Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


Trouble at Mill (Part 1)

Mike Bolan

Hieronymous Bosch meets Kafka in Wonderland.

TRYING to understand the pulp mill ‘approval’ process is not easy, perhaps because the entire situation defies both common sense and the basic tenets of process management and design. The main difficulty is that the espoused goals and purposes of the process are most unlikely to be achieved by the process in use, indeed the entire effort is fraught with needless costs and risk.

The government has declared a project of ‘State significance’ based on a computerised economic model that cannot be inspected by the public and that identifies no economic risks from a ‘world scale’ pulp mill to be located upwind of a population of around 100,000 people engaged in mixed and sensitive industries. It seems that the ‘world scale’ logging and plantation activities planned for this small island won’t produce any negative impacts worth reporting. Apparently the conversion of active farms with annual cash flow to tree plantations that only produce income once every couple of decades is also no problem, in fact we’re told we’re all going to be better off.

The government appears to believe that there is no serious risk from the mill because the developer states that there will be none, consequently the public doesn’t need any protection other than that provided by the developer. The developer is supposed to protect the public by monitoring and reporting on their own performance to some regulator yet to be identified using regulations yet to be revealed. Meanwhile businesses and concerned citizens should ‘be patient’.

Although the developer has a clear cut conflict of interest, they have been put in the position of defining the impacts of their project on the wider community. While public company Articles of Association force managers to focus only on what is profitable for their shareholders, the government still expects the developer to report honestly on factors that could be detrimental to their profits, like disclosure of potential risks or reporting on accidental pollution. Despite the fact that affected existing industries are worth many times whatever value could be gained from a pulp mill, the mill developer determines which aspects of those industries is worth studying, even for industries that are entirely outside the developer’s competence such as fishing and tourism.

In no way accountable to the public

The ‘approval’ process itself is managed by a quasi-legal body that is in no way accountable to the public nor has any public responsibilities regarding transparency or open-ness of decision making. Despite the requirement for ‘science’ the RPDC is not a scientific body, nor need it base its decisions on science. Apparently it somehow makes sense to place the needs of those industries that could be affected by the mill (worth some $25 billion over the 30 year life of the mill) entirely in the hands of the developer and a 4 person quasi legal body. Our paid elected representatives seem happy to watch a tax funded developer and the tax funded ‘umpire’ make decisions that could affect over 100,000 Tasmanians without their acting in any way to assure that existing businesses and homeowners are protected.

The consultants, selected and briefed by the developer, have reported information that is so demonstrably false as to be shocking such as the statement that the Bass Strait is an area ‘with relatively minimal marine aquatic life’. The reports, including the ‘economic case’ that identifies no negative impacts on Tasmania, are described generally by the authorities as ‘science’, while community efforts to get attention and security on particular issues of concern are publicly described as ‘scare’ campaigns, ‘hysterical’ or unscientific.

Businesses with major investments that could be at risk, home owners living near the mill site, farmers watching themselves being surrounded by water hungry plantations, tourism operators concerned for their well being, fishermen concerned for the future of their family investments …all these and more are supposed to make submissions to the RPDC then just wait for a decision that cannot be appealed. They are supposed to trust their investments and their livelihoods to this process without question.

And all of this is taking place in an environment with virtually no regulatory regime to control dangerous pollutants, no independent monitoring and no clear standards to protect the public.

Of course, the big question is … why is anyone concerned?

That share price:

Latest Stock Market detail: Here

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Tomas

    January 2, 2007 at 12:06 pm

    Don – destructive to who? I think I have been quite polite in recent times on the Times. I haven’t said anything about the personal hygiene of alternative lifestylers or the lack of merit of opinion north of, say, Bothwell.

    On Rick’s point – I think the mill has a 50:50 chance of success in the longer term, depends on a range of internal and external features that can’t be predicted with certainty. I know the market views Gunns diversification program somewhat favourably (although some of its new operations are risky) and that there is unease about the profitability:debt ratios into the future. But to not proceed with increased manufacturing would put a cap ceiling on the company, and its worth would track down over time.


    January 1, 2007 at 8:44 pm

    Methinks it,s time tomas and his hero, or mentor, or alta ego, should have a rethink on just what actual damage they (or he) could in fact be contributing to, should they be posting as they do just for the laughs that they derive, then again perhaps they (or he) really are in the pay of the enemy, either way the behaviour is bloody destructive !

  3. Rick Pilkington

    December 30, 2006 at 6:25 pm

    Quite the opposite what Tomas?? That Gunns share price will go up if they ditch the mill.
    You think the share price will jump when (and if) they get the green light to build? It may well do. There could be some dollars there for a short term trade. And I agree with you that the mill will probably be approved.
    Tomas you said
    “If I was a radical greenie, I would support the mill as that has a better chance of closing down Gunns as we know it now”,
    So that sounds to me like you think the mill will probably become the white elephant that some are predicting? If this is what you believe and you understand how much it will cost the state if it fails then you are morally obliged to speak up about out why YOU believe the mill shouldnt be built. Personally i do not want Gunns ltd to fold and I dont know anyone who does either. I wouldnt want to see the mill built or Gunns fold at further expense to the Tasmanian tax payer.

  4. Tomas

    December 29, 2006 at 11:11 pm

    Rick – quite the opposite. Gunns have bet the farm on the mill. While the market is impressed by the scale of Gunns activity, and diversification into other markets, the only route to increased growth and profits is an additional push into value-adding (manufacturing) which is synonymous with some form of massive capital investment. If the mill was not going to go ahead, Gunns would get a hit but would survive as a company with a defined cap on future growth in the market’s eyes. Now if they build the mill and their debt/profit ratio becomes unsightly, they could be in trouble – to be followed by perhaps splitting the company up or some sort of takeover at rock-bottom prices, followed by asset stripping. If I was a radical greenie, I would support the mill as that has a better chance of closing down Gunns as we know it now,

    There is no question whatsoever that the mill will get approved. I am prepared to take $20 bets to preferred charities on it. Wise investors would buy up Gunns shares ahead of the mill approval as there will be a jump on the announcement.

  5. Rick Pilkington

    December 29, 2006 at 2:16 pm

    The increase in Gunns share price since around the end of august has corresponded with a very bullish run in the Australian market over the same period…..the all ords and asx200 have put on around 13-14%. However, it has been argued that if Gunns announced that it was not going ahead with the pulp mill, the share price would lift significantly. Lets face it, the decline in Gunns shares has corresponded almost to the day with their public declaration of intent to build the mill and the announcement of Gunns (failed) lawsuit against 20 environmental campaigners.

  6. Second Fiddle

    December 28, 2006 at 2:44 pm

    Your lament about our electoral apathy is too true. The abovetheline option on the Senate ballot paper allows/demands such apathy. Nursing Homes are a prime target for the Parties on election day. A veritable harvest…

  7. Rodney Ross

    December 28, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    Why would Gunns without a pulp mill not be viable? I know profits have been dropping recently but they are still pretty good compared with a few years ago. Their hardware and wine businesses would probably do better if they dropped the mill as many residents are boycotting these at present. If they were content with what they’ve got now or growing slowly there’s no reason why they shouldn’t prosper. What they are trying to do is grow into a major company quickly – a course that has proved disastrous in the past. Look at Ion. You can see why the Government wants it – it will make their performance figures look good at the next election which is as far as any Government looks!
    If RPDC approval is a foregone conclusion then it’s a disgrace. I fervently hope that you are wrong. Any reasonable person faced with all the mistakes and omissions in the IIS would be asking themselves whether it is wise to entrust this company with this huge responsibility.
    In the RPDC guidelines it says that all Kraft mills smell and that Gunns should choose a site that minimises the nuisance. Gunns have completely ignored this so if they cannot prove beyond reasonable doubt that there will be no smell then approval should be refused. Otherwise, up to 100,000 lives could be made a misery.
    For all the latest news and facts check out:

  8. Cameron

    December 28, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    That’s an interesting point, Tomas. The pulp mill could very well be a case of the government and Gunns having to be careful what they wish for, as they just might get it.

    I am curious as to how the mill’s approval (and subsequent financial risk etc) will provide benefit for the future for “major industry and investments in Tasmania”, though. If the project is approved and either starts up and then folds within a few years–major embarrassment, especially for the legacy for Lennon et al. (I’m equally intrigued by your prediction somewhere, Tomas, that PL will step down some time late in 2007.)

    If the project is approved and then goes no further because no one will provide the enormous financial investment required–major embarrassment.

    If for some reason the project is not approved by the RPDC (or the R2D2, as I have heard this august body referred to), although this is the least likely scenario at this stage, major embarrassment, and a political disaster for the state government (what did it pay the Pulp Mill Task Force for, after all?)

    All scenarios aside, however, don’t for a second underestimate the depth of anti-mill feeling in the community. Don Davey has alluded to this in recent posts. The mill proposal is by no means universally popular and if it is approved protest action will almost certainly be stepped up.

  9. Tomas

    December 28, 2006 at 1:46 am

    Rodney – the RPDC approval is a foregone conclusion. The financing is not. There is no question that it is a highly risky venture – both from a borrowing and profitability point of view. But Gunns has no choice with respect to its future viability. And the Govt has no choice either as it is backed into a corner both politically and economically, the latter with respect to the future of major investments and industry in Tasmania.


    December 27, 2006 at 5:53 pm

    Further to my last posting, it will be obvious to all that these proceedings are monitored closely by “you know who” and also the examiner and mercury, so, for Launceston residents who may be interested ,i am happy to offer up my home at any time for a get together and perhaps a think tank, so if there is any interest, make it known here and i will set a date to suit all, (day or night) as i am now retired.
    Plenty of tea and coffee,any thing else, wine and munchies you will have to bring yourself,(i,m just a poor old pensioner ya know !) heh,heh.
    ciao, d.d.


    December 27, 2006 at 5:31 pm

    when john biggs say,s perhaps shorter and more punchy, he realises as do i (i think) that the hearts and minds of the punters out there we hope to reach are fred average and family ,who just happen to make up the majority of the voting public which is why the the govt can get away with putting millions into sporting fixtures as against more social needs such as medical expenditure making them the good guys ! as we all know that the healthy far outweigh the sick and so this mill in many eyes is right because the govt through the media tells them it is ! plus the fact that few read little further than, births,deaths,sport,fred basset, and wot,s on the telly ! they vote for the govt to do the right thing and assume that they do.
    WE have become the most apathetic society in the goddam world ,without doubt .
    A couple of young guys i would assume to be between 18 and 22 shouted to me from the pub opposite cinema one. “wot,s the f—–n signs for”
    i attempted to explain however they knew ! they just wished to wind me up with some abuse , “wot about our f—–n jobs ya dickhead”, they have been, and continue to be brainwashed ! still they are the ones that we need to convince and get on side, whereas here we are preaching to the converted and continue to get caught up in falling
    for the tricks of bonham and his sycophantic little assassin mates, or in my opinion his psuedonyms.
    I think right thinking individuals know what needs to be done ,and bloody quickly, the trick is how to handle the Media ?

  12. Brenda Rosser

    December 27, 2006 at 4:45 pm

    Let us keep in mind that the big-business crony, the Tasmanian Resource Planning and Development Commission, was not the one that “formed the view that the relevant forestry operations [in Wielangta] will be, and have been, carried out otherwise than in accordance with the RFA”. It took a half a million dollar Court ruling to obtain some meaning to the word ‘protection’ in the Federal EPBC Act. (The RPDC, after all, asserted that there would be no ‘overt’ protection for rural residents, even. Then continued to allow unfettered aerial and whole district spray operations over countless rural communities).

    Nor did the Tasmanian RPDC respond to the startling revelations of corruption, cronyism and environmentally-devasting forest practices made by the very (long term) auditor on the Tasmanian Forest Practices Board, Bill Manning.

    Nor has the RPDC ensured that the wishes of 80% of Tasmanians who want to see an end to old growth logging has been fulfilled.

    It’s time to get rid of the RPDC. Instead local communities need to be the new decision makers. They will decide what forms of business and technology are compatible with THEIR social values, environment and health. It is not appropriate for business to be any more than just another submission writer in these decision-making processes.


  13. Mike Bolan

    December 27, 2006 at 12:31 pm

    Hi folks, glad you got something out of my descriptions.

    For those seeking a briefer, ‘punchier’ version for other uses I advise that there will be more parts to the story (that will also probably benefit from editing) and that an edited version(s) will be available soon.

    My role is as consultant to various groups and individuals. I basically listen to the various messages, do research and try to see through the ‘clutter’ to identify key leverage points. My clients may well take my work and modify it for public consumption in a range of ways, removing my name the whiles.

    Feedback and comments on TT are a very useful part of learning which messages ‘play’ to which audiences and which don’t.


    December 27, 2006 at 1:25 am

    For those who don,t have the addresses of the nations papers, type ,(australian newspapers online)
    for an extensive coverage.


    December 27, 2006 at 1:11 am

    John( post (11)
    I agree with your sentiments entirely ! however should Rodney be wrong , and we just sit around with that belief , then it is too late, i believe we have to keep up as much pressure and as often as possible in order to secure his scenario! to not do so i believe will be foolhardy,
    Gay and his people will i believe do “anything” in order to secure a result in their favour.
    Some here, have related stories of harrassment ,and i in fact made light of “Bucks” episode, however i have only been at this for a few months and over the past week or so have been recieving many calls in the early hours, every night, with no one there ! so obviously i,m getting up someones nose , problem is, i can’t leave it off the hook because of my Dads illness and the obvious reasons, but we must not let the bastards get us down .


    December 27, 2006 at 12:40 am

    O.K! we have some agreement in principal, now i have absolutely no experience in setting up such! perhaps some idea,s ? what is your slant on this Mike? after all, we are talking of your contribution!
    We have all complained of the lack of interest and or bias by the press, however could we all not make a concerted effort in all sending our letters, en,masse to both the Mercury and the Examiner, i do have a modicum of success however they do tend to chop much out of them with the excuse that is too long, and todays effort was a tiny sample of what was already a very lean letter and of course it was the most important parts that were chopped.
    Is there any merit in writing en,masse to the Australian Press Council, (i am just throwing some idea,s about here for more contribution from you all) there has to be a way because as excellent as this forum is ,it does have limited coverage , i think i can say that with confidence as in my own efforts i meet many people and bring this site to their attention , and very few know of its existence and of course there are many who are not on the net.
    We have here a glimmer of interest let,s throw some idea,s about !


  17. Tigdh Glesain

    December 26, 2006 at 8:05 pm

    Hear, hear Don! I’ll match your $10 with a further $10 ($20) toward the kitty, and re-iterate that I have, and encourage others to, print this article out and post it to the major National papers, as well as the locals, plus leave it in conspicuous places, where-so-ever people gather.

    If enough of these copies are sent out, ‘one-offs’ become ‘coincidences’ that become noteworthy postings. The media can choose to ignore one or two, but not twenty two… (O:

  18. John Biggs

    December 26, 2006 at 7:07 pm

    My head tells me that Rodney Ross is correct, my heart that Paul de Burgh-Day is. And where that leaves other bits of me I hate to think. But yes, Don, you can put me down for $50. But the article will need to be edited heavily to be shorter and punchier. Mike?

    Another ploy is for as many people as possible to write our own letters of no more than 200 words using Mike’s and our own arguments and submit to Mercury. If none were published that would tell its own story.

  19. Paul de Burgh-Day

    December 26, 2006 at 5:35 pm

    I have an opinion . . 

    The reality behind all this is simple.

    Gunns MUST get their mill.
    Lennon and his troops know that.
    So does Howard.

    I’ll have a quiet bet that the continuation of MIS schemes was inevitable – to save Gunns. The only profitable sector of Gunns now are the taxpayer funded MIS schemes.

    The Tasmanian Government will do ANYTHING to save Gunns. So will Canberra.  

    Careful analysis of Gunns annual reports leaves no doubt that they are in deep shit – and have been for several years.
    The Mill is to save Gunns.

    All who oppose the mill must get their head around this.
    Hard evidence that should stop this project dead in its tracks will be swept aside.
    It will be ignored – or misrepresented) by the mainstream media.
    The RPDC process is pure window dressing.

    Gunns, the Lennon ‘government’, Her Majesties loyal opposition and the Feds will do whatever they have to do to see that it happens. The health and wellbeing of Tamar Valley residents is utterly irrelevant.


    December 26, 2006 at 2:56 pm

    John Biggs ,
    your statement in regards to Mike Bolans piece that “it should be published on a much wider front” is absolutely correct and once again allow me to suggest that in the event of the papers refusal to print same , why not a whip round in order to see that it is printed as a public notice!
    It would cost less than $50 ,so what about it, all of you who say you care ! I have canvassed this before and quite frankly have been sadly dissapointed just how fast those particular post,s ended in the archives,s.
    so Mike and or John if you find any merit in the suggestion , count me in for 10 bucks, and for any other posting deemed suitable for the same treatment, the trick is of course how many “REALLY GIVE A DAMN” when it entails putting hand in pocket.

  21. Rodney Ross

    December 26, 2006 at 1:53 pm

    The mill is not a foregone conclusion at all. Just look at the cost: $1.4 billion at 2005 prices. Since then Gunns have changed and modified their plans adding in an expensive pipeline and a wharf. The price of raw materials has gone through the roof. Skilled labour is in short supply and therefore expensive (if they can find it at all). Interest rates have risen. Gunns share price has fallen.
    The approval process will continue for another 9 months. It could get caught up in the federal election and delayed until after that. By the time Gunns come to build it it could be $1.8 billion. Add two and a half years interest before any return and you have over $2 billion. It could be that the RPDC approve it but with conditions that increase the cost even more. There could be uncertainty with the forestry resource. The price of transporting logs could rise if log trucks are not allowed to carry the present loads. The accommodation for 2900 workers is a problem and may cause further delays. A prolonged drought may make the Trevallyn water option unviable. The fishing industry might threaten to block the Tamar if they do not get huge financial guarantees. There could be legal attempts to stop the project. The Federal minister might stop it. The banks may refuse the finance. The Gunns board may decide that it’s just too risky.
    Even if the project starts it may not be completed. There could be huge protests with roads and the estuary blocked. There could be a sudden financial crash or international crisis with the banks withdrawing their finance. The price of oil could double. The price of pulp could collapse. The magnesium project in Queensland went bust with the factory half built.
    Only about 30% of proposed pulp mills ever get built.

  22. Tomas

    December 25, 2006 at 8:02 pm

    Actually, John is right. The Mill was a foregone conclusion from the last election. If Labor had got hammered on it, it would be off the radar. They think the electorate is behind them and so all of the process will go in one particular direction only. There is no way that the RPDC will not approve it, once they have Gunns ticking the boxes they have asked for. I think the last election has made Lennon believe that the ‘silent’ majority is behind them state-wide, as well as particularly in the Launceston area. The approval process is not supposed to be democratic, just a bureaucratic step-wide procedure to ensure that the government has ‘clean hands’.

    But here’s my 2007 prediction, Lennon to step down before the next election, maybe late 2007. Much muttering on this around town at the moment. Kons or Bartlett to succeed.

  23. John Hayward

    December 25, 2006 at 5:21 pm

    What Mr Bolan does not seem to realise is that the whole approval process is a ritual designed for the sort of person who could swallow Jonah’s whale without blinking. It is not meant for Mike or anyone else anyone with a functional crap detector.

    The most drastic impacts of the mill will be those resulting from the next thirty years of a locked-in logging volume 84% above last year’s funneled overwhelmingly into the cheapest forest product-chips.Those who have watched the frenzied logging of the past five or six years have seen a kind of slow-mo preview of what we can expect when the mill is approved.

    That the forestry impacts are not even on the table of the Pulp Mill Approval Panel should be an unmistakable signal to Bolan that the process is not to be taken seriously. This point is sledge-hammered home with the Panel’s announcement last week that, on reflection, they actually are assessing the forestry impacts, despite their absence from both the assessment guidelines and the Gunns Integrated Impact Statement.

    Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of history will be aware that general populations will countenance anything up to genocide and world war if their government assures them it is in their best interests. Persuading the public to consent to the liquidation of their natural environment by the local variant of Krupp is a piece of cake, even to the crudest and most maladroit of governments.

    It appears Mike Bolan’s ilk has been left out of all the marketers’ target groups. It’s tough being both sentient and Tasmanian.

    John Hayward

  24. Anne Johnston

    December 25, 2006 at 1:20 pm

    We try, we try, John, but it is hard to get people to listen, let alone take notice, when the Government, which has an unhealthy alliance with the proponent company, controls as much as it possibly can, of what and how much information gets to the general public on this issue. They are hell-bent on getting this white elephant up and we will be saddled with the consequences for decades to come. It is scary to think that the decision is in the hands of just four people – I wouldn’t like to be one of them!
    It is my feeling that Gunns – with an ever diminishing share of the world chip market (who wants dirty native forest chips when they can have cheaper, clean, uniform chips from plantations in Brazil, Russia etc?) – will go bust if they don’t get this project up. Hence the desperation. This, I believe, is the real driver of this project, not the rubbish about “downstream processing” and “extra jobs for Tasmanians”. Gunns don’t care two hoots about that stuff – they are only concerned, as they should be, about returns to shareholders. I am certain there will be a net job loss, if this project gets up (after the initial construction period) and there will be lots of cheap property in the Tamar Valley.

  25. Buck and Joan Emberg

    December 25, 2006 at 11:59 am

    John Biggs is not wrong about the value of Mike Bolan’s article. In fact he is spot on. If only we could get people to scrub the scale from their eyes…

    We have been trying to get politicians to read information like Mike’s. Most emails are never answered and responses made by the few who do merely send out a pro forma bit of clap trap decided by the party or their minders.

    Most of the current crop of elected officials, upper house, lower house and municipal, seem to have an aversion to cross-referenced reading and are apparently fearful of information that is contrary to their party or their already made-up-minds. The few that are open stand out dramatically. It is our intention to let the public know in 2007 just WHO (by name) these politicians are and perhaps give some help for the coming elections.

    We have been speaking to dozens of politicians this past year. A few are open minded. Don Wing stands heads above them all. More names later. However, most politicians seem to be of two minds: 1. “We have made up our mind no matter what is said and we want a pulp mill.” 2. “Don’t confuse us, we will let the RPDC tell us what to do.” Both attitiudes are disaster prone.

    We need Mike’s information out in the public arena for ALL to read. However, the media and political parties seem to be increasingly more interested in their own security nets than they are in open discussions.

    The tragic error we small ‘l’ liberals make is that we tend to think that if we get the full story out about the vandalic pulp mill, people will change their minds and see the error of building this venomous factory in the middle of our Tamar population of 100,000 people…and the pulp mill will not happen.

    That is not to be. We need new and direct action.

    We need it NOW!

  26. Frank Strie

    December 24, 2006 at 1:26 pm

    Well done Mike, for some to ignore your points is living in denial!

    Here below a little bit more food for thought:
    Let’s be aware of recent global experiences with Eucalypt ECF mills


    … On CELCO’s Valdiva pulp mill in Chile, McCubbin said “Some of it [the polemic surrounding Valdivia] is bad luck and some if it is related to the fact that they should have never built the plant there in first place.”


    Found on this blog: PULP Inc. http://pulpinc.wordpress.com
    Chris Lang’s notes on the global pulp and paper industryopyright stuff

    Archive for the ‘CELCO’ Category
    World Bank consultant says CELCO’s Valdivia mill should never have been built there
    Published October 2nd, 2006

    Neil McCubbin is a former pulp and paper engineer turned consultant. Earlier this year he was hired by the World Bank as a member of a panel of consultants to review the IFC’s cumulative impact studies of the Botnia and Ence pulp mills in Uruguay.

    In May 2006, he gave a presentation at RISI’s Latin American Pulp and Paper Outlook Conference in Brazil.

    “Latin American mills have generally been built very well,” McCubbin said , “but people outside the industry do not see that.” That’s probably because the people outside the industry are the ones living in the stench of the pulp mills.

    On CELCO’s Valdiva pulp mill in Chile, McCubbin said “Some of it [the polemic surrounding Valdivia] is bad luck and some if it is related to the fact that they should have never built the plant there in first place.”

    McCubbin explained that companies face a range of people from “concerned, rational observers” to the “lunatic fringe”. Greenpeace “tends to focus on emotion rather than fact” but Environmental Defense is an example of a scientifically rigorous NGO, according to McCubbin.

    He recommended that companies should spend 1% of project budgets on dealing with NGOs and should post as much information as possible on the internet.


    CELCO opens fourth pulp mill in Chile

    At the end of August 2006, Celulosa Arauco y Constitución (CELCO) opened its fourth pulp mill in Chile.
    The 858,000 t/yr mill is part of CELCO’s Nueva Aldea Forestry and Industrial Complex.
    The pulp mill cost US$1.4 billion and is in the valley of Itata, in the region of Bío-Bío, 400 kilometres south of Santiago.

    CELCO’s most controversial plant is in Valdivia where hundreds of black necked swans were killed as a result of waste from CELCO’s pulp mill.

    Before the pollution, the Cruces River wetlands was home to about 6,000 black-necked swans. Rather than adopting a closed loop system (or closing down altogether) CELCO denies responsibility. The company plans to build a pipeline to the sea.

    For villagers living in Mehuín this is an old story. The company started secret studies near their village 10 years ago. When the authorities approved the project in 1996 they gave CELCO the choice of dumping its waste in the river and installing a more modern system or simply dumping the waste via a pipeline out at sea.

    The sea was the cheaper option. But villagers from Mehuín launched a campaign “No to the pipeline” and prevented CELCO from carrying out studies for the pipeline. As a result, the government and the company decided to dump the effluent in the River Cruces. Once the river started to stink and the black-necked swans started dying, Ricardo Lagos, the then-president of Chile, suggested a solution: dumping CELCO’s waste via a pipeline out to sea.

    But the villagers of Mehuín continue to protest. For example, in August 2006, villagers from Mehuín prevented a CELCO boat from carrying out studies related to the pipeline. A navy vessel escorting CELCO’s boat opened fire on them.

    “The fishermen are asking: if the plant’s effluent polluted a wetlands ecosystem and killed hundreds of black-necked swans, why wouldn’t the waste pollute the waters where they ply their trade?” Manuel Baquedano, from the Institute of Political Ecology (IEP), told IPS.

    The Nueva Aldea pulp mill will dump its waste into the Itata River which provides water for more than 40,000 farmers. CELCO is proposing to build a pipeline to the sea, which will be completed in late 2007. Local people and environmentalists have protested against both options. Hardly surprising, really, given CELCO’s record.

    That’s why in Tasmania the above reports are very important for the future of our Island and its Community
    All the best for 2007!

  27. Tigdh Glesain

    December 24, 2006 at 12:37 pm

    We can ensure it does John, and with Mike’s permission, and if he has not already done so, might I suggest that we who are so inclined print the above letter off, and mail it to major newspapers, elected officials, the various ‘major interests’, and leave it conspicuous public meeting points.

    Thanks Mike for an amazingly well written article. We all know what is to come next, but thank you for placing yourself in the firing line by taking a stand.

  28. John Biggs

    December 24, 2006 at 11:34 am

    This is surely one of the most important articles on the pulp mill I have read. It should be published on a much wider front. Well done Mike.

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