ALARM: A chemical spill at New Chum, next to a large mining void where BMI has proposed to establish a new landfill.
ALARM: A chemical spill at New Chum, next to a large mining void where BMI has proposed to establish a new landfill.

'Explosive material': Chemical spill under investigation

A CHEMICAL spill beside the proposed super dump site is under investigation.

The State Government launched an investigation after the leak of the substance at New Chum.

Photos sent to the QT show the chemical leaking onto the ground below a series of tanks.

Those photos are time-stamped April 1.

One photo shows the chemical running towards a water-filled mining void that feeds into the Six Mile Creek catchment.

The tanks are owned by Sun Mining Pty Ltd, which said it had also launched an investigation into the incident.

The leaked substance is called Wala Gel. It's an explosive material considered dangerous but non-toxic, however, can be detrimental if allowed to flow into waterways, or exposed to sunlight for extended periods of time.

On April 7, vacuum trucks and an on-site water source were used by Sun Mining to clean up the site.

The Environment Department was not made aware of the spill until April 13, after a member of the public raised the alarm.

According to Sun Mining, the leak was caused by an "unauthorised person" who entered the yard between 6pm on April 6 and 10am the next day.

Environment Department officers, who visited the site on April 13, said initial investigations suggested the Wala Gel had not leaked into the water-filled mine site.

A Department spokesperson confirmed investigators were not notified until after the company had cleaned up.

"Officers were notified on April 13, and attended the site within 3 hours," the spokesperson said.

"DES officers observed a quantity of liquid on the ground but noted from initial observations it was contained and did not appear to leak into the water-filled mine site nearby.

"The department is investigating how much of the chemical leaked and what impact the spill has had on the environment.

"Based on initial investigations and information provided there is no immediate safety risk as the substance is contained and shouldn't cause any harm for members of the public."

Sun Mining - based at Heathwood - told the QT it was still reviewing the facts but that the spill occurred as a result of an "unauthorised release of water, fertilizer and thickener, a non-toxic substance" following an unauthorised entry to the yard.

It said this had been reported to Queensland Police, however, police had no record a report relating to an incident on April 6 or 7.

"Sun is working closely with local and state authorities as they conduct an investigation into the incident, which may take time," the Sun Mining spokesperson said.

"As part of that investigation, Sun is also conducting its own review of this incident and will keep relevant authorities informed.

"It is important to note that the incident did not present, or result in, serious danger to the public."


Fears over water used by community gardeners

GARDENER Gillian Lynn was relieved to hear no chemicals were believed to have leaked into the Six Mile Creek catchment area.

She works in a community garden, spread across 30 acres close to the site, that relies solely on the creek for water.

Vegetables grown in the garden support a large number of people in the Redbank community who harvest the crop to share and eat.

Chickens are also raised in the garden.

"We don't want to be watering our garden with water affected by toxins," Ms Lynn said.

"The chickens drink the creek water too so any potential chemical leak is a concern."

Ms Lynn, who has been working the garden for 14 years, is also concerned about the proposed BMI landfill.

She does not want the dump to go ahead.

"We rely on that water and the people who garden here rely on the vegetables to eat.

"We're very concerned about the super dump going ahead."