EPA throws spanner into port dust up mix

WESTERN Australia’s environmental watchdog has recommended that all conditions regulating dust at BHP’s Port Hedland be placed under BHP’s existing contemporary Part V licence to make them more clearly enforceable, paving the way for the Big Australian to dust off its long-desired port expansion plans.
EPA throws spanner into port dust up mix EPA throws spanner into port dust up mix EPA throws spanner into port dust up mix EPA throws spanner into port dust up mix EPA throws spanner into port dust up mix

Nelson Point, Port Hedland.

The Environmental Protection Authority released its report into ministerial statements that set out the responsibilities for dust management at Finucane Island and Nelson Point, and found a single regulatory mechanism to manage dust emissions and discharges at the port would remove duplication and overlap and improve transparency and compliance.

The report forms part of an inquiry by the EPA on changing the operating conditions for BHP in response to BHP's 2015 application to increase its throughput from 270 million tonnes per annum to 290Mtpa.

EPA chairman Dr Tom Hatton said there were overlaps between conditions in ministerial statements and operating licences issued by the DWER.

He said that led the EPA to recommend that all conditions regulating dust in BHP's Port Hedland operations be placed under the existing contemporary Part V licence, making the regulation more clearly enforceable.

Hatton said BHP's ministerial conditions were established in 1996 and 2007, however, they had been updated by DWER licences, and it made sense to take a more clear approach and remove duplication, so there was a sole regulatory instrument to manage dust in Port Hedland.

He said the EPA would continue to assess new proposals and schemes and provide public advice on those that may have a significant impact on the environment.

BHP's expansionism is likely to reignite stiff local opposition, which will have been galvanised by the release of the Port Hedland Dust Management Taskforce's report to government in August showing that 24 hour particulate matter (dust) concentrations regularly exceeded the air National Environmental Protection Measure of 50 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

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