The South Australian prawn industry has called for compensation from BHP Billiton if commercial losses are caused by mishaps at the Point Lowly desalination plant.
It comes after the Government approved BHP’s Olympic Dam expansion’s environmental impact statements, according to The Port Lincoln Times.
Spokesperson for community group Keep the Gulf Clean Campaign, Barry Evans, said if BHP and the South Australian Government are confident on minimal environmental impacts, then "they should have no problem in affording our industry the protection it deserves".
The prawners are demanding the right to be compensated to be included as a condition in the mine’s expansion agreement.
"We have a direct physical interface with the BHP expansion project at Point Lowly and the risks associated with that should be recognised in the indenture agreement," Evans stated.
"Our industry contributes $45 million to the SA economy annually and we’re saying BHP should carry the risk of any damage to our livelihood, not us."
BHP uranium president, Dean Dalla Valle, previously said that part of the miner’s environmental impact statement is that “we will undertake a range of monitoring measures, including real time monitoring of salinity, to ensure we have no adverse impact on the marine environment of Spencer Gulf”.
The Keep the Gulf Clean Campaign was launched as a direct response to the plans to construct the desalination plant.
"Our scientific team were able to identify weaknesses in BHP’s supplementary Environmental Impact Statement that placed our industry at risk and led to our calls for additional ecotoxicity testing, increased dilution rates for waste water and real-time monitoring. We welcome the fact the government has addressed those issues in its development approval conditions, but it begs the question of what else don’t we know about?" Evans asked.
Rio Tinto may also be forced to stop the development of its $900 million Cape York bauxite mine over a similar issue.
Scientists employed by Rio to undertake an environmental analysis of the north Queensland site have found what is thought to be a new freshwater crab species.
They have also discovered a prawn not previously recorded in Australia.
At the time, Rio said the crustaceans were unlikely to be significantly impacted by its mining developments but it was now up to the State and Federal governments to asses the study’s findings.
Image: The Wilderness Society