Toxic water pollution demonstrates that even dead coal mines are dangerous

Press release - 20 August, 2017
August 21, 2017: The contamination of Sydney’s drinking water catchment by millions of litres of highly toxic water from a decommissioned mine is yet another reason for the government to distance itself from the polluting coal mining industry.

One of Australia's leading water scientists, Dr Ian Wright, today described the waste water contamination revealed in his research [1] from the derelict Berrima Colliery, which was shut down in 2013, as “the worst” he's ever seen.

“Yet again the coal industry have demonstrated their indifference to the environment and the community,” Greenpeace Climate and Energy Campaigner, Nikola Casule, said.

“This mine is continuing to pollute from beyond the grave with millions of litres of toxic water draining into the Sydney drinking water catchment and posing a risk almost five years after it was shut down.

“The mine’s owners have taken their profits, packed up, and moved on, but the communities left behind have to swallow the costs.”

The tests conducted by Dr Wright found dangerous amounts of heavy metals in nearby rivers, with registering  at 120 times the normal level and almost 90 per cent of the aquatic insects in the discharge vicinity have been wiped out. There are close to 50,000 derelict mines across Australia.

“This is not the first time a coal mine has been shown to still be polluting the environment and threatening people’s health long after it was shut down, and it shows yet another cost of the government’s coal fetish,” Casule said.

“Both state and federal governments must immediately move to ensure a just transition for mine workers and to ensure fossil fuel companies are held to account for their crimes, whenever they are perpetrated.”


For interviews contact:

Simon Black

Greenpeace Senior Media Campaigner

0418 219 086 /