BY DAVID TWOMEY · JUNE 22, 2012 A Victorian member of Australia’s upper house Senate has urged the minority Labor government to stop an...
BY DAVID TWOMEY · JUNE 22, 2012
A Victorian member of Australia’s upper house Senate has urged the minority Labor government to stop an energy company from pumping thousands of megalitres of potentially polluted water from a Victorian open cut mine into the Gippsland Lakes.
Democratic Labor Party senator John Madigan said the Victorian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) had given the company TRUenergy permission to release potentially polluted water from the Yallourn open cut coal mine directly into the La Trobe River.
The mine became flooded during recent heavy rains in the southern state.
Senator Madigan said the La Trobe River flows into the Gippsland Lakes which are listed under the Ramsar Convention, or Convention on Wetlands of International Importance.
During Senate question time Senator Madigan said the Victoria EPA had not tested the water and was relying on test results supplied by TRUenergy.
He asked the federal Labor government what action it was taking to stop the polluted water being released and whether it would demand independent water testing be carried out.
Representing the environment minister Tony Burke, Senator Stephen Conroy said the matter had been referred to the federal environment department’s compliance and enforcement branch for investigation.
Senator Conroy said recent heavy rain in Gippsland had damaged a section of the Morwell River diversion and was impacting on the operation of the Yallourn power station.
Senator Conroy said he would seek further information on notice.
Senator Madigan told the chamber TRUenergy had flagged starting to pump 100 megalitres of the water as soon as today, rising to 2000 megalitres a day.
“Is the minister willing to act today?” he asked.
He said water pollution would impact on the Gippsland region’s farming, fishing and tourism industries and its diverse wildlife including five endangered species.