The New South Wales (NSW) Environment Protection Authority (EPA) in Australia has found that water discharged from Whitehaven Coal's Werris Creek mine met environmental requirements after completing investigations.
EPA Armidale operations manager Lindsay Fulloon said that the authority requested a report from the mine after a local resident alerted on a water discharge on 30 June, which followed significant rainfall.
During this period, the mine tested and confirmed that water complied with quality limits within its environment protection licence (EPL).
Fulloon said: “The EPA received the report from the mine late last week about a controlled water discharge that took place from 23 June to the 1 July 2016.
“The report highlighted that testing undertaken by the mine before the discharge occurred complied with the water quality limits set in the mine’s EPL.
“This is consistent with the EPA’s observations during the inspection, which confirmed that good quality water had been discharged from the mines sediment basin.”
EPA concluded that this was a lawful discharge by the mine, and also recognised that landholders next to the site have a reasonable expectation of being advised prior to controlled discharges occurring.
The EPL held by Werris Creek mine allows discharge of stormwater from the site when it has been tested to demonstrate that quality limits listed have been met and when rainfall received on site within the preceding period for five days exceeds the design capacity of holding ponds.
In this case, the mine is required to demonstrate that it has been managing water stored within its sedimentation ponds actively in the lead-up to heavy rains and ensure it has met all requirements.