Camp Gully Creek pollution clean-up and investigation
Metropolitan Collieries started the clean-up of the creek after we issued a Clean-up Notice on Friday, 16 September. Metropolitan Collieries has completed the clean-up from the 2022 incidents in line with the requirements of the Clean-Up Notice.
How was the clean-up carried out?
The clean-up involved two phases to ensure minimal impact on the creek and surrounding areas. The first phase focused on the removal of coal material above the waterline. The second phase focused on the removal of coal material beneath the waterline.
Independent ecologists prepared the clean-up approaches:
- Phase one clean-up approach (PDF 704KB)
- Phase two clean-up options evaluation report and clean-up protocol (4.8MB)
Clean-up works commenced in Garawarra State Conservation Area and Royal National Park following the National Parks and Wildlife Service considering a Review of Environmental Factors and issuing consent.
Our officers regularly monitored clean-up activities to ensure minimal impacts on the creek and surrounding areas. Independent ecologists prepared the clean-up approaches and carried out assessments to determine the most appropriate methods.
In early September we issued a Prevention Notice to Metropolitan Collieries requiring the following immediate preventative actions:
- improving stormwater management practices and monitoring
- increasing stormwater storage capacity
- more stringent water quality standards prior to any discharge from the site
We are investigating the incident and will consider regulatory action if breaches of the environment protection legislation are found.
As part of the investigation, our officers have done multiple inspections, collected water and other samples to determine the ecological impact on the creek.
Results from water samples taken from Camp Gully Creek and the confluence with Hacking River indicate there is no risk to human health.
We have commenced a review of Metropolitan Collieries’ environment protection licence. The review will focus on implementing measures to enhance monitoring and improve environmental practices at the site including around water management and discharges.
The current licence (no. 767) can be viewed in the public register.
The community has the opportunity to contribute to the review. We invite submissions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by 3 February 2023.
Community questions answered
Why is there no containment in place to prevent coal material moving downstream?
As the particles of coal material are extremely small they become suspended in the water column and move with the flowing water. Containment methods such as booms and sediment fencing are designed to retain material floating on the water or material with larger particle size. Thus these methods would be ineffective in this incident due to the size of the particles.
Water gates cannot be used as this would stop all water flow and cause flooding.
Is there an update on the testing carried out by the EPA?
The samples taken by the EPA are being analysed for a range of substances to understand the environmental impact.
Results from water samples taken from Camp Gully Creek and the confluence with Hacking River, including heavy metals and nutrients, indicate there is no risk to human health.
Further laboratory analysis is underway.