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11/03 - Creek threat: a hard rain and mine spill.

Owner of Wisbey's Orchards in Araluen Robyn Clubb concerned about the environmental impact of the Goldmine near Major's Creek.

Owner of Wisbey's Orchards in Araluen Robyn Clubb concerned about the environmental impact of the Goldmine near Major's Creek.

It's mid-morning on the banks of Majors Creek near Araluen, and the only noise likely to disturb orchardist Robyn Clubb and her dogs comes from squabbling crimson parrots in the casuarinas above them.

Dragonflies skim over the wind-ruffled water while pardalotes and silvereyes can be heard in the distance, above the croaking of frogs.

Heavy rainfall turns the creek into a raging torrent. Its fury is equal to the anger that erupted in the Araluen district and downstream in Eurobodalla Shire when construction on a goldmine upstream discharged sediment into the catchment.

In one angry email exchange, a shire officer said the mine's description of the discharge being an inconvenience was ''offensive''.

''Uncontrolled discharges of sediment-laden stormwater is not an inconvenience, but an event that could have been avoided,'' he said.

A coalition of farmers and environmentalists warned during the Dargues Reef mine's planning that proponents had under-estimated rainfall, mistakenly relying on Braidwood's rainfall, which was 20 per cent less than Majors Creek's.

Mrs Clubb said extremely heavy rain, such as the 110 millimetres that fell in 45 minutes on one occasion in 2010, was not unusual, because of the influence of coastal weather and the surrounding mountains.

Nor was the rain that triggered the latest deluge and spillage into the creek, which is being investigated by the Environmental Protection Authority.

EPA spokesman Gary Whytcross said legal investigations were complex and the authority had 12 months to consider whether to prosecute. The decision would be made public.

Mrs Clubb said the Araluen Valley Agricultural Producers and Protectors of the Ecosystem Coalition would be meeting Unity Mining's chief executive, Andrew McIllwain, to set out their concerns.

''He says his track record shows a high standard, we're hopeful that we won't have to worry. We're hoping for a clean sheet and integrity. That would be a good start.''

The coalition previously battled Cortona Resources during the planing stages, before the Perth-based gold company merged with Unity Mining.

Mrs Clubb said that, although the coalition was mislead previously on issues, its submissions - and the Environmental Defenders Office - had made headway and had achieved tighter conditions for the tailings dam, including raising a retaining wall and creating a channel outside the wall.

Mrs Clubb said rainfall data submitted to planners seemed to disappear into the ether.

Following the spillage, the coalition hoped the EPA would revisit the tailings dam's capacity in extreme rain.

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