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22/04 - Gold miner polluting creek, says author French

Author Jackie French

Author Jackie French

Unity Mining is either unaware or underplaying another discharge of pollution from its gold mine development into surrounding creeks at Majors Creek, east of Canberra, says a downstream landholder.

Author Jackie French said it was the third time the creek, which runs through her property, had been polluted.

''The loud sound of frogs all along the Majors Creek conservation area and our property has vanished,'' Ms French said.

An EPA officer was on site at Majors Creek on Sunday assessing the latest discharge.

A Unity Mining spokesman said the mine was not dismissive or trying to underplay the discharge, but could not rule out as a cause Palerang Council's roadworks nearby. ''Obviously if it is ours, that is regrettable and not good enough,'' he said.

He said the mine was never meant to be a zero discharge site.

He said the Environmental Protection Authority had been happy with work done since issuing a clean-up notice from a previous discharge, which polluted Spring Creek and Majors Creek.

Ms French said Southern Rivers Catchment Management Authority had organised an indigenous workshop in the area on Saturday and participants had confirmed the latest pollution, which followed 30 millimetres of rain over a 10-hour period from Friday.

''The matter entering Majors Creek this time appears to be mostly top soil,'' she said. ''It is dropping onto the creek faster than the clay suspension of the two previous pollution events, and appears to have far lower persistence.

''The event has been severe enough, however, to apparently kill all amphibians and fish, as while many were visible on Friday, the creek was barren at 3pm on Saturday.''

Ms French said Unity had emailed landholders at 3pm on Saturday, long after the pollution had reached their property and household water system. ''The email alleged that the spill was minor, and was not likely to pollute beyond the boundaries of the project,'' Ms French said.

''This is inaccurate. The pools to two kilometres downstream were black, the water four kilometres downstream still strongly coloured.''

At 5.05pm on Saturday dark matter was still seeping from Spring Creek into Major's Creek.

Unity said another member of the mine's community consultation committee, who lived downstream from Ms French, had reported no evidence of a discharge

Unity Mining is developing a $90 million gold mine and said previously sediment and water controls were compliant and the company was working to prevent spills.

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