India-based mining company Adani is facing a potential compliance action after the company’s Abbot Point coal terminal released coal-laden water under a temporary emissions licence in early April 2017.
Namely, the Australian Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) would consider the compliance action against Adani Abbot Point Bulkcoal. The facility was authorised to release water under a temporary emissions licence (TEL) from 27 to 30 March, granted to assist with site water management during and after Cyclone Debbie which hit Australia’s coast in late March.
“The TEL authorised total suspended solids releases of up to 100 milligrams per litre. However, Adani Abbot Point Bulkcoal provided a report to EHP on April 24 advising it had a water discharge on March 30 from a licensed point on the northern side of the terminal, containing 806mg/L of sediment,” Jim Reeves, Director General, said.
Under its environmental authority, terminal management is required to monitor all water releases and report any non-compliance to EHP.
In this case, Adani Abbot Point Bulkcoal advised EHP that the non-compliant release from the licensed point on the northern side of the terminal did not enter the Caley Valley wetland, with further investigations by port management indicating that no coal-laden water entered any marine environment, Reeves informed.
“EHP took sand samples on the beach below the release point on April 20 to determine if there was coal present as a result of the water release, with results expected to be available by the week beginning May 8, 2017,” Reeves added.
DEHP informed that it will consider appropriate action in response to this non-compliance in accordance with its enforcement guidelines.
Additionally, EHP was continuing to investigate water discharges and possible environmental contamination from the Abbot Point coal handling facility. This follows aerial imagery provided to EHP by the State Disaster Coordination Centre in early April that suggested there was sediment-laden water flowing from the port into the wetland.
Penalties for corporations whose non-compliance with their environmental authorities or temporary emissions licences causes environmental harm, include fines of up to AUD 3.8 million if the non-compliance was wilful, or AUD 2.7 million if the non-compliance was unintentional, Reeves said.