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Cataract River, NSW
Pollution and subsidence from longwall coal mining

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A Short History
  • In 1994 the Bargo river bed cracked.

  • In 1996 the Cataract river bed cracked and the water disappeared, methane/ethane gas escaped and iron oxide bacterial pollution started.

  • In 2000, Jutts Crossing on the Georges River at Appin cracked and the water in the rock pools disappeared.

  • In 2001, further up the Georges river cracked and rock falls were reported.

  • In 2001 the Douglas Park bridge moved as a result of the mining.

  • In 2001 the Broughton Pass Dam sustained cracking.

  • In 2002 Marhnyes Hole in the Georges River cracked and water disappeared.


In the mid 90's the Cataract River flow totally disappeared into the cracking in the river bed to a depth of some 500 metres into the mine workings and methane and ethane gasses were expelled from the ground measuring up to 20 litres per second in some areas. TV reports showed at the time that the gas was sufficient to BBQ sausages on.

It smelt and was responsible for increases in the soil temperatures measured at 40 degrees on two house block size areas. Here all the vegetation died, and there were rock falls, which continue today.

The dam wall of Broughtons Pass has cracked in four places and leaks across half its face. The pump house adjoining the weir was also damaged. The Nepean tunnel and the Upper Canal are also cracked. The extent of water loss from these is unknown. Monitoring by the DMR and the SCA is inadequate (TEC submission to Dendrobium COI, p. 7). The TEC submission points out that the damaged Broughtons Pass Weir controls 20% of Sydney's water supply and "in this condition the weir could fail during a minor earthquake or a major flood . . ." (p.9).


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Related Links

Rivers SOS - a coalition of environmental / community groups / bushwalking clubs.