Adani approval questioned
The approval of Adani’s water plan “reeks of political interference”, according to Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch.
The reports on which federal Environment Minister Melissa Price based her approval criticised Adani’s assumptions.
CSIRO scientists warned that Adani's water management plan for its Carmichael coal mine was so flawed that its outcomes would be seriously unreliable.
The modelling underpinning the entire plan was replete with errors and false assumptions, they said.
“The modelling used is not suitable to ensure the outcomes sought by the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Protection Act are met,” the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia stated bluntly in a joint report.
It found Adani's approach was “not sufficiently robust to monitor and minimise impacts to protected environments”.
Associate Professor Matthew Currell, a chemical and environmental engineer at RMIT, says there are a number of issues.
“The Adani mine will potentially result in significant impacts on groundwater-dependent ecosystems in central Queensland, including the nationally protected Doongmabulla Springs Complex,” he said.
“Possible impacts include drying up of spring wetlands and reduced flows of groundwater to spring vents and pools, which could lead to irreversible ecological and cultural damage.
“The management plan prepared by Adani to monitor and protect against such impacts in late 2018 was hampered by data gaps and scientific uncertainties, which resulted in the identification of serious short-comings in the plan’s assessment and management approach.
While the Environment Minister indicated that advice from the CSIRO suggested these problems had been addressed, A/Prof Currell says the assessment process was conducted behind closed doors, without opportunity for the public, communities and non-government scientists to independently critique and scrutinise the most recent version of the plan.
“Given the extraordinary ecological significance of the springs, the potential for irreversible impacts, and the scientific debate on this issue over the past five years, the mining company and minister must make public all of the relevant documentation and justification for the decision, and allow the independent community an opportunity to carefully examine the plan prior to further assessment by the Queensland government.”
The report would have given Ms Price good grounds for asking Adani to scrap its modelling and go back to the drawing board, but instead she gave it the green light.
This may have been due to the intense political pressure from Liberals and Nationals anxious to see the Federal Government give them something to campaign on.
Resources Minister Matt Canavan has denied reports that he threatened to quit unless the Environment Minister signed off on Adani's plan, while Queensland senator James McGrath warned he would call for Melissa Price's resignation unless she did the “right thing”.
The Labor government in Queensland must also sign off on the water management plan and a series of other requirements before the mine can be built.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has urged Adani to fulfil its requirements and submit its outstanding plans, according to the ABC.