Love this Valley

Why could not the IIS include this comparative data? Have the four local Councils also spent, may be $10 phoning the Councils in Tumut and Maryvale? Why did the Northern Regional Development Council not go to Tumut: instead of Finland to find out about a 5 year old “state of the art” Australian pulp mill?

The Proponent proposal at 1,300,000 tonnes per year capacity is 4+ larger than the Tumut Mill. It is proposed to use 80% old growth timber which is far more resinous and hence uses far more aggressive chemical to bleach its pulp.

I have spoken with Tasmanian Real Estate Agents; who acknowledge that they have already lost prospective purchasers due to their knowledge of the perceived Pulp Mill odour problems. Some of these prospective purchasers have been from interstate; visitors who are aware of the proposals and that all Pulp Mill are odorous. North facing properties 20 kms (from Longreach) down the Tamar Valley are in sight of the current Chip mill and proposed Pulp Mill, and can on occasions already smell ( at a low level) the industry at Bell Bay.

BEWARE.

Your investment in your business, family home, job and retirement may well be threatened as more and more details, consequences, deals, heads of agreements and long term undertakings concerning this huge joint venture project – Gunns/Tasmanian Forestry Commission Pulp Mill Project are being brought out into the open.
Now we learn 7,000,000 tonnes of woodchips will be needed for 30 years.

I read the odour part of the IIS to find …

the IIS odour assessment is based on nothing more than the Proponents Consultants’ statement that they intend installing three sets of equipment with three levels of controls that will eliminate any odorous emissions — with only two odour incidents per year, barring breakdowns being experienced by the community. There is no mention of comparative studies with other pulp mills, no current base line for the Tamar Valley; they did not even compare their proposed emissions with actual odour emissions from other existing Australian pulp mills.

With 6 std. telephone calls they could have found out and included in the IIS the following:

• Tumut Pulp Mill in NSW, built and operated in 2001, claimed at that time to be the cleanest, greenest, most advanced pulp mill. It’s a Kraft Mill producing 300,000 tonnes of pulp, from 90% hardwood plantations, the plantations are irrigated with the comparatively low volumes of effluent discharged from the mill. Since commissioning many millions of dollars have been spent on odour control and effluent control equipment. The mill is 9kms from the township of Tumut. Within this area there are approximately 25+ large scale farms. Currently 5 official odour incidents per month are recorded (60 per year), almost all within the 9km radius. When the wind blows in the direction of the Tumut township odour incidents are reported.

This is — 60 official odour incidents per year, incidents reported largely by 25+ people within a 9km radius for a 300,000 tonne Kraft pulp mill.

• Maryvale Paper Mill in Morwell, Victoria, built many years ago but regularly upgraded to modern standards, an integrated paper mill, producing approximately 250,000 tonnes of pulp annually, which is then made to paper — 90% hardwood plantations plus sawmill waste. An average of 2 odour incidents per month are currently recorded. Almost all of the 24 official odour incidents per year originate from within a 10 km radius of the mill.

This is — 24 official odour incidents per year within a 10 km radius, for a 250,000 tonne paper mill.

Both of the local councils and the local State EPA offices have at least two Officers responding to odour incidents, liaising with residents, the companies, and the media and holding regular Community meetings.

I spoke with a number of Real Estate Agents in each area, after discussing the general position it was established that none of them would themselves live within the 10kms radius because of the odour problems. The Tumut Pulp Mill Company has a legal undertaking with the 25+ property owners within the 9kms radius to purchase their properties from them if they request this — due to ongoing odour problems. Property prices in the Tumut Township have not fallen as this township is in demand from Sydneysiders who want to relocate to more affordable housing. Likewise in Maryvale as this area is now an employment growth area due to the many industrial companies re-located to this area from Melbourne.

Observations

Why could not the IIS include this comparative data? Have the four local Councils also spent, may be $10 phoning the Councils in Tumut and Maryvale? Why did the Northern Regional Development Council not go to Tumut: instead of Finland to find out about a 5 year old “state of the art” Australian pulp mill?

The Proponent proposal at 1,300,000 tonnes per year capacity is 4+ larger than the Tumut Mill. It is proposed to use 80% old growth timber which is far more resinous and hence uses far more aggressive chemical to bleach its pulp.

Within a 10km radius of Longreach; this area takes in George Town to the town roundabout, half way to Pipers Brooke, to Mt Direction, and to Loria on the West Tamar, all of Beaconsfield and to the Beauty Point Esplanade. I estimate more than 1,800 properties are within this circle. We have a higher percentage of older, unemployed, retirees, and re-located residents than the Tumut area.

If you take the 60 incidents per year from 25 residents for the 300,000 tonne Tumut mill and by the 1800 residents in our area; this calculates to 4320 incidents per year (360 per month). The Longreach mill if built will be 4+ times larger, it bleaches and the Proponent says that three levels of odour control equipment will be in place. Clearly the Longreach mill will cause many more odour incidents than 2 per year suggested only in the IIS, more by many orders of magnitude.

Tasmania has no EPA organisation. Due to the Lennon Government’s acquiescence and covert support, pulp mill odorous compounds are specifically excluded from Tasmanian Air Quality Regulations. Tasmania currently has only one Workplace Tasmania specialist based in Hobart: who also has other duties. How will the Councils, Workplace Tasmania and the company respond within 15 minutes to resident’s complaints about odour? Who will they phone 24/7? Will the Councils be able to respond to residents reported incidents, visit residents properties, liaise with the company at Longreach, liaise with Workplace Tasmania and hold Community Meetings?

The Councils and the State Government do not understand the dynamics and the scale of this very large potential problem. No industrial area in Tasmania has faced a problem of this magnitude before! The substantial resources needed by Government and Councils have not been included in the IIS. Will Residents have to complain for 30 years; the life of this proposal before odour complaints is addressed — like the complaints about the West Tamar Highway? I do not think so where odour complaints are involved.

What written guarantees will be provided to residents; — there aren’t any in the IIS, that there will be an adequate processes put in place by the IIS, Government and Councils. Will the RPDC include recommendations to cover in detail odour complaints, loss of health, loss of amenity, and loss of real estate values??

I have spoken with Tasmanian Real Estate Agents; who acknowledge that they have already lost prospective purchasers due to their knowledge of the perceived Pulp Mill odour problems. Some of these prospective purchasers have been from interstate; visitors who are aware of the proposals and that all Pulp Mill are odorous. North facing properties 20 kms (from Longreach) down the Tamar Valley are in sight of the current Chip mill and proposed Pulp Mill, and can on occasions already smell ( at a low level) the industry at Bell Bay.

Residents must contact their Council and Elected State and Federal representatives to express their views and demand that these issues be addressed by the Government and the RPDC, before the RPDC submission period is closed.

If you doubt any of the above phone Tumut and Maryvale, phone a local Real Estate Agent, phone Workplace Tasmania, phone all of the Councils, read the IIS — absolutely make a submission to the RPDC and your Council, discuss it with friends and work colleagues — I am sure that within 3 years we will be complaining about the smell.

Monday: Plantations under fire