Another busy month at NQCC! November will be another eventful month, with Maree attending the Environment Roundtables with other Queensland enviro groups, NQCC hosting an intern, and our unmissable trivia night on the 19th – don’t forget to purchase your tickets!
In this issue: Townsville Port expansion – radioactive contamination at Ben Lomond – Adani ‘critical infrastructure’ – Hell’s Gate Dam forum wrap-up – fisheries reform – Marine Park review – Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – NQCC’s trivia night – EOI for 2017 postcard exhibition.
Townsville Port Expansion and AEIS
NQCC has been very active on the local issue of the Port expansion. We held a well-attended community forum on Magnetic Island on 26 Oct, sharing concerns about the impact of dredging on the marine environment.
Townsville and Magnetic Island are potentially facing a decade of new dredging in Cleveland bay under revised plans for the expansion of the Port of Townsville. The amount of dredging will be much greater than originally intended as the channel will be almost twice as wide.
Port expansion at this scale will muddy the waters of Cleveland Bay, choke local reef tourism and threaten marine life.
We are asking our supporters to make a submission to the State government, and have made this submission template as a guide.
We also have a “click and send” version to show your opposition to this pointless and damaging endeavour. Submissions close next Monday 7 Nov.
Toxic Radioactive Pollution from Ben Lomond Mine
We have obtained data revealing radioactive and heavy metal contamination of watercourses near the Ben Lomond uranium mine, 40km from Townsville. Read about the history of Ben Lomond Uranium Mine here. The levels of radiation, arsenic, lead and uranium in ground and surface water at Keelbottom Creek sampled throughout 2010-15 show an alarming exceedance of the Environmental Authority conditions. The Queensland Government has finally acted, issuing an Environmental Protection Order to the leaseholder last Friday. However, the State Government has downplayed the significance of the contamination, failing to alert the community to their potential exposure to radiation and heavy metals.
The Adani Carmichael coal mine has been granted ‘critical infrastructure’ status by the Queensland Government. It’s intended to speed up the approvals process for the project by combining its major elements, the mine, rail line and water infrastructure, in assessment and allowing the Coordinator-General to sign off on approvals quickly. This status is usually reserved for matters of national security, public education and health.
NQCC, alongside environmental groups everywhere, were outraged by the decision. As this article elaborates, fast tracking the Adani coal mine is a bad idea.
The final approval the mine needs is it’s water licence. This decision comes as groundwater legislation is in front of Queensland Government. The proposed reforms ensure groundwater use is still assessed as part of a mine’s Environmental Impact Statement, rather than requiring a separate water licence. Those mines that have already completed their EIS, such as the Carmichael Mine, will have to apply for an ‘Associated Water Licence’, this licence is assessed under a weaker set of criteria and does not represent any additional challenges for Adani. If this Bill is not passed, Newman’s 2014 water laws granting statutory rights to water without any licensing process come into effect in December. NQCC wrote this submission to the State Government on the matter, and made this media release.
Water Security in Townsville
On the 10th of October, NQCC hosted a forum on the Hell’s Gate Dam feasibility study currently being conducted by Townsville Enterprise Ltd. We have published a full wrap-up of the lively discussion, available here. This is the third instalment of our water security series, with a fourth part coming soon about climate change and water security. Part 1 by Gail Hamilton was a discussion paper about water security and Part 2 by Vern Veitch was about water infrastructure options.
It has been suggested that the dam could provide 49,000 Ha of arable land which could be used for the production of sugar and ethanol. Dubious claims about the dam’s capacity to increase Townsville’s water security have also been made. The greatest potential environmental impact of the dam is the amount of land clearing required for its construction and the development of surrounding agriculture.
Other work that NQCC has been active on this month includes:
- facilitated the local Townsville Divestment Day action. All over Australia people were closing accounts or providing letters of notice to banks that continue to provide financial support to fossil fuels. Read our summary here.
- Fisheries Management Reform in Queensland – read our submission generally supporting reforms to fisheries management.
- Australia’s Commonwealth Marine Reserves Review – we were concerned with several of the recommendations within the review including a 26% reduction of our largest Marine National Park Zone in the Coral Sea and reduction or loss of protections in other Marine Parks. As climate change puts increased pressure on our marine environments, Marine Parks are vital for marine conservation and in safeguarding the future of the dive tourism industry. For a full list of NQCC’s recommendations, read our submission here.
- Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – there are several conservation implications if the TPP is enacted. We thought it was outrageous that climate change wasn’t mentioned, and that government that take strong climate action are liable to be sued by corporations if it’s deemed that their profitability is affected. The threat of litigation means that governments might relax environmental protections. Our full submission is available here.
Sadly, the NQCC Trivia Night won’t be back this year. We had to cancel it a week before the published date, because we simply didn’t have enough bookings. The really sad thing is that when we did, we got so many responses saying, “We were planning to attend but just hadn’t got around to booking yet!”
We will be back again with hilarious challenges, brain tantalising quizzes and ample opportunities to bribe your way to glory and we really hope that everyone takes this disappointment to heart and books, early!
When: ??? 2017
Tickets and RSVP ???
Mundy Creek Landcare
The Mundy Creek Landcare group are meeting again this Saturday to continue their regeneration project. It is requested that you bring a hat and protective clothing as well as drinking water. You can find more details on their Facebook page.
When: Saturday 5 November, 4–6pm
Where: Mundy Creek, near the footbridge
Postcard Exhibition 2017 – Call for Artists
We are looking for artists interested in donating a postcard sized piece of artwork in any medium for our 2017 Postcard Exhibition. The exhibition will be held at Umbrella studios from the 27th of January, the artworks will be auctioned on the 3rd of March. Please express your interest by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn to Identify Tropical Rainforest Plant
The Australian Tropical Herbarium and Wet Tropics Management Authority are conducting their annual short course in Rainforest Plant Identification, to be held in Paluma from the 25th November to the 27th November. Spaces are limited, and enrolments close on Monday 17th November. If you’re interested, see the attached brochure for more details on how to register, go here. Any further enquiries about the course can be directed to email@example.com.