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Industrial Development on the Burrup

Scott Ludlam 18 Nov 2013

Senator Ludlam asked the minister representing the Minister for the Environment, in writing, on 12 November 2013:

With reference to the Australian Government's approval for construction of the Burrup Nitrates technical ammonium nitrate production facility (EPBC 2008/4546, 14 September 2011) and industrial development on the Burrup:

(1) Has construction commenced; if so;

(a) have conditions in Section 8a and 8b, regarding the provision of fencing and signage been met; if so, can a copy be provided of the documentation;

(b) have conditions in Section 8d, regarding the requirement to conduct a survey of rock art within a 2 kilometre radius of the site been met; if so, can a copy be provided of any documentation and/or evidence; and,

(c) have conditions in Section 9 regarding the air quality monitoring program been met; if so, can a copy be provided of the documentation.

(2) Is the Minister aware that industrial emissions are already threatening Western Australia's rock art-rich Burrup Peninsula, with emissions in the area so substantial that the Bureau of Meteorology's radar have picked them up as rainfall even on clear days.

(3) Is the Minister aware of the conditions placed on the Woodside Pluto LNG plant regarding emissions and operational constraints in regard to mitigating adverse effects on the national listed place values.

(4) Is the continued, days-long, flaring from the Pluto LNG facility compliant with their obligations:

(a) if so, can a copy be provided of any documentation and/or evidence.

(b) if not, what action has been taken to enforce compliance.

Senator Cormann: The Minister for the Environment has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

1. The construction of an ammonium nitrate production facility within the King Bay/Hearson Cove Industrial Precinct, Burrup Peninsula, WA was approved with conditions on 14 September 2011 (EPBC 2008/4546). The approval holder, Yara Pilbara Nitrates Pty Ltd, has advised that construction commenced in February 2013.

a. Condition 8a of the approval requires chain mesh fencing to be installed around the project site prior to construction. The approval holder has advised that this is in place in accordance with the condition. Condition 8b provides for signs to be attached to fencing at the entrance to the site and at intervals along the fence. No report is required for this condition at this time. The approval holder advised the department by email on 15 February 2013 that relevant signage is in place and the chain mesh fencing had been installed.

b. Condition 8d requires the approval holder to engage a heritage monitor to survey the rock art sites at least once annually, beginning from the time construction commences. No report is required for this condition at this time. The approval holder advised the department by email on 26 June 2013 that planning is underway to appointment a heritage monitor by the end of 2013.

c. Condition 9 provides for an air quality monitoring program beginning from the commencement of construction. No report is required for this condition at this time. The Department visited the project site in October 2013 and observed that air quality monitoring equipment has been installed and is currently collecting baseline data.

The Department has reviewed the approval holder's compliance with their conditions of approval and is satisfied that there are no concerns at this time. The Department expects the first annual compliance report to be submitted to the Department in mid 2014, in accordance with condition 3 of the approval.

Management plans detailing the approval holder's commitments in relation to aboriginal heritage management and construction environmental management were approved by the Department on 24 October 2012 and 22 November 2012 respectively. Copies of these management plans are publically available on the approval holder's website.

2. I am aware of a media report from May 2012 in which Western Australian Greens MP, Robin Chapple, alleges industrial emissions on the Burrup Peninsula are indicated as rain on Bureau of Meteorology weather radars.

3. On 12 October 2007, the former Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull, approved the development and operation of the Pluto LNG facility subject to 14 conditions (EPBC 2006/2968). The controlling provisions for the EPBC Act approval of this project were listed threatened species and communities, listed migratory species and Commonwealth marine areas. No conditions were placed upon Woodside regarding mitigation of potential effects of the national listed place values of the Burrup Peninsula and Dampier Archipelago as the place was not listed at the time the referral decision was made.

4. The flaring is compliant with Woodside's obligations under their approved ‘Pluto LNG Offshore Commissioning and Operations Environment Plan'. This plan allows for continuous flows of gas to the flare during normal daily operations for utility purges and to maintain the flare at the tip.

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