Any water discharged from the Springvale mine, near Lithgow, needs to be treated to the legally required standard to ensure Sydney has safe drinking water, urge health experts.
Doctors for the Environment Australia, a medical group supported by a Nobel laureate and recipients of the Australian of the Year, has made the call in response to Centennial Coal’s application to the NSW Land and Environment court to allow it to continue operating while not meeting the legal requirements for any discharges of its mine water into the Cox’s river.
Water discharges from the mine include arsenic, barium, boron, lithium, manganese, molybdenum, copper, iron and over 14,000 tonnes of salt a year.
This river feeds Warragamba Dam, which supplies water to 3.7 million people living in Sydney and the lower Blue Mountains.
Lithgow doctor and DEA member, Dr Richard Stiles, says, “Laws are put in place for generally good reasons, and this certainly applies to protecting our drinking water quality.
“Clean drinking water is a basic human good, essential for human health. There needs to be a high social priority given to protecting the quality of our drinking water”.
The environmental advocacy group, 4Nature, and the NSW Environmental Defenders Office recently won a case where the NSW Court of Appeal found that the planning consent that had been granted to Centennial Coal’s Springvale mine in 2015 was invalid, as it had not adequately addressed environmental regulations for discharges into a drinking water catchment.
DEA’s NSW Chair Dr John Van Der Kallen says, “This recent legal determination should set a precedent for all developments within all our drinking water catchments. We cannot afford to disregard the health effects of environmental pollution. We need to maintain, even increase, our environmental protections.”
Dr Van Der Kallen says there needs to be proper Health Impact Assessments with all Environmental Impact Statements.
“Applying laws fairly is a basic part of our civil order – whether for an individual or a business. Industry in the Lithgow area has come to expect free kicks when it comes to environmental impacts, but hopefully these days are coming to an end”, says Dr Stiles.
Dr John Van Der Kallen – 0431 535742
Dr Richard Stiles – 0427 525484