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Dear HtS Supporter

Halt the Salt

Newsletter #6 
23 June 2007



This month we can reveal that the company behind the proposal to build one of the world’s largest salt mines in Western Australia's highly sensitive Exmouth Gulf area has been forced into an embarrassing public back-down.

Straits Resources has been forced to clarify misleading comments it had made with regard to its claims of scientific endorsement for its proposed salt mine by two of Australia’s leading science organisations.

The retraction resulted from queries by the Halt the Salt campaign and is an indication that companies cannot be allowed to make unsubstantiated and misleading claims to the public.

We continue to call on your support to provide submissions – and help launch a postcard campaign – to oppose the proposed salt mine project in the Exmouth Gulf.

Straits forced to back down on scientific support for proposed salt mine

During the recently-completed public submission period into Straits Resources’ salt mine proposal, the company issued a media statement in which it claimed support from two Australian scientific organisations.

Straits claimed the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) had endorsed and undertaken research on the environmental and economic sustainability of the salt mine project, when neither organisation had ever supported research or endorsed the project.

Both AIMS and CSIRO demanded Straits issue a statement retracting its misleading comments about their alleged endorsement of the project. An excerpt of the statement is below:

’Any implication from previous statements that the CSIRO had peer reviewed and endorsed the research underpinning the ERMP is incorrect.’

Similarly, it was mistakenly inferred in previous Straits Salt press releases that the Australian Institute of Marine Science had undertaken research specifically for the Yannarie Solar proposal and that the Institute endorsed the project.

Alliance spokesman and Conservation Council of WA director Chris Tallentire said it was appalling that Straits would mislead the public about scientific support for its disastrous plan to build a salt mine in one of the world’s most fragile marine life systems.

He said Straits actions were socially irresponsible, particularly because they occurred during the period when the public was being asked to consider all available information from the company in making comment to the relevant authorities.

"The organisations concerned were rightly outraged that their names would be used in this misleading manner and the campaign congratulates them for acting to set the record straight," Mr Tallentire said.

"Unfortunately the company was not so forthright, choosing to bury the retraction/clarification at the bottom of another misleading media statement posted on its website."

"Following discussions with the Environmental Protection Authority, the Alliance is satisfied that the relevant authority has also seen through Straits' 'spin'. "

"The company is obviously desperate and lacks the information, scientific credibility and community support for its project."

 Keep submissions coming

One of the reasons the Halt the Salt campaign has been so successful to date is the number and quality of the submissions that have been presented to government in opposition to Straits’ proposed salt mine.

To date more than 2,900 submissions have been presented – and with your continued support we envisage we will have presented more than 4000 submissions to the EPA and Premier Alan Carpenter by the end of the year.

It is important that scientific arguments are supported by the concerns of members of other community groups and the general public who live or visit the region, have an affinity with it or simply care about the environment we will be leaving future generations.

We have made this easy for you to comment by providing a pro-forma submission to which we encourage you to add your own comments.

Straits has work cut out responding to weight of scientific argument

Please be aware that Straits Resources is still required to undertake a significant amount of further work to complete the EPA’s decision-making process on this proposal.

Straits must release further supplementary documentation on the potential impacts of the proposed project that will be open for public comment.

Straits must also respond to all submissions made to the EPA, including detailed submissions from the Halt the Salt Alliance, government agencies and many other scientific groups, communities and individuals.

The Alliance is in regular contact with the EPA in order to keep everyone informed of the timeframes that will be involved. However, the complexity of the arguments that have been presented against Straits proposal will mean at least another four to six months before the company can fully and properly attempt to respond.


What you can do to support the campaign

Growing numbers of people from Australia and overseas, determined to help protect this unique environment, are making their views known to the Western Australian Government via the pro-forma submission.

Personalised letters, faxes or phone calls to politicians are also very important and the Alliance website has a full list of contact details.

Another good way of putting your views across is to write a Letter to the Editor and again the Alliance has details of how to make contact with the State’s major newspapers or you can spread the word via your own local community newspaper

You can find out more about the extensive support for the campaign by visiting the About Us and Links sections on the website.

Email your friends and associates asking them to participate.

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WEBSITE www.conservationwa.asn.au E-MAIL: [email protected] 
ABN 35 982 476 107




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