QRC labels water discharge laws too restrictive

The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) has called for changes to be made to the Environmental Protection Act.
Following the recent flooding and heavy rains over the last few months in Queensland, close to half of all mines in the Fitzroy and Burdekin Basins have breached the environmental guide lines set for water discharges.
The industry is now caught between an environmental rock and a rapidly flooding hard place as it seeks to solve the problem of inundated mines.
By 4 December 2010, six mines notified the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) that they had breached environmental authority conditions.
By 6 January 2001 this had risen to 13 coal mines and 4 coal seam gas projects in the basins.
However, this is lower than in the 2009/10 wet season when more than 20 coal mines saw unauthorised water releases caused by heavy rainfalls.
The DERM has said that it will investigate the current breaches, but considers the risk of environmental harm to be low due to the nature of the breaches.
During this time, the Department will provide Transitional Environmental Programs (TEP) which will allow the miners to temporarily operate outside of the environmental compliance codes until they can once more work within the relevant requirements.
But the QRC’s chief executive Michael Roche said there needs to be more done to help these mines get back on track and believes that existing environmental laws are not up to par for situations such as the recent floods.
"We do believe that there are flaws in the way the environmental authorities are framed across the Fitzroy Basin, but at the moment we are dealing with a here and now emergency," he told the ABC
"That’s why the environmental authorities are really being set aside in favour of these transitional environmental programs."
According to the ABC he said that these "environmental authorities as set out under the model condition for the Fitzroy Basin are unrealistically restrictive in enabling mines to adequately manage water."
Roche went on to say that the QRC raised this issue with the State Government back in February 2010 following the heavy wet season.

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