The Department of Environment and Science is investigating a complaint about an alleged unlawful pumping station at BMI’s New Chum site.
The Department of Environment and Science is investigating a complaint about an alleged unlawful pumping station at BMI’s New Chum site.

Government investigating mine void pumping complaint

THE State Government is investigating a complaint a waste company is pumping water out of an abandoned open cut mining void into an Ipswich creek.

The Department of Environment and Science confirmed it received a complaint on January 28 about an “alleged unlawful pumping station” on BMI Group’s New Chum site.

“The complaint also raised concerns that this may result in discharge from the void to Six Mile Creek,” a department spokesperson said.

“BMI hold an environmental authority for mining activities at this site.

“DES officers inspected the site on 29 January in response to the complaint.

“The matter is under investigation.”

An Ipswich City Council spokesman said an earlier inspection by council officers indicated the structure was “unlikely” to require council building approval.

“The process for the pumping came under department’s jurisdiction and was not regulated by council,” he said.

“Council has directed inquiries to the State Government’s Department of Environment and Science and the government’s pollution hotline.”

The complaint revolves around concerns the draining of the flooded underground mine workings on the site could cause significant damage to other abandoned mining tunnels across Ipswich and contaminate the creek and the Brisbane River.

Local residents fear draining the void will result in abandoned mining tunnels collapsing, including under nearby waste facilities.

BMI general manager Mark Dekker said the company has a licence to dewater the site.

“We have an industry leading autonomous water quality monitoring system so that if the water quality falls outside preset levels it automatically shuts down,” he said.

“We do laboratory testing as well. We got some results back last night. There’s zero contamination.

“We’ve provided that information to DES.

“We’re dropping (the water level in the void) by 10 metres.

“There’s a chance if rainfall kept falling it would have flowed over naturally and we couldn’t have had that.

“We had to have a controlled release. It has not bearing on any mine shaft.”

Mr Dekker said the company conducts testing at a cost of about $3000 a month.

Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.



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