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MEDIA RELEASE: ‘The wetland is coal black’ - New pictures show extent of damage from Adani’s coal spill

Wed 12 April 2017

Abbot Point Beach viewed from helicopter 11 April 2017

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) have released new drone and helicopter footage showing the extent of environmental damage to a nationally significant wetland caused by Adani’s coal spill at Abbot Point.

The footage of the polluted Caley Valley wetlands and also how the area looked before can be downloaded here.

  • A thick black sludge of coal has flowed from the Adani coal port into the wetland, smothering a large area of wetland.
  • The adjacent beach, which now appears to be scattered with lumps of coal, is a turtle nesting ground
  • The wetland is home to threatened native species including the Australian Painted Snipe (Rostratula australis)
  • As well as smothering the wetland’s vegetation and sediments, coal dust can release toxic heavy metals into the water including mercury and selenium

ACF President Geoff Cousins said:

“The wetland has turned coal black. It looks trashed. It’s a tragic and shocking picture of what the future of the Reef coast looks like if we don’t stop digging up coal,” Mr Cousins said.

“As acknowledged by India’s former environment minister, Adani has an appalling track record. There is nothing to suggest it will be any different here at the doorstep of our most precious natural wonder the Great Barrier Reef.

“The Adani companies have proven they can’t be trusted with the environment and the climate. The idea that we’d spend public money propping up their operations beggars belief.”

AMCS Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director Imogen Zethoven said: 

“The Caley Valley Wetlands today are a microcosm of what could happen to our Great Barrier Reef if the Carmichael mine and port go ahead,” Ms Zethoven said.

“If the Reef were a person, it would be crying out for help. In nearly 20 years it has suffered four severe coral bleaching events, 10 severe cyclones and four massive flood events washing huge volumes of pollution into its waters. It can’t take much more.

“The majority of Australians believe the state of our Reef is a national emergency and yet, rather than responding to the crisis, both the federal and Queensland governments are racing ahead to make the crisis worse. It defies belief,” Ms Zethoven said.

Dr Jon Brodie, of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, said:

“It is highly likely that there is environmental harm due to the loss of light for the plants and clogging of fish gills with fine coal dust.

“Given the complexities of governance - the regulatory authority and port owner is the Queensland government and the port operator is Adani – it is vitally important to have a transparent, independent and urgent investigation of this environmental harm.”

Geoff Cousins and Imogen Zethoven recently led a delegation to India and toured other sites of environmental damage caused by Adani operations.


Abbot Point viewed from helicopter 11 April 2017

Media contacts

ACF: Peter Stahel (Essential Media) 0408 584 439

AMCS: Ingrid Neilson, Communications Manager, 0421 972 731

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