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Approval Decision – Gunns pulp mill: Turnbull appoints pulp mill police: if Gunns fails, then tertiary treatment of effluent, and no start without Ministers approval

Posted by waterweek on 8 October 2007

An independent site supervisor (“the Independent Supervisor”) will be appointed to verify action, , managed by an Independent Expert Group, and provided by Gunns Limited with access to all information and locations required, as appointed as an Inspector under the Act with functions and powers under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulations 2000 sufficient to ensure appropriate access to all information required for the purpose of the task.

What the inspector inspects: Gunns Limited must develop and submit an Environmental Impact Management Plan (EIMP) for the Minister’s approval in accordance with the outline at Schedule 2. The objective of the EIMP must be to ensure no adverse impacts on matters of national environmental significance as a result of the action;

• The EIMP must include trigger points and maximum limits in relation to effluent discharge from the operation of the pulp mill as well as specific remedial management responses to be undertaken by Gunns Limited if trigger points are exceeded or maximum limits are reached. It shall be an operational objective of the pulp mill, and reflected in the EIMP, that trigger points, and maximum limits, are not to be reached;

• If at any time during the taking of the action there are reasonable grounds for any of Gunns Limited, the Minister, the Department, the Independent Expert Group or the Independent Supervisor to believe that the maximum limits for effluent discharge in this approval, or in the EIMP, are likely to be exceeded, then that party (if it is not Gunns Limited) shall immediately inform Gunns Limited. Once Gunns Limited has either been so informed or itself believes maximum limits are likely to be exceeded, it must immediately implement the response strategies in the EIMP, in accordance with the stipulated timeframes.

• If within the stipulated timeframe Gunns Limited is unable to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Minister that response strategies are achieving their objective as set out in the EIMP to reverse the undesirable impacts, the mill must cease to operate until such time as a tertiary treatment solution satisfactory to the Minister is installed;

• If at any time during the taking of the action the trigger levels for effluent discharge in this approval, or in the EIMP, are exceeded, then Gunns Limited must immediately implement the response strategies in the EIMP, in accordance with stipulated timeframes;

Independent Expert Group: The EIMP must be developed in consultation with an independent expert group (“the Independent Expert Group”), appointed by the Minister, drawn from leading national and international scientists with relevant expertise, to advise the Minister and the Department as required and assist in the design, implementation and approval of the EIMP;

More modelling needed: The EIMP may be submitted to the Minister in sections, it being recognised that some parts of the EIMP will need to be approved pre-construction, whereas other sections will require the completion of further studies including the hydrodynamic modelling.

No start without Ministers approval: No commissioning activity is to commence until the final and complete EIMP has been approved by the Minister. The EIMP must be completed and approved by the Minister within twelve months of this approval unless the Minister consents to an extension of time for the purpose of completing particular elements of the EIMP. The approved EIMP must be implemented by Gunns Limited; All provisions of this approval identified as required prior to and during construction must be implemented prior to the relevant stage of construction; Once approved, the EIMP must be implemented. Unless otherwise specified, Gunns Limited must submit an annual report of performance against the requirements of the EIMP as soon as practicable after 30 June in each year. The report must identify any requirements of the EIMP that have not been satisfied and appropriate strategies for meeting these requirements. The annual report must be independently audited by an appropriately qualified person agreed to by the Department. The annual report must be published by Gunns Limited within ten business days of the completion of the independent audit.

• Gunns Limited must comply with any requirements of the Minister in relation to the rectification of any performance failures identified in the annual report;

• Gunns Limited must ensure all relevant staff and contractors and any other persons working on the action receive appropriate training in relation to the requirements of this decision and comply with all the EIMP requirements relevant to their duties.

Further information, along with the Chief Scientist’s report, and information on the Chief scientist’s panel and Terms of Reference, is available on the Department’s website at http://www.environment.gov.au/epbc/pulpmill

Erisk Net, 4/10/2007

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