Mill un­der scru­tiny

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Madi­son Wil­liams

PUB­LIC con­cerns about dust emis­sions from the Moss­man Sugar Mill have come to a head, with coun­cil be­ing in­un­dated with com­plaints con­cern­ing the im­me­di­ate area around the mill. De­spite the fact it claims no re­spon­si­bil­ity for the dust emis­sions, gen­eral man­ager of op­er­a­tions Paul Hoye said coun­cil has been mon­i­tor­ing con­di­tions of the Moss­man pool that res­i­dents have ex­pressed con­cern over.

“Coun­cil’s En­vi­ron­men­tal Health Unit is mon­i­tor­ing and test­ing con­tam­i­nants in the Moss­man pool to as­cer­tain if it presents a risk to pub­lic health,” he said. “Coun­cil is aware the pool man­agers are us­ing all avail­able means to en- sure the pool is kept as clean as pos­si­ble in the cir­cum­stances.

“With coun­cil’s as­sis­tance, the pool has ac­quired a new more ef­fec­tive au­to­matic vac­uum cleaner and the man­agers are ad­just­ing the fil­tra­tion sys­tem when nec­es­sary to cope with the ad­di­tional con­tam­i­na­tion load.”

Moss­man Mill gen­eral man­ager Haydn Slat­tery said the mill has been work­ing to fix the is­sue since 2013.

“There’s been a lot of dis­cus­sion lately around our stack emis­sions, we are work­ing with the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Her­itage Pro­tec­tion to ad­dress them and they will meet stan­dards by the start of next sea­son,” he said.

“Two years ago we spent just over $1.5 mil­lion re­fur­bish­ing the smaller boiler that saw a re­duc­tion in our emis­sions by 50 per cent.

“Ob­vi­ously peo­ple have con­cerns that the mill isn’t do­ing any­thing. We’re spend­ing $4 mil­lion to fix this is­sue, we’re not ig­nor­ing it.

“Some of th­ese things can’t be fixed over night.”

The mill operates un­der an En­vi­ron­men­tal Author­ity (EA) for the milling of sugar is­sued by the Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Her­itage Pro­tec­tion (EHP). The EA, which con- tains con­di­tions in­clud­ing air qual­ity emis­sion lim­its, iden­ti­fied a prob­lem with dust emis­sion stan­dards from the sugar mill’s boiler stack in 2013.

“As a re­sult, Moss­man Mill sub­mit­ted a vol­un­tary Tran­si­tional En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­gram (TEP), ap­proved by EHP, which out­lined a pro­gram of works to bring the mill back into com­pli­ance by De­cem­ber 2016,” said a spokesper­son for EHP.

“The TEP af­fords the com­pany a rea­son­able op­por­tu­nity to re­turn the mill to com­pli­ance with­out the threat of en­force­ment ac­tion, while also set­ting mile­stones that must be achieved and com­plied with as work pro­gresses.”

The mill ac­knowl­edged it has had sev­eral com­plaints from res­i­dents but stresses that it is ded­i­cated to the re­duc­tion of said emis­sions, claim­ing they will be in com­pli­ance with EHP reg­u­la­tions by Jan­uary 2016 af­ter the in­stal­la­tion of the sec­ond dust col­lec­tor.

In the mean­time coun­cil has bor­rowed air mon­i­tor­ing equip­ment from the Mac­quarie Univer­sity in NSW.

Peo­ple con­cerned about dust emis­sions from the Mill are en­cour­aged to phone the EHP pol­lu­tion on 1300 130 372.

Ob­vi­ously peo­ple have con­cerns that the mill isn’t do­ing any­thing. We’re spend­ing $4 mil­lion to fix this is­sue, we’re not ig­nor­ing it. Haydn Slat­tery

Pic­ture: MADI­SON WIL­LIAMS

Moss­man Mill man­ager Haydn Slat­tery

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