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

Environment

The failure of the Environmental Protection Authority

Dear Editor,

Back in March this year, 16th and 17th, Northern and North-Eastern Tas got smoked out – big time, again.

Immediately, planned burns in Vic, at Colac, were cited on local ABC radio, then Warren Jones came out and said it was ‘confirmed’ as from burns in E Gippsland.

This was prominently displayed on the EPA website. I recall that it was said that the EPA was investigating.

Nothing happened.

You might recall Tasmanian Times published an article from me called The Smoking Gun, HERE, which included a satellite photo clearly showing a trail of smoke stretching from the Mole Creek region eastwards across the island – almost as far as the East Coast.

Still there was silence from the EPA – meanwhile Warren Jones’ ‘Gippsland Explanation’ was left up on the EPA homepage.

After more than two weeks, I assembled all the evidence at my disposal and submitted it to the EPA – you can see it further below.

What gets me, Dear Editor, is that now – 2 months after the event – there is yet no public EPA report on how this smokeout occurred.

I have not had an acknowledgement/response to what I consider was a well-set-out and properly referenced complaint. I am far from happy with my failure to be acknowledged and with the general failure of the EPA to have produced a report on the matter.

In the attached photo, looking north west over the Tamar at Launceston, you can see the bank of smoke moving from the south/west of Launceston on 16th Mar before settling in the north-east by the next morning, 17th Mar.

Yet Warren Jones had claimed the smoke that was lying in every gully and fold of the NE had come from Victoria. Pigs’ Trotters! The truth is being much delayed. Can anyone help?

Garry Stannus,
Liffey

image
*Warren Jones

[Sunday 16 May 2010]
Board/EPA

As far as my records show, my message to you, at the beginning of April and regarding the smoke event in Northern Tas, around St Patrick’s Day, has not been acknowledged. I have had no response at all from the EPA regarding my communication to the Board/EPA.
I am including it again, below.

Yours faithfully,
Garry Stannus.

2 Apr 2010

To the Board of the EPA Tasmania:

I’m writing to the Board about the smoke that we experienced in the north of the state, on Tue 16th and Wed 17th of March.

I heard on ABC radio news on the Wednesday, that the smoke we experienced in the NE was from a burn in Colac, Vic and then later in the day I heard again on the radio that Warren Jones had ‘confirmed’ that the smoke was from East Gippsland. On the EPA website Mr Jones is quoted as saying that

“satellite photographs had revealed several large plumes of smoke over an extensive area from St Helens and the Fingal Valley to Launceston, the Tamar Valley and as far west as Ulverstone on Wednesday. The plumes have spread across the north of the state and appear to stem from the 90 Mile Beach area of East Gippsland in Victoria where a number of planned burns are in progress,”

HOWEVER:
The following satellite image Tue 6:59pm …
http://www.marine.csiro.au/remotesensing/MODIS/TRUECOLOUR/
Aqua20100316T042846Z20100316T044248Z.Tasmania_500m.HKM.jpg
… shows:

1 twin smoke streams drifting eastwards across Bass Strait towards Banks Strait, from 2 sources between Stanley & Sisters Beach –
2 two smoke streams drifting NE from an area – possibly Guildford
3 A cloud of smoke NE of Triabunna towards Coles Bay
4 A stream of smoke from the Mole Creek area which stretches eastwards into the Fingal Valley.

Warren Jones’s statement appears to ignore the evidence of domestic smoke across northern Tasmania the evening before. Through the ‘Tasmanian Times’ I have read accounts at variance with his scenario. In addition to reading that anecdotal evidence, I have myself compiled a variety of evidence which indicates that the smoke complained about, was domestic in origin. A large part of this I published in Tasmanian Times. Here are links to those and other relevant documents.

No Comment /John Hawkins 16/03/2010
http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php?/weblog/article/no-comment/

Forestry burns Tasmania … and Labor /Tim Morris, Angelika Allen, Clive Stott, Phil Lohrey, John Hawkins. 18/03/2010
http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php?/weblog/article/forestry-burns-labor/

SmokeWednesday.pdf /Garry Stannus 22/03/2010
http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/images/uploads/SmokeWednesday.pdf

Smoke over Chudleigh /John Hawkins 23/03/2010
http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php?/weblog/article/smoke-over-chudleigh/

The Smoking Gun /Garry Stannus 27/03/2010
http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php?/weblog/article/the-smoking-gun/

stannusSentinel_for_TT.doc /Garry Stannus Family 27/03/2010
http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/images/uploads/stannusSentinel_for_TT.doc

The Smoking Gun: Who gave the orders? /John Hawkins 29/03/2010
http://oldtt.pixelkey.biz/index.php?/weblog/article/john-hawk/

I am requesting that the EPA, if not already doing so, investigate the smoke in the north on those days in question and that it take into account the evidence* that is contained within the various links above.

I would like the EPA to give a full account of any fires that were burning in the state during that period, and that reference be made to times, directions of smoke trails and altitudes and to those responsible.

I request that the News Article on the EPA website, “Smoke from Victoria affecting Tasmania”, be removed immediately and that it be replaced with a note explaining that the EPA is now investigating advice from the community that the smoke on Tue 16th and Wed 17th of March was of local origin.

In conclusion, I would like to know what measures the EPA has taken so far to ensure that such a situation does not recur.

Your faithfully,
Garry Stannus

*evidence: included in links
-anecdotal in comments on Tasmanian Times
-photos taken in a number of locations
-satellite images
-analysis of weather patterns and wind directions
-Sentinel images showing Tasmanian hotspots

*Warren Jones picture; Read all about the EPA: HERE

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Malcolm

    May 17, 2010 at 4:09 pm

    I too have lodged formal complaints with both the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and Forest Practices Authority (FPA) regarding regeneration burns in the south of the State and called upon Federal and State Ministers to order an end to these burns and prosecute the perpetrators to the full force of the law.

    In its response the FPA was totally unapologetic and claimed that the “burns were carried out within the guidelines of the Co-ordinated Smoke Management Strategy”.

    By stark contrast, the EPA “believes that the impacts of smoke in the Huon during that period, in April this year particularly, are unacceptable from an environmental and public health perspective. We are talking the matter seriously and are analysing the data relating to the burns that occurred, and assessing air quality data and weather conditions to determine what happened and why.“

    Furthermore, the EPA “recognises that smoke from planned burning is a significant environmental issue for the community … and will continue to work to address these and other issues relating to planned burning and towards improved air quality outcomes.”

    In addition, “EPA has asked for an assessment from the EPA Division’s internal Compliance and Investigations Section in conjunction with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution on whether enforcement action is possible in relation to the incident. We are awaiting their advice.”

    However, the EPA has given no assurance that such smoke pollution will be prevented from occurring again and it is difficult to have any confidence in its enforcement role given that Forestry Tasmania has already publicly admitted responsibility for exceeding national air quality standards:

    http://www.forestrytas.com.au/branchline/branchline-april-23-2010/an-open-apology

    The EPA has also advised that “the Forest Practices Authority are the regulators of the forestry industry, not the EPA. However in light of the level of air quality impacts experienced, the EPA are investigating.” This arrangement is not satisfactory and the EPA, not FPA, should be mandated with investigating all environmental and pollution complaints regarding forest practices:

    I have therefore also lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman in the event of an unsatisfactory conclusion of the EPA’s investigations:

    http://www.ombudsman.tas.gov.au/how_to_make_a_complaint

  2. Pete Godfrey

    May 17, 2010 at 11:10 am

    Hi Garry good luck. I wrote an email to the EPA on the 3rd May because of an FT burnoff near Deloraine. There was temperature inversion at the time and the smoke just went up over longridge and into the Meander Valley. The air was rank in the valley with minimal visibility. I received a reply on the 17th May telling me that the EPA were snowed under with smoke complaints and they would look into it. Unfortunately the smoke has gone now. So I am not expecting much. Then again we may be suprised. Just be careful if you go down to the woods today though.

  3. phill Parsons

    May 17, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Well here you have the second example of a weakness in the EPA. The first was its abrogation of power over forestry activities.

    This could be a test for the green labor coalition if following the roundtable the EPA does not take over the FPA and propoerly oversee forestry activities. After all the FPA says there are so few breaches of the Code what could the problem be.

    The second outcome for the round table will be to find a way end the process of regeneration burning and to do so within very few years.

    It is unacceptable that as Tasmania’s population continues to climb outdated practices like burning up stored Carbon in agriculture or forestry operations are allowed to continue without penalty.

    Forestry has the option of mulching the trash or even pelletizing for controlled burning in power stations, creating a closed loop for carbon.

    Agriculture has compost or biochar or simply adding Nitrogen to stimulate breakdown of straw or they too could pelletize.

    At the end of the Premier’s Round Table Tasmanians will be able to measure success by seeing a completely restructured industry making largely solid and elaborately transformed wood products and a hugely expanded reserve system, Forestry Tasmania will be a real business and export woodchipping from native forests will be vastly reduced using mostly the limbwood that is currently burnt.

  4. john hawkins

    May 17, 2010 at 6:02 am

    Like the smoke Garry they hope that it will all just blow away.
    These faceless people have a Statutory Duty to perform.They should not be allowed to forget this important detail regarding their employment. If those responsible are incapable of making an informed response they should be promptly sacked.

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