The operator of Yallourn’s waterlogged brown coal mine cut has been granted a 60 per cent increase to its water discharge allowance by the Environment Protection Authority.
The works approval, granted earlier last month, will allow the rate of water being pumped from its open cut, which acts as a water catchment, into the adjacent Latrobe River, to increase from 50 to 80.5 megalitres per day.
Maximum allowed daily flows will increase from 140 to 150 megalitres per day.
While the increase will be subject to weekly monitoring of soluble copper and zinc in water discharges – known metal components of brown coal – an environmental observer has criticised the approval as not going far enough.
“The EPA should have required Yallourn to look at other alternatives, such as a mine re-configuration …the EPA is supposed to ensure companies avoid pollution, instead they are letting them use the Latrobe as a sewer,” Environment Victoria’s Mark Wakeham said.
In March, Yallourn power station owner operator EnergyAustralia said all water pumped into the Morwell River was treated to meet quality standards set by the EPA, and was comparable to river water quality.