Doctors warn of mining threat to Sydney’s water

Posted 29 September 2017

Coxs River
Advocates for more stringent regulation around mining and water releases have been joined by Doctors for the Environment Australia, with one Bowenfels surgeon speaking out about the importance of environmental protection for human health. 

In August, the Supreme Court ruled invalid the NSW Government’s approval of the extension of the Springvale coal mine, a decision supported by Upper Mountains Medical Centre Doctor Richard Stiles. 

The ruling was due to untreated waste being pumped by the coal mine into the Coxs River, which flows into Lake Burragoran – an area accounting for 80% of Sydney’s drinking water.

“Doctors for the Environment see a clear interconnection between environmental health and human health. That’s why it’s good to have laws that aim to protect drinking water quality, which have pleasingly been upheld in the court,” Stiles told the Lithgow Mercury.

“The interpretation and application of those laws should not be eroded by industrial lobbying.” 

Stiles said while it is difficult to link specific chemical irregularities with particular health issues, it is clear when comparing Australia’s drinking water to other countries’ that water quality is important to human health. 

“We do have to aim for fairly clean quality guidelines because clean drinking water is a very basic element of human health,” he said. 

“In countries where water quality is compromised it becomes one strand of human illness.”

Stiles said he has little sympathy for the mining company responsible for the releases into the Coxs River, as they should be held responsible for putting drinking water quality at risk.

“I am aware of the challenges the court case poses for the state’s electricity supply but Centennial have known about the regulatory requirements for at least two years and now that time is up they are requesting urgent special processes to be put in place,” he said. 

“If they were honorable corporate citizens they would have already had plans in place to meet the laws before PAC said you need to have a desalination plant.

“I think they are making a big song about the position they are in but it’s their own position, the PAC allowed them to keep polluting the Coxs River for two years and they’ve done nothing to address it.”
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