Malone fears Dee River's new hue

Farmer Neal Johansen says the river’s colour could be a warning of extreme pollution. This picture was taken 18km from Mt Morgan mine.
Farmer Neal Johansen says the river’s colour could be a warning of extreme pollution. This picture was taken 18km from Mt Morgan mine. Contributed

THERE are fresh calls for a full investigation into pollution in the Dee River and its potential to contaminate Rockhampton's drinking water.

Member for Mirani Ted Malone says he's concerned that the water's unnatural hue is a warning that there is something seriously wrong.

He wants a comprehensive inquiry into the pollution leaching into the Dee from the Mount Morgan mine site to identify if it is an environmental hazard.

Farmer Neal Johansen, chairman of the Wowan/Dululu Landcare Group, is in no doubt about the dangers.

His children, who are boarders at Rockhampton Grammar School, are under strict instructions from him to drink only bottled water.

“If you think we are over-reacting, go to the Dee River Bridge and look at the colour of the river. You will be horrified. People in Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast

will be yelling for a complete clean-up when they see it.”

Not only is the water a translucent blue-turquoise, a white aluminium precipitate is visible on the river bed.

“With controlled releases of highly contaminated mine water this year, as well as seepage offsite, the Dee is in a contemptible state. It is void of life and lined with a precipitate containing heavy metals and it will soon be past the rehabilitation stage if the government does not step in and fully rehabilitate the mine site.”

He took these pictures of the river about 18km downstream of the mine site.

The river joins the Fitzroy after flowing through Wycarbah. Samples have been taken from the Dee and Fitzroy for independent testing because the landcare group says it no longer trusts the official test results.

Campaigner Denis George said a big section of the river had changed colour and there were no fish for 50km downstream from Mount Morgan.

“There's something in it that's killing the fish. It looks radioactive and my big worry is that with the open cut at Mount Morgan full to capacity, another big wet season will mean uncontrolled releases of that water and all the chemicals it contains.”

Rockhampton-based gardening guru Neil Fisher said he was shocked to the core when he saw the colour of the river at Dululu.

“It's scary stuff. That water eventually arrives in Rockhampton and we are getting reports from gardeners that some of their sensitive plants are dying. Plants like hydrangeas are a reliable indicator of when things are wrong and gardeners are losing them now.”

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