21 January 2022 -
Senator Rex Patrick spent many months battling through the Freedom of information process to obtain this (heavily redacted) trove of documents. They show what, and when, the government knew about the deaths of mangroves as a result of waste brine leaking from the moribund salt ponds at St Kilda. The documents also reveal that there was no environmental bond taken from the operator when the mining leases were recently renewed for 21 years, raising the possibility that the public of SA may be left to foot the bill to clean up this mess.
- 16 December 2021 -
Christmas is nearly upon us and the Alliance to Save St Kilda Mangroves thought you may all be interested in an update. How did the situation evolve, where are we now, and what do we hope for this site in the future? Well, the latter is easy. First things first. The impacting salt needs removing. Then restoration of the surrounding wetlands can start. And remediation of the damaged and damaging gypsum ponds. Finally, a proper closure plan for the rest of the mining leases. Faith spells out our "asks" clearly in the video. With State and Federal elections coming up, we would love to see our representatives of all political stripes commit to these four steps.
The Spring of our Discontent: The onset of a second springtime of hypersaline leakage from the salt ponds was marked by a range of Direct Actions
- September-November 2021 -
Winter brought rain, and with it calls for the salt brine to be removed from the ponds, to reduce the likelihood of further impacts. When these calls appeared to be falling on deaf ears, and with torrid reactions from some politicians and government agencies becoming more common, community members started undertaking direct actions.
The first day of Spring saw the Citizens' Environmental Cleanup! Thank you Uncle Jeffrey, Yuandamarra and Nadia for your support and blessing. Faith, what can we say? What a classy action! And the excess funds from the "Go Pump Me" crowdfund will be the seed funding as the community looks to install a piezometer network to monitor the shallow groundwater lens under the town - so stay tuned for more information!
When toxic politics resulted in a public verbal attack (on radio) on one of the Alliance scientists, brave rebels from XR took time out from their larger concerns to start an #IStandWithPeri social media action, and so many wonderful people joined in...
And a huge "Well Done" to kayakers George, Sue, Albert and Leonard, who love Barker Inlet and who undertook a magnificent "Canoe Doodle to Save the Mangroves"
Managing the holding pattern to the north of St Kilda, SA
- March 29 2021 -
St Kilda Mangroves Alliance has analysed compliance reports and PEPR documents hosted on the DEM website, relating to the management of the northern ponds of Dry Creek saltfields. A pumping regime (the Holding Pattern) was supposed to maintain feeding resources for migratory shorebirds, until a closure plan for the saltfield could be developed. The pumping regime depended on flows of treated wastewater in the SA Water Channel to dilute the strong brine that formed in the Holding Pattern ponds, to make the brines safe to discharge to sea. Flows in the channel are insufficient to dilute the brine produced from the area of ponds, causing unstable, extreme salinities to develop across the whole complex of ponds. It is likely the invertebrate populations used as food by the shorebirds have been significantly impacted.
The report can be accessed here: MngHoldPattNthStKIlda_final
- Late February 2021 -
Vigil for the St Kilda Mangroves and Saltmarshes
- 02 February 2021 -
The vigil for the St Kilda Mangroves on the South Australian Parliament House Steps held this past Tuesday morning had a great turnout with many sincere and direct messages of concern being shared by the variety of speakers from the St Kilda Mangrove Alliance, members of the SA Parliament and among the people attending.
Thank you for coming along, it was great to see a presence that could not be ignored by the media or the state Government. And thank you especially to Uncle Jeffrey Newchurch for your Welcome to Country.
It was good to see and hear from Peter Malinauskas, SA Opposition Leader, Gerry Butler representing Landcare SA & Butterfly Conservation SA Inc and Mark Pierson & Faith Coleman from Friends of Gulf St Vincent Inc. and EcoProTem.
One highlight for me were the clear and concise words of Mark Parnell (Greens, SA) as to whether we should be even considering trusting the Department of Mining to responsibly fix this mess when their day job is to approve and action the clearing of native growth for profit.
Another highlight of the day for me was the absolute resolve to force action for the sake of this vitally important region at St Kilda and surrounds by Tammy Franks (Greens, SA) with mention of her (then) upcoming motion in Parliament condemning the Government’s inaction and ineptitude in dealing with the mass die-off of mangroves and salt marsh at St Kilda.
What did people have to say?
St Kilda Mangroves Alliance launch
- 23 January 2021 -
Braving the heat on Saturday morning (23/01/21) at the St Kilda Boardwalk, representatives of a new alliance announced to the press their united efforts to help Save The St Kilda Mangroves.
They united to ensure a best practice remediation plan is urgently put in place for the recovery and long-term health of this globally significant area.
More groups have since joined the alliance. Check them out here.
Airborne Research Australia's donation
- 16 January 2021 -
Last Saturday the 16th of January, scientists from an independent expert organisation called Airborne Research Australia (ARA) captured aerial photography, lidar and hyperspectral imagery of the area at no cost to enable interested parties to properly assess the magnitude and distribution of the problem.
Their flight covered about 1500 hectares of the area in 21 parallel flight lines. The first partially processed data is now coming out and it clearly shows large areas of dead and dying vegetation.
More Media Attention
- 12 January 2021 -
More air time on ABC Breakfast with Spence Denny talking about the impacts on the mangroves at St Kilda.
Sarah Hansen-Young, Greens Senator from 1:29:30 to 1:31:40
Kristen Messenger (long time manager at the Mangrove Trail in the 90s) and Mike Bossley (Dr Dolphin) from 1:42:15 to 1:49:45
Paul DeIonno (Acting Director Mining Regulator) from 2:44:10 to 2:56:26
The Advertiser also ran another story.
First Major Media Attention
- 06 January 2021 -
The morning kicked off on ABC Breakfast with Spence Denny interviewing Craig Wilkins, Conservation Council of SA; Neil MacDonald, Fisheries Consultant and EO, Gulf St Vincent Prawn Boat Owners Association and Peri Coleman, Delta Environmental Consulting.
Susan Close MP then had her own statement to the press.
In the evening channels 9 & 7 had coverage, and then the Advertiser had a story shared nationwide through their network the following day!
An Evolving Catastrophe
- 31 December 2020 -
It has now become clear that any lower brine levels in the leaking ponds are merely the effect of ongoing leakage and evaporation, not removal. It was hard to see the early level drops of millimeters to a centimetre a day, but once the level dropped 10 centimetres it became easy to see.
The brine is now crystallising in all ponds south of St Kilda, making eventual removal (the pumped removal has not yet started) less and less likely. Ongoing leakage from these ponds is now causing visible salt crystallisation in the tidal saltmarshes.
Monitoring of the impacts by the community, government departments and NGO's will continue.
Time For Action
- 24 December 2020 -
The Dept. of Energy & Mining (DEM) issued a "direction" to the mining company on the 24th of December. The direction (which is enforceable under the Mining Act) was to remove brine from the gypsum ponds.
This step forward was considerably weakened by the wording
"...as far as reasonably practical, remove brine from all ponds within Section 2 (adjacent to the impacted St Kilda Mangroves)" - DEM
The brine is becoming stronger daily, and starting to precipitate salt, making it harder to move through pumps and pipes. The longer the mining company can delay, the more likely they will be able to use the "reasonably practical" phrase as a "get out of jail free" card.
DEM + NGO Meeting
- 23 December 2020 -
The Department of Energy & Mining (DEM) held a meeting with several concerned environmental NGOs and scientists to discuss the die-off of mangroves and saltmarshes along 7 kilometers of coast south of St Kilda.
Attendees appreciated the opportunity to interact with agency staff, however they left without answers to their questions about immediate corrective actions.
DEM asked attendees to send them written questions but were not able to commit to answering all of them. Disappointing, but not unexpected.