Battle for Berrima says Boral's action plan is not enough

Battle for Berrima has said that Boral’s measures to address to address water quality issues in the Wingecarribee River “do not go far enough”. 

Boral’s announcement followed the issuance of a notice by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), directing Boral to prepare an action plan to address the impact of heavy metal discharge from the Berrima Colliery.

The EPA said three million litres were discharged per day from the disused coal mine into the Wingecarribee River, which is a critical feeder for the Sydney Water Catchment and Sydney’s drinking water.

Boral said it would establish a panel of experts to provide recommendations and counsel the company on best practice in addressing water quality issues in the Wingecarribee River, however, Battle for Berrima is calling for a Parliamentary Inquiry to examine this and other coal mine discharges in the catchment. 

Independent researcher Dr Ian Wright’s analysis and research on outflows from the mine and impact on the Wingecarribee River led the EPA to issue an urgent notice against Boral seeking immediate action after finding:

  • A highly visible (rusty orange) staining at the discharge point to the river is occurring and the increased impact area now extends 600m downstream.
  • This is due to iron and manganese minerals in the mine water.
  • The recent low natural flows in the river due to extended dry weather and high volume of the mine discharge (up to 3 million litres per day) is a contributing factor.

Battle for Berrima president Michael Verberkt said he was pleased Boral was addressing the water quality issue. 

“These are steps in the right direction, but they simply do not go far enough,” he said. 

“Critically Boral is only now responding after an independent researcher brought these matters to the attention of the public, the pollution regulator, the EPA and the company itself.

“It should not be the case where such things are 'out of sight out of mind' and only receive action from those responsible when the glare of public scrutiny is applied.”

Mr Verberkt said there needed to be an independent audit and assessment of the impacts of the Boral mine.

“Further a statewide petition launched by Battle for Berrima will see a range of actions put to the NSW parliament to protect the Sydney Water Catchment and our own precious water resources from this type of impact,” he said.

“This includes an immediate parliamentary inquiry into the impacts of coal mine activities and discharges in the Sydney Water Catchment.”