Update on Nickel Waste Spill into the Reef.


reef pic

Following up on my article regarding the ‘Unforeseen Danger to the Reef‘ [said with all due sarcasm] due to the possible dangers of the toxic nickel waste overflowing into the reef it is my sad duty to inform you that it may already be too late.  The stretch of the Queensland Coast around Townsville received between 200 mm and 300 mm of rain in the past week, according to the Bureau of Meteorology.

More importantly we have been informed, courtesy of the report Mr Powell [Qld’s environmental minister] gave to the press yesterday that:

We were advised yesterday that the tailings dam is at full capacity,and with the wind and wave action that is generated, there may have been that it has over-topped.

 

The very fact that they Queensland government appears to be taking this seriously and is in a way distancing itself from the potential debacle shows that the situation may be even graver than we think.  This government has been a staunch supporter of Abbott’s campaign to allow dredging and dumping in the reef using the argument that as it is the size of the UK and Ireland combined just using part of it shouldn’t be an issue.

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Clive Palmer – advised in February his ponds were not enough to withstand the Qld rainy season

This of course completely ignores the fact that it is IN THE FREAKIN WATER and as such contaminants spread at a rate that would be almost unstoppable and it is not something that can be partitioned – unlike the minds of some of this countries representatives.

A spokesman for Mr Palmer who is the CEO of Queensland Nickel [and a member of parliament] said

there were “other facilities” where material in the tailings dam “could be pumped to….He said the dam’s capacity had been increased since February and as of yesterday, there was nothing leaking.


My question in response to that very carefully worded statement is how about BEFORE yesterday.  Had anything leaked prior to this and what is being done to ameliorate the effect of the very toxic nature of the waste and its impact on the Reef. Mr Palmer’s company was warned early this year and we have recently been informed by Mr Powell that they were told they would face a one point one million dollar fine should they fail to address the safety issues raised in February.  

clive palmerWhile I appreciate the concept of the fine I would like  to point out that to a company such as this it is really the equivalent of a parking ticket and not something that they would take seriously.  There are no strictures in place that makes them legally responsible for the damage that could be caused or the clean that may be needed and in that I see a terrible lack of foresight or just plain corruption at the time the permits were issued.

Once again I would ask that you share this with others so that more and more people are aware of the need to put a halt to this blatant disregard for one the Great Natural Wonders of the World before it is too late.

21 thoughts on “Update on Nickel Waste Spill into the Reef.

  1. Is it just me or are elected officials and government folks just suddenly oblivious the moment they don the suits? we face a similar problem here with oil pipes running through some sensitive natural habitats. :-/

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    • I thinks it’s the sense of entitlement that makes them arrogant and think of those outside their immediate circle as less or unworthy.

      Fools are destroying what cannot be repaired and they know it – I’m sure they do – they just don’t care.

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      • It makes me so angry – service to your community has been so corrupted. My mother was a politician [a conservative one but has now left the dark side] and I have never in all my life known someone who worded as hard as she did.

        When a corruption inquiry was held for all Qld pollies they actually found out that they owed her from about $10000 unclaimed travel. She just said to forget the money and issue a VERY clear statement clearing her of any involvement.

        She was made a cabinet minister at a later date and her workload increased again. Even now when she is no longer a politician she works with numerous groups such as the Abused Child Trust and Lady Mushgrave trust both of which assist victims of domestic violence and homelessness along with countless others.

        The politicians I see today don’t know the meaning of the word serve. Mum said something to me when I was very young that stayed with me – politicians aren’t there to have power over their electorate they are the servants to their constituents, all of them not just those who backed you or voted for you, that is their role.

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      • I’ve got one or two [oh hell an entire barrel] quirks to my character that don’t usually allow elicit an emotional response to things but one big trigger is steadfast denial to facts.

        It confuses me how they can explain away the whole concept of fossil fuels being finite and damaging and try to poke fun at ‘clean energy’. I don’t like being confused it pisses me off and as such so does this whole issue.

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    • There are 9 different types of marine turtles left in the world at this point and the Reef is home to 6 of them, not to mention countless organisms that are found no where else. I just don’t understand how they could risk it.

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  2. So the rains caused the dam holding back the nickel production waste to flood into the Great Reef… Unbelievable… In the state of Idaho they have an abandoned cooper pit that is filling with rain water. It will reach overflow in 2024. Pure cyanide laced water will flood Boise Idaho and they have no way to stop it..

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    • Does no government or company understand the concept of long term planning and contingency plans -Argh!! Little ticked at the moment with the whole bunch of them.

      How was work?

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      • Usual fun… Different scenery…. Ok enlighten me.. Can you see the Great Barrier Reef from standing on the shore… I’ve seen maps and tv shows about the reef but can you actually look out and say… There’s the reef… It’s 6:12 am on Monday here..

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      • 11.20 pm Tuesday here. Glad you at least got to look at different scenery, it sounded as if it would be a bit hard with your car not having aircon.

        So for the Reef – In places yes, especially on the Whitsunday Islands but I can from hear at the Northern Beaches or Slade Point.

        There are trips you can take on glass bottomed boats that go offshore a little way and you can see directly down into the reef. The water is so clear in places [for the time being] you can look down and think its only one or two meters but it’s actually hundreds.

        My favorite place is Butterfly Cove for snorkeling and I love Whitehaven. There is a beach there called 1 mile beach [guess why 🙂 ] where the sand is so white and the water so crystal clear that you can burn so quickly if you forget to reapply sunscreen. I’ve traveled nearly all over the world – not the US oddly and I know it’s biased on my part but I still think Australia is so utterly beautiful and unique in ways most can’t really grasp unless you live here.

        I’m so worried at the moment that we are in danger of losing a great deal of what makes us ‘The Lucky Country’ [nickname for OZ, don’t know where it sprung from but I think it stems to the gold rush days]

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      • I see those documentary shows about the reef and the sea snakes of the reef… And great white sharks… Can’t they divert the poisonous waters to some place in the desert? Or is it too late…?

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      • The desert is about 6 to 7 thousand km or more inland and plus it has it’s own pretty unique ecosystem [I don’t think the indigenous groups who own that area would be chuffed with the idea of Ayers rock being eroded by nickel waste] though it was a good thought.

        Hopefully it was a minor spill and can be dealt with in a way that does the least damage but I’m pretty sure we won’t get the whole story which is why I have a friend of mine up north doing a bit of digging around.

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      • What a great post for Earth Day! I just wrote one about salt water levels rising… They just said due to jet pattern changes we on the west coast will have wetter warmer winters and on the east coast colder drier winters…. Not good!

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  3. That’s bad news about the nickel tailings pond. Inroducing heavy metals into the environment is nasty, nasty stuff. As you pointed out Jenni, it’s even worse when it lands in the water as there is no way to stop or address the spill. The damage is done and some of it so long term that the outcome is unpredictable. And, to make matters worse, unlike biological or much chemical contamination or even radioactive contamination, heavy metal concentrations do not decrease with time in living organisms . In fact they are cumulative and each system they affect has a tipping point , after which the system irretrievably collapses. Because of the food chain structure, the metals never pass out – they are passed along as each organism dies and is eaten by other organisms. In humans, it’s insidious. Even intermittent exposure to heavy metals will result in huge internal damage that can only be treated with chelating agents. Heavy metals cannot be naturally removed from living systems.

    I find it atrocious that companies are not forced to factor decommisioning or clean-up costs into operating costs. This is typical and is the elephant under the table when it comes to mining, industrial activities and utilities. I cannot understand how they are allowed to get away with it. Any activity that could or does affect the environment or health should be required to set aside funds in an escrow that is ony accessible for closing/cleanup purposes. And continue to do so as long as they operate with regular assessments of risk and associated funds. Here in Ontario (the most populous province in Canada) a considerable amount of our power requirements are met by using nuclear power. Private companies operate the reactors and sell power to various utilities. They do not include the decommisioning costs for the reactors in their costing structure. Sooner or later, those reactors will be too old to operate and will cost billions of public money to decommission. Meanwhile, the companies continue to pocket profits and will until they can legally walk away from the mess they will leave.

    My point, Jenni, is that the environmental carelessness you observe in Australia is repeated all around the world. Of course, the loss of the reef is a huge negative outcome of these actions – outcomes that are not repairable.

    Thank you for your timely and well witten post. You have educated me in matters of which I was unaware.

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    • I think it is a global issue – this sense of entitlement that companies and governments have that allow them to think they can take, damage and then walk away. It is a serious issue you have there and one that will be a problem in the future as you said.

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