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By national environment, science and technology reporter Michael Slezak Updated about 2 hours ago Road sign stating private access to Abbot Point terminal. PHOTO: Documents obtained under freedom of information laws reveal details about the Abbot Point reef spill. (Four Corners: Stephen Long) RELATED STORY: Before and after: Wetlands near Abbot Point Coal Terminal turn blackRELATED STORY: Adani faces possible fine over Abbot Point sediment water dischargeRELATED STORY: Adani fined $12k over Abbot Point environmental breach Adani has been fighting to hide details of what it told the Queensland Government about the risk of pollution to the Great Barrier Reef ahead of Cyclone Debbie in 2017. Key points: FOI documents appear to show Adani, Queensland Government knew polluted spill likely to breach licenced levels Adani applied for temporary licence to pollute wetlands as Cyclone Debbie rolled in after realising potential for overflow Environmental NGO said: "They knew they would break the law, and they did it anyway" Now, conservationists say documents and a series of emails obtained through freedom of information laws appear to show the company and the Queensland Government knew the pollution would be so bad it would break the law. The details are revealed in an exchange over the company's temporary pollution licence and it starts on March 27, 2017.
On the wet and blustery morning, Queenslanders were making sure their loved ones were safe. Cyclone Debbie — what would become the most dangerous storm to hit Queensland since 2011 — was quickly approaching the coast. That day, Adani was preparing too. It was seeking a temporary licence to pollute wetlands around its coal export terminal at Abbot Point near Bowen with coal-laden water. Documents uncovered using freedom of information laws show that morning, Adani realised the large amount of rain falling into its storage pools would likely cause them to overflow onto important wetlands next door to the site. Satellite imagery released a few months later shows the wetlands covered in polluted water after the storm. The ABC can now reveal the content of those documents, including a section Adani has fought for the past year to keep secret. That section suggests that later on March 27, while Adani was applying for a lastminute extension to its temporary pollution licence, it appeared to know the water it was likely to dump would be so polluted it would breach the licence.As rain and wind was bearing down on the town of Bowen, and forecasters warned of Debbie's impending landfall, Adani received its temporary pollution licence. But, at the last minute, late that afternoon, Adani realised its application for permission to pollute the wetland was not enough. It would also likely dump polluted water directly into the ocean and into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. "Sorry I just noticed W2 wasn't included in the [temporary emissions licence], is it possible to include this location?" an Adani employee wrote in an email to the Queensland Environment Department that afternoon. The department quickly indicated that would not be a problem: "Just give me a little detail and we can include and update [the temporary emissions licence]," a department staff member replied.The email chain shows about 5:00pm on the following day — hours after Cyclone Debbie had crossed the coast — Adani sent that extra information to the department. Among the documents were also details the company then fought tooth and nail to hide because Adani said it would "cause extreme and unfair prejudice" against it. On the other side of the battle was the Mackay Conservation Group, who applied for the documents under freedom of information laws back in April 2017. The small environmental NGO has a big history of fighting Adani. Mackay Conservation Group successfully overturned the first federal approval for Adani's Carmichael coal mine in 2015. "We were quite curious as to why there had been two temporary emissions licences issued," the group's Peter McCallum said.
"We were curious as to what the timing was and why subsequent to the cyclone crossing the coast, the licence was amended." So the group applied to get the documents under Queensland Right to Information laws.Wilful breach 'likely to be a live issue' At the heart of Adani's extreme reluctance to allow the documents to be released is the fact the company was fined for the pollution they did release. The Queensland Government said Adani admitted to breaching its licence, spilling polluted water into the Marine Park that was 800 per cent dirtier than was allowed. Adani told the ABC it challenged that interpretation and that "no breach occurred", but details the company fought to keep secret appear to suggest it knew it would breach the licence it was applying for and the Queensland Government knew too. According to lawyers from the Queensland Environmental Defenders' Office, this means the breach of the licence could be a much more serious matter. "Under Queensland law, a wilful breach of a temporary emissions licence can occur if it was reckless or as a result of gross negligence. "Given the recently released RTI documents include an email from Adani staff demonstrating knowledge of the sump contaminant concentrations, and that it appears Adani did not treat the water prior to the discharge, wilfulness is likely to be a live issue for any prosecution decision." Government is 'letting them get away with it' In one email to the department, when seeking permission to release polluted water from the second location, Adani outlined how polluted that water was likely to be. And it turns out it was likely to be up to 900 per cent more polluted than would be allowed under the terms of the licence the company was seeking. Despite applying for a licence to spill water into the ocean with up to 100 mg of coal per litre, in emails to the department, Adani revealed the water that would spill was likely to be up to 900 mg per litre. Adani told the department: "Releases from this location are small in volume however the [total suspended solids] is always greater than 30mg/L (approx between 500+ to 900 from memory!) as this location is actually a sump and prior to any treatment process (a historical legacy discharge location)." Mr McCallum said: "It shows they knew they would break the law, and they did it anyway." But the released information also casts a shadow on the conduct of the department ahead of the spill, he said. "What it shows is that both the Government and Adani were aware that there was very high chance of the breach of their licence during the cyclone, that could lead to the pollution of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area," Mr McCallum said. "Adani is wilfully managing its site in a way that could damage the environment and the Government is letting them get away with it."
The Queensland Department of Environment declined to comment to the ABC. Adani 'categorically deny any wrongdoing' A group of about 20 protesters stand with signs that read "stop Adani". PHOTO: In Mackay, protesters shouted "stop Adani, that's an order, we are sick of coal pollution, solar and wind are the solution". (ABC News: Lara Webster) In fighting the release of the details, Adani claimed it would exacerbate "ongoing public vitriol". In submissions to the Queensland information commissioner, the company claimed it would pressure the department to be seen to be "cracking down" on Adani, and alleged the Government was "conferring" with environmental groups. Adani claimed the information would cause "extreme and unfair prejudice to" Adani, in the dispute over its fine. But the acting commissioner found Adani's claims to be "wholly speculative in nature" and said there were not "real and substantial grounds" for those claims. Adani did not directly answer a series of questions put to them by the ABC, but did supply a statement. "We categorically deny any wrongdoing in this matter, we complied with the limits imposed by the Temporary Emissions Licence issued by the regulator and no breach occurred," the statement read. "We have elected to have the matter heard by a magistrate rather than pay a $12,000 fine, which should not have been issued in 2017 following Cyclone Debbie, and we look forward to resolution of the matter." Topics: coal, environment, environmental-impact, environmental-management, states-and-territories, company-news, mining-industry, great-barrier-reef, industry, business-economics-and-finance, mining-rural, rural, activism-and-lobbying, mining-environmental-issues, federal---state-issues, government-and-politics, australia, qld, bowen-4805, townsville-4810, mackay-4740, rockhampton-4700, brisbane-4000A Perth woman wiped away tears today as she pleaded guilty to being part of a child sex ring that involved the abuse of her young daughter by herself and two other men. Key points: Three people, a woman and two men, were charged over child sex abuse incidents linked to "swinging" sex parties They have all pleaded guilty to an initial string of charges connected to the abuse of the woman's 8-year-old daughter They are yet to plead to hundreds of additional charges laid by police a month after the initial charges The 39-year-old mother, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim, admitted a total of 17 charges including sexual penetration of a child under 13, indecent dealing with a child and indecently recording a child.
She was charged after a member of the public discovered a recording device which contained videos of the woman and the two men abusing the then 8-year-old girl. Police then set up a special taskforce, codenamed "Mirzam" to investigate allegations that the child had been abused during organised "swinging" sex parties.The men, one of whom was the child's 45-year-old stepfather, pleaded guilty to a string of charges earlier this year. The woman pleaded guilty when she appeared in the Perth Magistrates Court today via video link from Bandyup Prison. She spoke only to enter the guilty pleas and to say that she understood the charges against her. Two police officers walk outside a home in suburban Perth, carrying a large paper bag each. PHOTO: Taskforce Mirzam officers executed search warrants at six properties in Perth and regional WA as part of their investigation. (Supplied: WA Police) Hundreds of charges remain The trio are also facing hundreds of other child sex charges that were laid by police about a month after the initial charges, but they have not yet been required to plead to those counts. Today the woman's lawyer, Simon Freitag, said it had been decided with WA's Director of Public Prosecutions that the three should be sentenced as soon as possible for offences they have admitted, and once that was finalised the other charges would be reviewed. The woman was remanded in custody until she appears in the District Court next month, when a sentencing date may be set. First posted about an hour ago TOP STORIES The information Adani spent a year trying to hide 'Swinging' sex ring mother pleads guilty to abuse of daughter (photos) Live: Royal commission investigates IOOF's super conflicts of interest Emma Husar investigation finds staff subjected to unreasonable management Why are billions spent on foreign aid during drought? It 'keeps farmers alive' Man found dead on inner-city Sydney street Opinion: The Meg is a horror story but our treatment of sharks is scarier Man sentenced to 24 years' jail for murdering teen found in mineshaft Analysis: Donald Trump was on a 'working vacation' this week â€” but he couldn't escape Mueller States give conditional support to National Energy Guarantee, but more talks to come Argentina retains strict abortion laws by rejecting elective procedures Brrrrrr: Here's why you're shivering even though your phone tells you it's not that cold
Opinion: Turnbull trying to turn Husar story into Shorten narrative People say there's only one right way to pronounce GIF. They're wrong Homo erectus were too short-sighted and lazy to survive, research finds Analysis: With Abbott and the Greens on the same side, a golden moment in politics beckons Melania Trump's parents given citizenship under 'chain migration' rules Diggers and Dealers' informal corporate culture of skimpies taken to task at elite mining event 'Why I dropped out of school to become a CEO at 16' SPORT Leading golfers show their support for Jarrod Lyle at PGA Championship NASA is about to plunge a probe into the sun's atmosphere. Here's why Start a chat with ABC News on Facebook Messenger CONNECT WITH ABC NEWS ABC News on Facebook ABC News on Instagram ABC News on Twitter ABC News on YouTube ABC News on Apple News News Podcasts GOT A NEWS TIP? If you have inside knowledge of a topic in the news, contact the ABC. NEWS IN YOUR INBOX Top headlines, analysis, breaking alerts Email address Sign up More info ABC BACKSTORY ABC teams share the story behind the story and insights into the making of digital, TV and radio content. EDITORIAL POLICIES Read about our editorial guiding principles and the enforceable standard our journalists follow. FEATURES A man squatting down beside the wheel of a truck looking into the distance Drought's emotional toll With NSW now 100 per cent drought-declared, the big dry is taking its toll â€” both physically and mentally â€” for those on the land. Margot Robbie, left, congratulates Allison Janney. ABC News quiz Australia's population ticked over 25 million people this week, the CSIRO tested some very special cars and the Oscars announced some big changes. Let's see how much you can recall from the news this week.eg, a larger than life, 22-metre, toothsome monster, is only the latest in a long history of human representations of sharks.
Our fascination with these imagined monsters is apparently insatiable. But fictionalised versions, with their threatening fins, chomping jaws and general grudge against humanity, have tended to blind us to what is truly amazing about the sharks in our oceans. Confusing what we know about sharks in movies with what we know about real sharks is chiefly what has led to them being seen as pests that must be slaughtered. Historically, shark research has been underfunded, which is why so much mystery and so many myths have surrounded them. Yet we are beginning to realise just how crucial sharks are to the healthy oceans on which all human life depends. A man holds a small shark about the size of his hand. PHOTO: A dwarf lantern shark, probably the smallest species. (Supplied: Wikimedia) Sharks have lived on the planet for around 450 million years and proven to be extremely resilient in having survived, in various forms, all five mass extinctions. Their current challenge, however, is to survive the Anthropocene. Megalodon, or Carcharocles megalodon, was probably more closely related to a group of extinct sharks rather than the ancestor of today's great white sharks. It first appeared around 23 million years ago, roughly 42 million years after the extinction that wiped out the larger dinosaurs, and was last in evidence around 2.6 million years ago. Most taxonomists will agree that there are currently between 450 and 500 species of shark in our oceans. Some have evolved to survive at depths of 3,000 metres while others live much closer to the surface. Most can only survive in salt water, but the bull shark can also navigate in fresh water. They range from the 15-22 cm, krill-eating, dwarf lantern shark, among the smallest fish, to the 12-metre plankton-eating, whale shark, the largest fish of all. A large whale shark swims alongside much smaller fish off the West Australian coast, near Exmouth. PHOTO: Whale sharks are the world's largest fish and possibly the oldest. (ABC North West: Andrew Seabourne) Sharks are extraordinary and diverse creatures. They are tasked with maintaining a healthy balance in the oceans by keeping other fish and mammal populations in check, and by cleaning up dead and dying organisms from the 70 per cent of our planet that we still regard as a blue refuse bin. Yet with around 100,000,000 sharks being fished out of the oceans each year, it is perilous for us to ignore marine scientists' warnings of the devastating consequences of over-fishing. Large shark species can take years to reach sexual maturity, have slow reproductive cycles and produce only a few pups, which are highly vulnerable to larger oceanic predators. Sharks imagined
If sharks' vital contribution to the health of our planet has tended to be ignored, the evidence of their contribution to human culture is ubiquitous. Uses for sharks vary from weaponry to "pharmazooticals". Shark teeth have served as clubbed weapons, cutting tools and ceremonial and general ornaments; their fins as food, their skin as sandpaper, and their liver and cartilage as treatments for ailments from the common cold to cancer. Sharks have long been imagined and represented across the world's languages and cultures as a force to be reckoned with. An increasing body of archaeological and anthropological work testifies to the incorporation of sharks in Mayan culture, for instance, as part of its language system, in the representation of deities (with ritualised use of the teeth of sharks and even fossilised Megalodons), and in exquisite stone carvings depicting human and shark relationships. Australian Aboriginal cultures have long used sharks in their Dreamtime to explain natural phenomena such as the emergence and shape of rivers. Polynesian cultures honoured sharks as their ancestors in stories, songs and dances that are still remembered today. Whether of Mayan "xoc", German "sherk" or French "cherquier" origin, "shark" officially became an English word in 1569 in a brief, illustrated pamphlet. This described how a "marveilous straunge" creature caught in a mackerel fishing net was subsequently dissected, displayed and finally eaten by excited Londoners. Since then, there have been thousands of printed accounts of sharks: from short museum descriptions to exaggerated reports of monstrous attacks in newspapers to photos of bleeding trophy catches in fishing magazines. Poets have also been drawn to sharks. Andrew Marvell used shark teeth to describe crippling commodity taxes in his Last Instructions to a Painter (1667), while John Greenleaf Whittier chillingly described sharks as the partners of slave-traders as they waited beneath boats for the diseased and dead to be tossed overboard in The Slave Ships (1894). James Fenton's shark was the focus of a shared community supper in The Milkfish Gatherers (1993) and Carol Ann Duffy's shark was the central metaphor for being Jealous as Hell (1998).From the 16th century onwards, sharks have appeared in plays William Shakespeare used sharks in the Witches' toxic brew of Macbeth (1606), while William Congreve, (though not alone in this respect), used sharks to describe the theatre critics of his day in The Double Dealer (1693). In Joe Clifford's Every One (2010) the shark on the fish counter shouts out to Joe's conservation manifesto. Sharks have been prominent in visual art since John White's depictions of hammerheads helped to create the exotic landscapes of the North American Indians in his The Manner of Their Fishing (1585).
John Singleton Copley's Watson and the Shark (1778) remains the most famous shark painting, while Damien Hirst's The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991) puts sharks at the centre of the modern art controversy. Visual art has more usually depicted sharks and men in confrontation, although more recent conservation shark art by divers such as Wolfgang Leander has refreshingly challenged the dominant perception of sharks as monsters. The staple representation of sharks in novels has been that of the monstrous maneater, from R.M. Ballantyne's The Coral Island (1858) to Peter Benchley's Jaws (1974) which firmly fixed the great white shark as the villain. This misrepresentation of great white sharks found its way into the most powerful visual medium of all with Stephen Spielberg's Jaws (1975). The movie propelled this species of shark to stardom as the ultimate monster, and the ensuing slaughter of real sharks caused Peter Benchley to devote himself to shark conservation for the rest of his life. Shark attack Horrific shark attacks are usually written by screenwriters to excite audiences, but in real life there are some very unfortunate shark encounters every year. Often simplified by the media, fatal shark attacks are complex and many factors must be considered in each case. Since sharks use their mouths to test what is in their midst, it is thought that most non-fatal injuries are due to shark mistakes. We are usually made aware of them through on-line sharing sites such as YouTube or through on-line news reports. However, these are rarely without some form of framing device that influences the way we understand what we are being shown. When we do see someone being pulled off a surfboard or struggling out of the water with a wound, the reaction of those immediately involved is rarely that of the panicked screaming typical of movies. As any lifeguard will agree, physiologically, panicking is just about the most dangerous thing we can do when we are in difficulty in the ocean, shark or no shark. It is interesting to compare the recent encounter between a shark and the surfer Mick Fanning, as it happened, with the numerous reports that followed. Fanning was knocked off his board during the J-Bay Open in South Africa on 19 July, 2015 with the world's cameras trained on him. Media player: "Space" to play, "M" to mute, "left" and "right" to seek. Unprepared, journalists watched as Fanning pushed the shark off without any further trouble from it. Within moments, this encounter was being represented as a shark attack. An article in The Guardian ran with the headline "Mick Fanning battles shark attack at surfing competition: 'I'm just trippin'". According to Fanning's account in this
article, the shark didn't even show its teeth, but most likely got caught in his leg rope. Although viewers with Jaws on their minds might have been imagining a bloody spectacle as a fin came in with the wave, what was most impressive about that footage was the calmness with which Fanning dealt with the situation. All oceanic swimmers and surfers who pursue their sport at the surface of the water, where sharks are likely to be looking for something floating and dead, know that there are far greater dangers in lurking rocks and rip tides. They accept this as a condition of being in a wild environment. Of the 7.6 billion people on the planet, an average of six a year die following a negative shark encounter. The question remains: why are we so afraid of sharks? The obvious answer is because we have repeatedly misrepresented them as our enemies. Fear of the unknown, or unseen, fear of being attacked while off-guard, fear because humans are not in their natural element when in the ocean, fear of being eaten alive, fear of being reminded that there is something bigger and more powerful than us out there. These are all possibilities that screenwriters work with to make us scream at screens. But as you can see from the following footage, shot with a hand-held Go-Pro, although we are fascinated by sharks, they aren't really that interested in us. I started diving with sharks when photographer Wolfgang Leander persuaded me that I couldn't study sharks without getting wet. He was right. Certainly, being able to dive freely with the tiger sharks of the Bahamas is a privilege.
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Published on Aug 10, 2018
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