A Queensland environmental protection officers warning has been issued over the dangers posed by mercury, lead and arsenic contamination in some mining areas.
Key points:The Environment Protection and Forestry Department (EPA) issued a warning to all Queensland mine operators and owners on Wednesday over the threat of mercury contamination in coal seam gas (CSG) minesThe EPA has issued a notice of intent to prosecute those who fail to limit pollution levels for mercury, arsenic and other contaminants in CSG minesKey points EPA has warned that mercury, cadmium and arsenic pollution can lead to death and health problemsThe Queensland EPA said a mercury contamination warning was issued in response to a spate of toxic releases from coal seam mines across the state, which is estimated to contain 1.7 million tonnes of mercury, Cadmium, Lead and arsenic.
“The risks are not limited to the coal seam, the mercury contamination is widespread, and poses catastrophic consequences for local communities and the wider Queensland environment,” the EPA said in a statement.
“If you are in a coal seam mine and you have found a significant amount of mercury in your area, the EPA urges you to stop immediately.”
The agency said that “significant” concentrations of mercury were found in the Queensland mining industry.
“Mercury contamination is a risk to people who have occupational health and safety concerns, such as those who work in coal-fired power stations or in coal mines,” the agency said.
“While some of the concentrations of contaminants found in CSGs have been reported to the EPA, we cannot rule out that some mercury levels are higher than what has been reported.”
The EPA said the “significant concentrations” of mercury that were found at the mines were found because of “large scale mining”.
“Some of the mercury was detected in a small number of CSGs at a particular site and may have been present for several years,” the statement said.
The agency warned that the mercury could “cause health effects such as death and severe developmental disabilities”.
The mercury in the CSGs is not only toxic to people, but also to animals.
“This type of mercury is highly toxic and is not absorbed into the body,” the agencies statement said, adding that there was “no known antidote for this type of toxic metal”.
“It can be dangerous for people to ingest and it is particularly dangerous to people with compromised immune systems.”
The Queensland Government is expected to announce the next phase of its state-wide CSG mine moratorium by the end of the month.
The Queensland government will announce a new phase of CSG mining moratorium on Wednesday.
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