have put a motion to Parliament condemning longwall coal mining for sucking up to 3 megalitres a day from Sydney’s water supply.

“That means ordinary users miss out while BHP gets water at a discount rate to try and mitigate its polluting mining activities.

“The Greens are calling on the Carr Government to ban longwall coal mining underneath rivers, wetlands and flood plains, and to review all such mining in the Sydney water catchment area,” Ms Rhiannon said. Mineral Policy Institute spokesperson Techa Beaumont said: "Whether its among Indigenous communities in Papua New Guinea and Colombia or the population of Australia's largest city, BHP Billiton is entrenching its reputation as a river wrecker.

“BHPB cannot keep ignoring the risks of their activities and dumping the problems it creates onto local communities. It must take responsibility for its actions, and agree to stop longwall mining under these precious water resources,” she said.

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