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The underground mine water flows into the Wingecarribee from this single drainage pipe – currently dispensing 2.6 megalitres, or about an Olympic swimming pool – each day.

"Toxic water from old mine entering Sydney’s drinking catchment, research warns"

Millions of litres of highly toxic water are escaping from a derelict coal mine into Sydney’s drinking water catchment, according to new scientific research.

Dr Ian Wright, one of Australia’s leading water scientists, tested waste water from the derelict Berrima Colliery and said pollution levels are the highest he’s ever seen.

"I’ve been studying coal mines and water pollution associated with coal mines for nearly 20 years in the Sydney basin," he said.

"This is the worst. And it’s counterintuitive, to many, to me indeed, that the mines shut down and the pollution has got worse."

Dr Wright said the contamination was "internationally significant", with heavy metals in the Wingecarribee River far exceeding safe environmental levels.

Levels of zinc are especially high — more than 120 times the normal baseline level.

The mine's owners, Boral, declined a request for interview, but told the ABC the company is aware of Dr Ian Wright's work and have cooperated with him to provide data and assistance.

"We will now consider his findings, but note that from our initial review they do not appear to accord with other monitoring conducted downstream of his sampling points and as a result, will likely contradict other recent independent research commissioned by Boral," a Boral spokesperson said.

"This is something Boral will consider further as part of the development of its final closure plans."

The mine is currently under "care and maintenance" provisions and Boral are in the process of seeking approval to rehabilitate and abandon the mine.

Key Report Findings:

Median concentrations of nickel (430 ug/L), manganese (12667 ug/L) and zinc (1400 ug/L) are at extremely high levels

89% of aquatic insects sampled in the vicinity of discharge have been wiped out (Ephemeropetera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera species)

Overall pollution has increased despite the mine’s closure in 2013

Other contaminants include high levels of acidity, salinity, iron and sulfates.

Proficiency Testing Australia (PTA) provides Waters (Chemical) proficiency testing program which has run since 1992 and Sea Waters proficiency testing program.

The next eight rounds Waters (Chemical) programs are expected to be:
I) Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium
ii) Bromide, Chloride, Fluoride, Iodide
iii) Metals (Aluminium, Barium, Bismuth, Boron, Lithium, Manganese, Silver, Strontium)
iv) Total Recoverable Oil and Grease
v) Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen, Total Phosphorus
vi) Metals (Arsenic, Mercury, Selenium)
vii) Sulphate, Conductivity, pH, Turbidity, Colour
viii) Total Solids, Total Suspended Solids, Total Dissolved Solids

For more information about the above two waters PT programs, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
             

RESOURCES: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-21/toxic-water-entering-sydneys-drinking-catchment-warning/8824650
PHOTO: The underground mine water flows into the Wingecarribee from this single drainage pipe – currently dispensing 2.6 megalitres, or about an Olympic swimming pool – each day. (ABC News: Greg Miskelly)