Evidence supports the case that Adani has broken the law

30 December, 2018

EDO Qld has presented the Queensland Government with new persuasive evidence that Adani has broken the law.

As reported today in ABC News, EDO Qld and our client Coast and Country1 have delivered fresh, persuasive evidence to the Queensland Government that Adani has broken the law by clearing land, building roads, and commencing dewatering operations without the correct approvals in place.

The evidence relates to a spate of construction work undertaken at Adani’s Carmichael mine site, revealed in high definition satellite imagery, drone footage, public bore registers, and on-the-ground observations and photography.

It appears to confirm that Adani has begun undertaking significant ground disturbance by clearing over 5 hectares of their site and constructing access roads without the correct approvals.

It also suggests the company has begun dewatering operations by illegally drilling dewatering bores and pumping water through them.

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Exceeding approvals

This work is not legal under the company’s current approvals, under which they can only conduct Stage One works related to existing roads and infrastructure, environmental monitoring and site security.

Significant ground disturbance, including site clearance and the commencement of dewatering operations, are Stage Two works, meaning it is not lawful for Adani to undertake them at present.

To do so would constitute a breach of section 430 of Queensland’s Environmental Protection Act 1994.

Breaches of the Environmental Protection Act are serious criminal acts, and if done wilfully can result in heavy fines or even jail terms.

Adani has also admitted to submitting an annual return to the Queensland Government which contained false information – this is a breach of both section 194 of the Criminal Code 1899 and section 480 of the Environmental Protection Act 1999, which could result in further charges and prosecution.

Investigation and Prosecution

The Queensland Government is currently investigating the evidence provided by EDO Qld and our client.

If Adani is found to have undertaken such work illegally, the public would expect the company to face the full extent of the law in the same way that other lawbreakers do.

Unfortunately successive state governments have fallen well short of their obligations to properly enforce Queensland’s environmental laws.

In 2013 the Queensland Audit Office found that the Queensland Government “is not fully effective in its supervision, monitoring and enforcement of environmental conditions and is exposing the state to liability and the environment to harm unnecessarily”.

Since then, not much has changed.

Just in the last six months, three significant examples of failures to properly enforce our laws have been shown.

Beyond Adani’s suspected breaches of Queensland’s environmental laws, EDO Qld has also uncovered that, despite objections from local farmers, New Hope has commenced mining an area near the town of Acland without valid approvals.

Earlier this year we also saw an expose by the ABC of the failure to enforce laws designed to protect our Great Barrier Reef from water quality impacts upstream, specifically fertiliser run-off from local farmers in three “priority catchment” areas.

That’s not good enough. Queenslanders expect that when the law is broken, there are consequences.

It’s time to get tough on environmental crime.

Please sign our petition calling on the Queensland Government to step up and enforce their own environmental laws.

1. Business Services of Coast and Country Inc.

Queensland is the custodian of some of the richest biodiversity on earth.

Y
et successive Queensland governments have a history of being ineffective in the monitoring and enforcement of environmental conditions, exposing the state to unnecessary harm.

We urge the Queensland Government to:

  • Fully investigate all potential breaches of our environmental laws;
  • Prove it has done an independent audit of environmental compliance by all Queensland's coal mines given the history and what is at risk;
  • Stand up for the law and environmental protection; and
  • Effectively enforce all environmental laws, including against Adani, New Acland and other big mining companies.

Please take action and see the law is enforced.

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Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) gives a strong legal voice to the environment when needed most.

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