Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Greenpeace's new salvo against industry group Adanis' Aussie coalmining project: Save endangered bird

By Our Representative
In a fresh attack on Gujarat’s powerful Adani group, which in one of its world’s most high-profile operations is contracted to mine a top coalfield in Australia, the international environment body Greenpeace has asked the Aussie government’s federal environment minister Greg Hunt to use his powers “to immediately order an investigation into the potential impacts of exploration activities by the Indian coal giant”.
Greenpeace has alleged, the Adani has “endangered Australian finch at the site of proposed Carmichael coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin” by continuing with the operation, despite opposition from the local groups. In a statement, it has added, “Greenpeace Australia Pacific's investigations show Adani has ignored its legal obligation under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, 1999 to apply for an approval to undertake seismic testing in prime habitat for the black-throated finch (southern), which is listed as endangered.”
It pointed out, Greenpeace cited the top group’s controversial environmental record in India, especially at Mundra, where it has developed India’s most important private port and special economic zone, to say, “Adani Mining Pty Ltd, the proponent behind the Carmichael mine which will be the biggest black coal mine in Australia, has an embarrassing record both in India and Australia of violating environmental conditions, illegal activity and destroying natural places.”
The Carmichael project is proposed to produce export coal meant for the Indian market. The mine would be linked to the coast by a new railway line, crossing farmland and floodplains. Greenpeace has said, even this is not without controversy. “The expansion of Abbot point will involve the dredging and dumping of 3-million cubic metres of seabed in the World Heritage listed Great Barrier Reef. Huge coal stockpiles and machinery will be wedged between the delicate Caley Valley wetlands and a turtle-nesting beach, less than 100m away.”
Signed by Louise Matthiesson, Greenpeace Australia Pacific Climate Campaigner, the statement said, “The tiny finch is the canary in our coal mine. The minister for environment can make sure Adani complies with all Australian environmental laws, or he can turn a blind eye to their plans to damage one of the last strongholds for this endangered bird. Greenpeace has expert scientific advice that the exploration work has the potential to have a significant impact on the finch, which has already disappeared from 80 per cent of its natural range.”
It underlined, “It would be madness to push an endangered Australian bird further towards extinction for the sake of an Indian owned coal mine which may never go ahead. Adani’s poor environmental record, coupled with recent analysis showing that the mining project is uncommercial, strengthens the case for postponing seismic testing at the Carmichael coal mine site until a proper assessment of its impact on this endangered bird.”
The statement said, “The minster should press the pause button on seismic testing and direct his Department conduct a vigorous study interrogating what impact testing will have on the bird’s habitat and conservation efforts.” It added, “The seismic surveys at the Carmichael mine site are likely to involve slashing undergrowth vegetation and removing trees under 30cm diameter, along strips 4.5m wide, across a total of 3899 hectares of important Black Throated Finch habitat.”
It further said, “Under the EPBC Act, companies have a legal obligation to refer any activity that could have a significant impact on an endangered species to the Environment Department for assessment.” Hence, Minister Hunt use his power “under s70 of EPBC Act to call in the project for urgent assessment and his department is examining the issue.” It has added, in case “Adani proceeds with seismic survey work at the mine site, without referring the matter for assessment, an offence may be committed under s18 of the EPBC Act”, and Greenpeace may take legal action.

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