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The Christian leaders of the Tamar Valley, as represented by the Launceston Ministers' Fraternal (Launceston Christian Leaders Network) hold different personal positions about whether the Pulp Mill is going to be beneficial for Tasmania, and in particular- the Tamar Valley, but we each share deep concerns about the integrity of the proposal and assessment-

  • Is the information provided by the proponent truthful?

  • Is the counter-information promoted by opponents truthful?

  • How credible is the Sweco-Pic assessment of this proposal?

  • Is there a conflict of interest for the State Government as the promoter of the Pulp Mill and its ultimate Assessor?

  • Is there a conflict of interest for the Federal Government as part-financier of the Pulp and as an Environmental Assessor?

  • Was the RPDC Assessment taking too long and jeopardising the Proponent's commercial interests?

Our original recommendations within my report were-

We therefore recommend, that-

  • either the case be made on environmental grounds for the Longreach site through an independent assessment process or a more appropriate site for this Pulp Mill within Tasmania be found.          
    According to Dr. Warwick Raverty of the CSIRO (a pulp and paper mill research expert) this type of mill is completely unsuitable for its proposed site at Longreach. Other scientists disagree. But the growing community disquiet about the appropriateness of this site - which cannot simply be dismissed as a NIMBY (“not in my backyard”) protest since many of these locals originally welcomed the proposal.

  • timber to supply this Mill be supplied for a fair return to the Tasmanian public purse.
    Tasmanian Forestry is currently operated by a monopsony.

  • that any Pulp Mill at least comply with all of the Final Scope Guidelines.
    (This assures the highest environmental safeguards.)

  • no further Public money be given to this Project throughout the assessment process.
    Based on the latest economic cost benefit analyses, this Pulp Mill proposal is totally unviable if Federal and Sate Government financial incentives are removed. These include the discriminatory taxation regulations for Managed Investment Schemes in forestry, the mooted $90M Federal Government "Business Start Up" funding, possible Federal Government funding assistance for the Tamar Valley water and effluent pipe-line, and the indirect financial benefit derived by the proponent from the State Government's P.A.L. scheme.
  • that any further Government intervention not give the perception of seeking to bypass appropriate assessments, particularly if the assessment approvals are not forthcoming.          
    (If the Independent Assessor does not approve of this proposal, then the State Government would be unwise to simply pass legislation to bypass any further assessment processes.)

Dr. Andrew Corbett, 3rd May 2007
Pastor of Legana Christian Church

Some have questioned the role of churches in this debate. You can read more about this here. You can also watch our Youtube presentation of our concerns about this proposal by clicking here. We have held three formal meetings with Gunns management to express our concerns and hear their response. After releasing the second edition of Is This The Pulp Mill John West Would Reject? I was contacted indirectly by the Pulp Mill's Structural Manager, Mr Greg Stanford, who wanted to meet with me and discuss our concerns...

INTERVIEW WITH THE PULP MILL'S STRUCTURAL MANAGER, MR GREG STANFORD...

QUICK LINKS
Is This The Pulp Mill John West Would Reject? [May 2007] PDF
Revised Edition PDF
HTML Edition of Original Edition READ
HTML Edition of Revised Edition READ

Meeting with Mr Greg Stanford, Infrastructure Manager for the Gunns Pulp Mill Project, Monday 25th June, 2007. Readers are asked to weigh up Mr Stanford's comments and consider them in light of the counter-data presented to form our recommendations.

Greg Stanford is the Infrastructure Manager for Gunns Proposed Pulp Mill. He is a career engineer who worked for North Forest Products prior to it being acquired by his present employer. He was the first full-time employee on the Pulp Mill Project and has been closely involved with its proposal from its inception through to its Draft Integrated Impact Statement being lodged. He reports directly to Mr Les Baker, the Pulp Mill Project General Manager. He is also a committed Christian and member of St Aidan’s Anglican Church, Launceston.

After writing my paper, Is This The Pulp Mill John Would Reject? - Forming A Christian Response To The Proposed Pulp Mill”, I received an invitation to meet with Greg Stanford to have discussions with him. Greg said that he had read my revised paper and considered it a fair presentation of Gunns’ position and he also acknowledged that the concerns raised within it were reasonable but could be adequately addressed. He commended the paper for its Biblical presentation of the balance between development and environmental stewardship. He remarked that Mr Les Baker was also satisfied that the Ministers’ Fraternal of Launceston (representing the leading churches of Launceston and environs) were genuinely concerned about the proposal and assessment process, with no desire to sabotage any commercial interests. Our concerns with this Proposal have led us to attempt to distinguish the truth from the “misinformation” about this Project to contribute a response to our community as to whether this Project will be beneficial for our Valley.

Mr Stanford stressed that while the Pulp Mill Project would be of commercial benefit for his company, Tasmania would also be a beneficiary. He was confident that its economic benefit would have a significantly positive impact for all Tasmanians and this could include hospitals, teachers, roads and police according to what the government decided to spend the additional $700 million dollars worth of taxes on.

When asked about Gunns’ seeming lack of expertise in building and running a pulp mill, Mr Stanford responded by saying that Gunns Ltd had spent $15M by contracting the world’s leading pulp mill consultants, Jaakko Poyry, to design this Pulp Mill specifically to meet the RPDC Scope Guidelines. The world’s leading pulp mill manufacturer, Andritz (www.andritz.com) had also been engaged to build this Pulp Mill.

I queried why the RPDC’s Pulp Mill Assessor, Beca AMEC (www.becaamec.com), had reported to the RPDC that the proposed Pulp Mill would fail to meet some of the Scope Guidelines regarding environmental emissions. Mr Stanford pointed out that the Scope Guidelines assume a fuel-oil process to fire the lime kiln, whereas this Pulp Mill will be using natural gas, which means that it will have lower green house gas emissions than the oil-fuel process. The 1.3 Kg/ADT of pulp NOx emission limit is appropriate only to the fuel-oil process. Nevertheless,the mill will meet these guidelines written for fuel-oil mills under normal production conditions. However, Gunns will ask for a higher limit to cater for events with lower pulp production.

I asked Mr Stanford why the RPDC assessment process had been abandoned. He said that the company had become concerned that with the delays, there was no end in sight for the RPDC to reach a decision and that this was creating major economic pressures on Gunns. Gunns needed a defined timeline and the RPDC was unable, or unwilling, to provide this even though the project had been going for two and a half years.  Why were there such delays? During the first 12 months of preparation of the draft IIS, the extent of the scope guidelines were increasing.  The RPDC was under pressure from all sides and lacked the capacity to respond in a reasonable timeframe to Gunns which added the processing of pine to the project description.  Dr Warick Raverty who was the RPDC’s Pulp and Paper expert, lacked experience with the developments in pulp mills in the last decade and was very concerned about fugative emissions from his experience with older pulp mills.  He would have been influenced by the only other pulp mill to start up in Australia in recent years which was at Tumut.  This mill originally had no back up odour abatement system and consequently had 200 odour events in the first year of operation.  A back up system was subsequently installed in this mill to overcome this issue.  The Gunns mill will not have just one, as per the upgraded Tumut mill, but two back-up systems from start up.   As a response to the concern about fugative emissions, the Gunns’ will be the first pulp mill in the world using a Plate Heat Exchanger to cool effluent to avert the destruction of necessary microbes in the effluent treatment plant. Other mills use cooling towers which are a source of the fugative emissions.

Gunns submitted their Integrated Impact Statement to the RPDC on July 14th 2006. I asked Mr Stanford about this. “Did the RPDC give Gunns some time-table about when they could expect a decision?” I asked. “No, they refused to. Although they said that it would take at least nine months so that all public submissions could be adequately considered”, Mr Stanford said. “It looked to us like their assessment could take another eighteen months and even longer if the process gets bogged down through legal challenges by the Greens,” Mr Stanford added, “while this was unacceptable to us it became obvious that the delays could be longer when the head of the RPDC (Julian Green) retired.” “Was his retirement a surprise to you?” I asked. “No, it was well known in 2005 that he would be retiring in 2007” said Mr Stanford, “but we expected the assessment to be complete before his retirement.”

The delays encountered by Gunns were compounded by the RPDC’s failure to finalise their Scope Guidelines from the issuing of the draft Guidelines in December 2004 to their Final Scope edition in December 2005. Gunns had been led to believe that the RPDC would provide this Final Scope Guidelines early in 2005. “The RPDC were twelve months late in producing their Guidelines” Mr Stanford stated.

It became clear that Gunns had lost patience with the RPDC. This was further exacerbated when the RPDC claimed that the State Government’s Pulp Mill Task Force was “corrupting the RPDC’s assessment process”, Mr Stanford said.

I raised with Mr Stanford some of the independent assessments that were critical of the proposed Pulp Mill. The AMA had claimed that Gunns had understated their air emission figures by 500% and that air monitoring readings needed to be collected over a twelve month period rather than the ten month period included in the IIS, and that these readings should be collected from ten stations not one. Mr Stanford replied that the Guidelines required only one air monitoring station, and that 12 months data was in fact used in the model. Mr Stanford was not aware of the details of the AMA’s criticisms though. He was confident that the figures stated in the IIS were accurate since they were compiled by Dr Robin Ormorod of Pacific Air & Environment who is regarded as one of the world’s leading air emission control experts.

Mr Stanford also added that Dr Jim Markos’s (a Launceston based respiratory physician) criticisms of the Pulp Mill Proposal had been countered directly with him by Roger Drew (Australia’s only internationally accredited toxicologist).

Opponents of this project on pollution grounds should be consistent in their opposition by not using products from pulp produced in pulp mills with similar or greater environmental impacts other wise the world is worse off for their opposition.  However, they will not be able to purchase pulp products with lower environmental impacts than this mill. They should therefore stop using paper, disposable nappies, toilet paper, tissues etc.  They should not substitue other materials for these either because the possible substitutes are rarely renewable like pulp and paper”, Mr Stanford said, “This will be the lowest environmental impact Mill in the world! The Greens are not living up to their mantra of ‘ Think globally, act locally’ in this debate.

__________

FURTHER REFERENCES

Community Petition To Tasmanian MLCs A Request To MLC To Undertake Due Process In Their Final Assessment of the Pulp Mill Proposal
Sweco Pic Assessment http://www.justice.tas.gov.au/justice/pulpmillassessment
Gunns Ltd http://www.gunnspulpmill.com.au/

Pulp Mill Task Force

http://www.pulpmill.tas.gov.au/

Resource Planning Development Commission

http://www.rpdc.tas.gov.au/

Bank Track
Private Finance – Public Interest

http://www.banktrack.org/?show=dodgy&id=74

Source Watch-
Centre For Media & Democracy

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title= Evaluation_
of_the_Social_Impact_Assessment_of_the_
Gunns_Ltd_Bell_Bay_Pulp_Mill

Tamar Pulp Mill Information Site

http://www.tamarpulpmill.info/

 

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