Toxic wastewater dumped in Great Barrier Reef park
A nickel refinery owned by the Australian mining magnate and MP, Clive Palmer, has released toxic waste-water into the Great Barrier Reef marine park several times over the past 5 years despite being forbidden from doing so by the Park's authority. According to an article in the Guardian, Queensland Nickel (located 20km north of Townsville), had requested to discharge toxic waste water in order to avoid tailing ponds overflowing in heavy rains. Clive Palmer was reported saying “If the water is not released there’s an 8% risk the ponds will collapse and cancer-causing tailings will spill into Townsville waterways. If we close it down and leave the dams there, they’re going to burst and children are going to die.”
However, requests to discharge the waste-water were rejected by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), who demanded the outflow pipe be removed within two years. GBRMPA commented on the company's proposal to discharge wastewater into the park continuously for at least three months in 2012. “This discharge on to the reef would be similar to the daily discharge of treated sewage from a city of seven million people”. The water was said to have nitrogen levels at least 100 times the allowed maximum level as well as heavy metals and other contaminants.
Despite permits for the discharge being rejected by the GBRMPA, Queensland Nickel discharged the toxic water anyway, and no civil or criminal proceedings were taken against the company.
It was reported that government emails have revealed Queensland Nickels displeasure at the GBRMPA's resistance to the company's operations. According to the GBRMPA, Queensland Nickel has “threatened a compensation claim of $6.4bn should the GBRMPA intend to exert authority over the company’s operations”.
Larissa Waters, Greens senator commented on the situation “If Clive Palmer can afford ads for himself on prime time TV, he can afford to clean up his businesses rather than letting them pollute the reef...Instead, he has threatened to sue the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority if they pursue him for illegally dumping toxic pollution into the Reef. Mr Palmer needs to stop thinking of the reef like it’s his own personal waste dump.”
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