MINING companies in WA have so much clout that even our top environment defender is powerless to rein them in when they're caught polluting in a big way.
The latest Health Department wellbeing survey shows residents in the Goldfields have a higher rate of cancer and are 30 per cent more likely to suffer asthma or respiratory problems than other West Australians.
A senior environment department insider said staff were so busy and focused on mine approvals that they had almost no time for compliance checks and investigations.
He said two spills of waste "tailings" of more than a million litres each this year were not investigated, while a company suspected of burying thousands of litres of oil in drums also escaped inquiry.
Greens mining spokesman Robin Chapple said the State Government and the mines and environment departments were unable and unwilling to hold miners to account because they were a "cash cow" and were powering the economy.