Web Masters please use this button to link back to this site



MEDIA statement

Monday, 12 March 2007

Extensive scientific evidence presented to EPA

More than 2,200 local and international submissions have been made to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) calling for the rejection of plans to build one of the world’s largest salt mines along the environmentally-sensitive Exmouth Gulf.

Overwhelming opposition to the proposed project, both from within Australia and internationally, has resulted from the ‘Halt the Salt’ public information campaign initiated by a unique alliance of peak environmental associations, commercial fishing and pearling industry bodies and the peak recreational fishing body.

Today is the deadline for public submissions to be provided to the EPA in response to mining company Straits Resources’ Environmental Review and Management Program.

Alliance spokesman and Conservation Council of WA director Chris Tallentire said the ‘Halt the Salt’ campaign had been a huge success, attracting widespread concern and opposition to the project which posed a massive risk to the delicate marine life and existing sustainable industries in the region.

“The international interest in particular has been remarkable – but not surprising – given that Straits has failed to detail how it will dispose of toxic waste or how the water quality or marine life in the Gulf will be affected,” Mr Tallentire said.

“With public submissions closing today, we hope the EPA will now consider all the risks and the devastating impact the project will have on the local economy, the marine life and the valuable eco-tourism in the region and block approval for the project,” he said.

The Alliance has submitted a detailed submission to the EPA and each member organisation within the alliance has also submitted independent submissions on specific environmental issues stating why the proposed project should be scrapped.

“The scientific evidence and arguments expressed publicly by internationally-recognised experts are a clear demonstration that the Alliance is not alone in its concerns and Straits is risking damage to an environment that it knows little about.”

A range of submissions have also been made by individuals, research bodies, educational institutions and commercial ventures who argue the proponents do not have a full understanding of the Exmouth Gulf environment, have failed to address basic questions and are unaware of the impact they could make.

Wetlands expert Dr Vic Semeniuk, environmental hydrogeologist Dr Colin Walker, former Department of Fisheries research director Dr Jim Penn and marine ornithologist Dr Nic Dunlop have also detailed significant risks to the sensitive environment and the failure of the proposal to address these risks.

The MG Kailis Group, one of the largest commercial fishing operations and employers in the Exmouth region, and Recfishwest, the State’s peak recreational fishing body, which form a part of the Alliance, back the concerns.

MG Kailis Group Compliance and Projects Manager Stephen Hood and Recfishwest Executive Director Frank Prokop said the ERMP had failed to alleviate numerous concerns with the proposal.

“This mine poses a massive risk to the existing sustainable fishing, aquaculture, pearling and tourism industries of the region,” Mr Hood said.

“Fishing and aquaculture are highly dependent on the maintenance of high water quality and of the
natural ecological processes driving marine productivity. All these activities will be threatened by
the proposed project, yet the ERMP dismisses the risks as ‘ relatively minor’, Mr Prokop said.

The Alliance also said the millions of dollars spent each year by Australian and international visitors to WA’s unique coral coast would also be under threat by the proposed salt mine.

The potential outcomes of the proposal include the following:

  • The proposed salt mine would potentially secure an average ten year salt price of $23/tonne – a poor return compared to other local products such as pearls and prawns which rely on the existing pristine environment for their ongoing viability.
  • Commercial and recreational fisheries will see a reduction in recruitment as a consequence of changes to habitat structure and foodwebs resulting from this proposal.
  • Three hundred (300) jobs in the region could be at risk from the proposed project.
  • Sustainable industries worth more than $165 million annually in the region are at risk.
  • Dredging and ship-loading activities could seriously degrade critical habitats for threatened Dugongs and Green Turtles.
  • There are no decommissioning plans or commitments detailed, leaving the WA taxpayer exposed to the astronomical costs of restoration.
  • The excavated inland harbour may expose significant areas of acid generating sulphides as well as removing mangrove and algal mat habitat.
  • The silty bottom of the eastern Gulf is likely to be mobilised by repeated dredging operations smothering marine producer habitats.
  • The 300 metre-long Panamax bulk carriers, barges and service vessels are likely to increasingly disturb and disrupt the use of the area by megafauna such as Humpback Whales, Dugongs and Sea-Turtles. The international shipping may transport exotic marine pests from high-risk regions.

Media contacts
Chris Tallentire, Conservation Council of WA 0418 955 191
Stephen Hood, MG Kailis Group 0418 901 048



Halt the Salt Campaign - Web Manager: Dave Graham, Web hosting: ozup.com Images copyright Wags and Kelly
Halt the Salt Privacy statement