Palmer refutes Greens’ concerns

Clive Palmer has rejected environmental concerns over the possibility of his Yabulu nickel operation's tailings dam bursting during the wet season.

It comes just a day after WWF raised concerns that the upcoming wet season may lead to the dams overfilling, and called on acting premier Jeff Seeney to aid in avoiding a potential environmental disaster.

"Heavy rains from the wet season could hit this area any day now, we have a ticking time bomb on our hands," WWF – Australia spokesperson Nick Heath said.

"The threat of a catastrophic disaster to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area is very real.

"The Government needs to urgently reveal how it plans to fix this.

Heath added that "dumping millions of litres of contaminated water into the Great Barrier Reef is not the answer. The tailings dam water contains metals, nutrients and nitrogen.

"Not only could a release damage parts of the reef but the chemicals could enter the food chain, potentially affecting the fish we eat."

Palmer rejected this out of hand, adding that staff at his Queensland Nickel's Yabulu nickel operation had already been working to reduce waste levels in the pond, according to The West.

"Firstly, the tailing facility is now approximately 2,000 million litres less than in July 2012, a reduction of 22 per cent," he said in a statement on Thursday.

"This is being achieved by the diligent and hard work of our staff who need to be congratulated."

In a statement yesterday, QN's managing director Phil Collins added that the reduction in the water levels had occurred without any discharge.

Collins also took the WWF claims to task, stating that "at no time during this period has the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) complained to QN about the level of water in the facility.

"Contrary to assertions, QN has been actively engaged with regulators on this issue for many months. In this context, QN has also been working closely and co-operatively with an Independent Science Panel, which was established at the specific request of GBRMPA in mid-2012.

"This panel of independent experts, including representatives of GBRMPA and the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) completed its report in December 2012, the contents of which GBRMPA is very much aware."

He went on to say that QN did not complete an application to discharge water through its approved ocean outfall pipe in 2012 as it took into account its existing water management initiatives and a dryer than usual wet season forecast means that no water discharges will be required for the season.

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