Bunbury Port Development Plan Gets Approval (Australia)
Western Australia’s peak environment group has called on the Barnett Government to rule out the export of coal from the port of Bunbury, after a proposal to build a shipping terminal for a new coal export industry was given recommended approval by the State’s environmental watchdog today.
Lanco Australia is seeking approval for a 5-fold increase in coal production from its Collie mines, with plans to export up to 15 million tonnes per year of coal through the port of Bunbury; however it has been widely reported that the company is already facing severe financial difficulties with just its existing operational levels. Yesterday the EPA recommended conditional approval for the port upgrade.
“There are serious and fundamental concerns with any plans to expand coal mining in the Collie Region” said Conservation Council spokesperson Cameron Poustie.
“In particular, the unavoidable contribution to global climate change, as well as impacts on groundwater near Collie and of course coal dust from mine to port, make Lanco’s coal expansion proposal totally unacceptable on environmental grounds.
“Globally, coal is the biggest single driver of climate change and carbon pollution and we urge the Barnett Government to show leadership on this issue by ruling out any expansions of this polluting and unnecessary industry in WA.
“The Council will be doing everything we can to prevent this proposal from becoming a reality, including appealing today’s recommendation by the EPA.
“Many in the Bunbury community would be shocked that a proposal for up to 15 million tonnes per year of coal, and its associated dangerous dust emissions, has been recommended for approval by the State’s environmental watchdog.
“The planned coal export terminal is also likely to cause extensive disruption to recreational activities in Koombana Bay, as well causing major impacts to the marine life in the surrounding area.
“However the most significant issue associated with the coal export proposal has been totally overlooked by the EPA – that is the fact that this is a plan to export a massive climate change problem to the world.” Mr Poustie concluded.
EPA Chairman Paul Vogel said the proposal is consistent with the Bunbury Port Authority’s Inner Harbour structure plan, which was currently being assessed separately by the EPA as a Strategic Proposal and aimed to guide future development and decision making within the Inner Harbour.
Dr Vogel said the Lanco Resources proposal was assessed at the highest level due to the potential impacts on several environmental factors including marine fauna, marine environmental quality, and air quality.
Dr Vogel said the proponent modified the proposal in a number of areas, which would allow it to meet the EPA’s objectives for several key environmental factors provided recommended conditions are implemented.
Modifications included committing to dry-land piling and excavation rather than marine pile driving wherever possible to reduce underwater noise emissions on marine mammals. The proponent will only construct one ship loading facility to minimise noise impacts on nearby residents.
“The proponent has also ensured the presence of marine fauna observers during marine construction activities and committed to undertaking visual boat-based dolphin monitoring following construction,” Dr Vogel said.
Dr Vogel said the construction of the berth pocket would involve the dredging of up to 1.9 million cubic metres of sediments. Dredge material would be deposited in Commonwealth waters subject to requirements of Australia’s Sea Dumping Act.
Press Release, July 18, 2013