NATURAL VALUES: Environmental groups say the port of Abbot Pt is surrounded by wetlands and coral reefs
NATURAL VALUES: Environmental groups say the port of Abbot Pt is surrounded by wetlands and coral reefs Contributed

Mining giant refutes cyclone cover up claims

MINING giant Adani has "categorically denied" claims it had been attempting to bury information around its management of contaminated water at Abbot Point during Cyclone Debbie.

It comes after secret documents, released to Mackay Conservation Group, suggested Adani and the state government knew polluted water it planned to release into sensitive wetlands as the cyclone rolled in last year would likely be up to nine times more than allowed.

A string of emails released to the environment group, after a 15-month long freedom of information tussle with Adani, show the mining company knew the coal-laden water it was to discharge from its overflowing storage pools at Abbot Point would breach the permit.

Adani had approached the Environment Department for a Temporary Emissions Licence, allowing it to discharge polluted water into Caley Wetlands, as Cyclone Debbie was about to reach the coast. The wetlands are adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area.

Adani was granted the TEL on March 27, but at the eleventh hour indicated to the Department that the permit would not be enough.

The TEL allowed for water concentrated with 100mg of coal per litre to be discharged, but Adani indicated the water would have at least 500mg of coal per litre up to 900mg of coal per litre.

A government staffer indicated it would update the TEL if given a "little detail". The extra information was sent by Adani at 5pm the next day, hours after the cyclone had crossed the coast and a second permit was issued.

Adani was fined $12,190 for spilling contaminants out of Abbot Point, out of a possible $2.7 million. The company has vehemently denied any wrong doing from the beginning.

"Adani was simply concerned that certain content requested by the Mackay Conservation Group under Right to Information provisions would not be read in the full context of the situation, and may be selectively used to attempt to damage Adani," the mining company said in a statement.

"We fully co-operated with the regulator and are confident we have complied with all environmental requirements of the TEL."