Peg Putt Press Release

Consumption and Welfare Costs of $1.18 billion. Foreign Debt Increase of $4.2 billion

(The Mercury report: Pulp pollutants alarm)

THE Tasmanian and Australian Greens today held the public launch of their joint submission to the RPDC on Gunns proposed Bell Bay pulp mill, entitled ‘ Don’t Pulp Our Future’, which comprehensively critiques the project and concludes that in the interests of sustainable development, intergenerational equity and the precautionary principle the RPDC must reject the current proposal.

Greens Opposition Leader Peg Putt MHA introduced Professor Andrew Wadsley, a principal of expert consultants Australian Risk Audit, who prepared a Risk Audit Report and an Economic Risk Assessment for the Greens (both contained in Vol 2).

Australian Risk Audit identified 71 major risks in 12 different sectors, the majority of which have been either ignored or wrongly quantified; concluded that the mill would increase the foreign debt by $4.2 billion with only an $800 million reduction in exports; and forecast a consumption and welfare loss of $1.18 billion, saying the project has a less than 35% chance of producing a consumption and welfare improvement to Tasmania.

Ms Putt also foreshadowed that a third volume would be launched in the near future when the expert consultants who contributed to an Air Quality assessment were available.

“In our comprehensive submission we have addressed health impacts and air pollution associated with Gunns pulp mill; the impacts on the marine environment; the emission of toxic chemicals; use of outdated technology; adverse effects on fresh water, forests and biodiversity; economic and social concerns; problematic assessment methodology; and opportunity cost to Tasmania,” Ms Putt said.

“We believe that the health impacts from increased air pollution arising from the pulp mill are of the gravest concern to residents in the Tamar valley and particularly the more densely populated areas of Launceston and Georgetown, and that Gunns assertions of negligible health impacts are just plain wrong and irresponsible.”

“Gunns determination to use chlorine compounds in the bleaching process makes this way below top notch worlds best, and means that production and emission of extremely toxic pollutants is inevitable.”

“The refusal to assess the impacts on our native forests and the magnificent forest dependant species like the wedge-tailed eagle and the giant freshwater crayfish is condemned as an abrogation of accepted principles of environmental impact assessment.”

“The findings of our expert consultants on economics and risk assessment are very concerning, and paint a quite different picture to the rosy spin in the Gunns impact statement which has simply failed to assess the downside of their pulp mill, “ Ms Putt concluded.

Read for yourself on the Tasmanian Greens’ website:

Christine Milne:

Gunns’ pulp mill statement ignores climate change impacts

Gunns’ forecast impacts of its proposed pulp mill are fundamentally flawed because they fail to take account of climate change and the long-term impacts on the environment over the 30 year life of the project, Australian Greens climate change spokesperson, Tasmanian Senator Christine Milne, said today.

“Gunns’ analysis of the marine impacts of the proposed pulp mill is based on wrong assumptions,” Senator Milne said in Hobart.

“The integrated impact statement (IIS) fails to take account of the cumulative impact of the pulp mill’s pollution stream into Bass Strait in a changing climate. It ignores the scientific evidence that Bass Strait does not flush and that the pollution will concentrate and not be diluted or dispersed, as Gunns’ claim.

“Climate change is forecast to make the north east of Tasmania dryer yet Gunns want to take 26 billion litres of water a year out of the ecosystem and pump it into Bass Strait as toxic effluent.”

Senator Milne said Gunns’ forecast revenue from selling power from the plant based on burning native forests could not be verified because Gunns had not disclosed the assumptions on which it was based.

“Already, the $25 price of renewable energy certificates cited by Gunns has dropped to $20. Given the reluctance of energy wholesalers to buy ‘dead koala’ energy, Tasmanians need to know whether the government has required Aurora to enter into a long-term contract to purchase power from burning forests, to the financial detriment of Hydro Tasmania,” Senator Milne said.

“In addition, the pulp mill energy plant would pump 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, on top of the increased soil carbon emissions as a result of clearing forests, further adding to the burden of greenhouse gas emissions when Australia needs to reduce emissions.

“Tasmania’s clean, green and clever industry direction emerged after the collapse of the Wesley Vale pulp mill project and now underpins the state economy. Gunns’ pulp mill undermines this reputation and is the wrong sort of project for Tasmania because the long-term negative impacts on the state, its people and environment will far outweigh any short-term financial gain for Gunns.”

Senator Milne contributed to the Greens’ submission to the Resource Planning and Development Commission which the Greens released today at a news conference in Hobart.