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Dear HtS Supporter

Halt the Salt

Newsletter #9
18 April 2008


Welcome back to the campaign for 2008!

It's been a long haul since we started two years ago, but the Halt the Salt Alliance remains determined in our opposition to Straits Resources’ salt mine proposed in the environmentally-sensitive Exmouth Gulf area.

The public response to our campaign has been overwhelming. More than 3,000 people have already formally objected to the proposal and we expect many more will join as more information on the massive risks to the environment is revealed.

New video evidence supports our case

The Alliance has prepared new video evidence supporting our position that Straits’ proposal could starve much of the Gulf ecosystem of its vital natural resources.

The aerial footage was taken over the proposed salt mine site during a three-day rainfall event caused by tropical cyclone Pancho that took place in the area three weeks ago.

It clearly demonstrates how the extensive Yannarie delta system floods out transporting sediment and vital nutrients into the marine environment along the entire length of the Gulf’s eastern shore.

The nutrient flush from these rainfall events is captured within the mangrove, seaweed and seagrass habitats, allowing them to function like a battery, fixing and gradually resupplying nutrients and energy for the marine environment.

The complex system of rock retaining walls proposed as part of Straits’ project would act as a barrier to this important process, radically altering the natural ‘flood-out’ pattern and artificially redirecting the flow of sediment and nutrients.

The video footage and still photographs are being provided to the Environmental Protection Authority, the government agency formally assessing Straits’ proposal.

Straits Resources has previously sought to refute the importance of these rainfall events and has claimed they are a rare occurrence. But the new footage again demonstrates the importance of these recharge events to the Exmouth Gulf eco-system.

This is the first time since the Halt the Salt Campaign commenced two and a half years ago that we have had a significant rainfall event over Yannarie Creek catchment despite six cyclones having been in the vicinity since that time.

But this just underlines the sporadic but critical nature of these events. Of the six, all were closer to Exmouth gulf than TC Pancho which was 700 km to the west of Ningaloo. But TC Pancho was the one! 380mm of rain in one day at North West Cape!

Rainfall events since the Cylone Bobby event have been:
Cyclone details since 1995.
TC Bobby Feb 1995
TC Frank Dec 1995
TC Vance Mar 1999
TC Steve Mar 2000
TC Pancho March 2008 (trough triggered by cyclone 700km off the coast) (268mm over 4 days at Learmonth Airport 20 km south of Exmouth)

Also, in June 2002 a low pressure system caused 89mm of rain to fall in Exmouth in 4 hours. As a consequence, flood waters from the town of Exmouth broke through as a fast flowing torrent into the marina, causing 2 prawning trawlers to turn turtle in their cyclone proof pens.

All these cyclones had rainfall in excess of 200mm associated with them.

You can view the evidence on our site at the Yannarie Creek Floods page
Further submissions presented

The Alliance has presented further technical submissions to the Environmental Protection Authority in response to additional documentation that was released by Straits Resources for a very limited four-week public comment period.

The documentation - Additional Flora and Vegetation Assessment, Subterranean Fauna Assessment and Hope Point Habitat Mapping - should have been part of the initial release of Straits’ Environmental Review Management Plan over a year ago.

The proponent must now respond to all new information raised and detail these responses to the EPA which will continue its assessment process.

Claims of modified proposal are a furphy

The intense public opposition to the project has forced Straits into providing a public response to some of your concerns.

On its website, the company describes this response as a "modified proposal", but in fact it is simply a re-statement of the first stage of its project.

From the outset, in its Environmental Review Management Plan (ERMP), Straits stated that it was "planning to develop a 10 million tonne per annum (Mtpa)" operation "with start-up capacity of 2.5 to 3 Mtpa".

The ERMP remains the base documentation that the EPA is evaluating. Straits' intention to ramp up the project to 10Mtpa was also re-stated by the company at a stakeholder reference group meeting held in June 2007.

But now Straits' spin doctors, concerned by the growing public opposition, are trying to suggest they have "modified" the proposal and are only seeking to develop a 4Mtpa operation.

This is merely a desperate attempt to get around a political problem by trying to gain approval in stages. It will not work. In fact their "modified" proposal actually comprises an expanded barge harbour and increased dredging.

The Alliance's position remains clear - the risks to the environment are too great.

It doesn't matter how much spin Straits uses or how much it tries to breakdown its project/application - its "modified" proposal still poses the same unacceptable risks to marine life, the environment, eco-tourism and sustainable fishing industries in the region.

Your support and involvement in our opposition to this proposal continues to be crucial.

Please take the time to view our website at www.haltthesalt.org.au to find out more about the risks associated with the project and how to express your opposition.
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.

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.

MG Kailis logo Recfishwest logo CCWA logo

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


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