Independent expert panel

The EPA has appointed an independent expert panel to provide advice as part of our ongoing investigations and monitoring of the mine in the Cadia Valley.

The Panel considers and advises the EPA on potential sources of pollutants and pathways and on controls to reduce the risk of harm to the environment and the community.

The Panel also provides advice to ensure that a comprehensive program of sampling is being conducted, based on the best available science, and importantly ensure the community is provided with the best advice on what is being done and why.

The panel is made up of nine members

  • Annabelle Duncan – Chair – Professor Emeritus, University of New England; Chair, NSW Physical Sciences Fund
  • Lidia Morawska – Member – Distinguished Professor and Australian Laureate Fellow in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Queensland University of Technology
  • Warwick Dougherty – Member – Director, Environment Protection Science, Environment and HeritageGroup, Department of Planning and Environment
  • Dr Ian A Wright – Member – Associate Professor, Western Sydney University
  • Mark Taylor – Member – Chief Environmental Scientist, Environment Protection Authority Victoria
  • Kishen Lachireddy – Member – Principal Advisor, Health Protection NSW, Ministry of Health
  • Daniel Deere – Member – Water Futures Proprietary Limited
  • Dr Simit Raval – Member – Associate Professor, School of Minerals and Energy Resources Engineering, University of NSW
  • Philip Worrad – Member – Coordinator, Rural Adversity Mental Health Program, Western NSW Local Health District

Meeting on 20 October 2023

At the meeting the Panel discussed:

  • community water sampling results by Dr Ian Wright
  • community water and sediment sampling results by the EPA
  • the EPA’s proposal for sediment isotope testing
  • the air quality monitoring program
  • the Human Health Impact Assessment
  • Emissions from Ventilation Rise 8

The Panel members had a detailed discussion at the meeting on the range of sampling data collected from rainwater tanks and at the household tap.

The EPA provided members with a copy of its proposed report of sampling at the kitchen tap, rainwater tank tap, and a separate proposed report for sediment sampling.

Expert Panel Chair Annabelle Duncan said the panel discussed the standards and methods for sampling and analysis and the results. 

“The panel were given the opportunity to review the reports and conclusions and endorsed these to be made public.

“The panel was pleased to see the data across all sampling completed to date demonstrated the vast majority of results from kitchen tap samples did not have metal concentrations above the health-based guideline values.

“The panel discussed the tank water and sediment results and noted that the presence of metals detected in this study are consistent with other studies of rainwater tanks across Australia.”

“The panel discussed the EPA’s proposal for lead isotope analysis to help identify the source of lead identified in water tank sediment samples and provided suggestions to ensure this is robust. This included also analysing samples of soil, tailings dam and particles emitted from Vent Rise 8 collected for comparison.”

The panel also discussed the Human Health Impact Assessment and agreed that further review of this assessment was required, including consideration of data collected by the EPA.

The panel also raised the importance of having accessible mental health support services available to the community.

Meeting on 4 August 2023

At the meeting the Panel discussed

  • the relevant NSW environmental legislation and the regulatory framework
  • Cadia Valley Operations (CVO), the environmental context, and actions to address potential environmental risks
  • the EPA’s regulation of CVO to date
  • the community’s concerns
  • an overview of the monitoring/modelling conducted, underway and being developed.

At the meeting, the Panel members had a focused discussion and provided their insights on the water, soil and air sampling program.

Expert Panel Chair Annabelle Duncan said the Panel discussed water sampling in detail confirming that the results of the EPA’s testing so far show how important it is to maintain tanks and tank water distribution systems to ensure a safe supply of drinking water regardless of the source of the contaminants.

“The Panel members have extensive expertise in water science and management and agreed that tanks should be kept clean, and systems flushed to minimise the risk associated with contaminants in rainwater tanks," Ms Duncan said.

“Panel members also made suggestions about further sampling to investigate any potential exceedances of the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, and importantly to better understand the quality of tank water in areas located away from industrial activities.

“On the recommendation of the Panel, the EPA will also work with community members to understand how community testing has been carried out to date, to ensure that all future monitoring is taken in a consistent and standardised way.”

The Panel will meet again in the coming weeks and will hear from the local community in the Cadia Valley about their concerns.