EPA Recommends Approval for Bunbury Port Development Plan (Australia)
The proposal by Lanco Resources Australia Pty Ltd to develop a coal storage and loading facility at Berth 14A will have the capacity to export 15 million tonnes of coal per year from Bunbury Port.
The coal will be sourced from the proposed expansion of Griffin Coal’s operations in the Collie Basin.The proposal includes the development of a berth pocket and associated on-shore coal storage and export infrastructure. To control dust, coal will be stored in large sheds and transferred to ships in enclosed conveyors. This is considered to be industry best practice.
EPA Chairman Paul Vogel said the proposal is consistent with the Bunbury Port Authority’s Inner Harbour structure plan, which was currently being assessed separately by the EPA as a Strategic Proposal and aimed to guide future development and decision making within the Inner Harbour.
Dr Vogel said the Lanco Resources proposal was assessed at the highest level due to the potential impacts on several environmental factors including marine fauna, marine environmental quality, and air quality.
Dr Vogel said the proponent modified the proposal in a number of areas, which would allow it to meet the EPA’s objectives for several key environmental factors provided recommended conditions are implemented.
Modifications included committing to dry-land piling and excavation rather than marine pile driving wherever possible to reduce underwater noise emissions on marine mammals. The proponent will only construct one ship loading facility to minimise noise impacts on nearby residents.
“The proponent has also ensured the presence of marine fauna observers during marine construction activities and committed to undertaking visual boat-based dolphin monitoring following construction,” Dr Vogel said.
Dr Vogel said the construction of the berth pocket would involve the dredging of up to 1.9 million cubic metres of sediments. Dredge material would be deposited in Commonwealth waters subject to requirements of Australia’s Sea Dumping Act.
“Dredging during the construction phase of the proposal has a low risk of impacting marine environmental quality,” Dr Vogel said. “However, there will be temporary plumes in the bay from dredging from time to time.”
Dr Vogel said dredging would be banned between November 1 and March 31 to reduce impacts on Koombana Bay during the peak recreation and tourism season.
“In addition, the EPA has recommended the proponent keep the public informed throughout the dredging program by publishing on a weekly basis the actual extent of the dredge plume. This is in addition to monitoring and evaluating the water quality,” he said.
The 12 recommended conditions also include:
– Restricting the timing of rock fracturing (blasting) operations so they do not coincide with dolphin calving periods between October 1 and May 31 in any year;
– The establishment of marine fauna exclusion zones to apply to dredging, blasting and marine pile driving; and implementing a Dolphin Monitoring Plan to confirm there are no long-term effects on the abundance and distribution of the Bottlenose Dolphin in Koombana Bay.
The EPA’s report to the Minister for Environment is now open for a two-week public appeal period, closing July 31, 2013.
Press Release, July 17, 2013