MEDIA STATEMENT FROM FLINDERS POWER
There has been some conjecture regarding the effectiveness of Flinders Power’s closure works on the Augusta Power Station ash storage area.
In planning for the delivery of a safe, stable and self-sustaining landform for the ash storage area, Flinders Power sought advice – from around the world – from independent environmental, hydrological and ecological experts. While a number of alternate options were considered, the preferred approach from all experts involved covering the ash surface with soil and seeding it with species of native shrubs and grasses best suited to the site and collected from across the region. This long term rehabilitation approach, incorporating a Dust Management Plan and Trigger Action and Response Plans, has been jointly reviewed and approved by the Environment Protection Authority and other regulatory bodies.
The site covered and seeded last year is displaying good progress – with plant growth at varied rates across the site. However, the limited rain over the last year has limited germination. Independent ecological reviews of the site suggest that the approach is progressing as expected (given the limited rain), and there is confidence that rainfall over the coming months will provide the required vegetation growth.
The bottom ash stored in the Ash Storage Area is an inert non-toxic by-product from the coal combustion process. The ash can and does support plant growth, as already evidenced at several locations across the site. A capping layer of soil was chosen to prevent ash dust generation and to provide an ideal growth medium for plants. Given the site is flat, water erosion is not predicted to be a concern. A minimum 150mm capping layer of soil was deemed by experts to be a suitable capping layer and – over a 273ha site almost the size of the Adelaide CBD – represents a huge volume of soil. Commentary regarding leachate from the Ash Storage Area impacting the nearby gulf is contrary to the extensive evidence, including groundwater, surface water, mangrove and seagrass monitoring spanning decades.
The ash surface has now been largely covered (230ha of the 270ha site completed) with soil sourced from the Flinders Power’s site. No ash dust has emanated from the site since the extreme weather events of 1 and 2 January 2017. Flinders Power continues to proactively prepare for inclement weather, and respond to actual high wind events in accordance with approved plans. High winds may at times cause some partial lift off of the red soil. However, this can – and does – occur across the region and is not restricted to the site.
Since the closure announcement, Flinders Power has engaged extensively with the Port Augusta community and key stakeholders. The company invited local residents to register for regular tours of the site to see directly the work that has been completed and the vegetation growth to date. Over the last six weeks, over 130 local people have visited the site and more tours are being arranged for coming weeks. These tours are in addition to regular Community Reference Group meetings that cover site closure works and matters raised by the community.
Flinders Power remains committed to the agreed closure obligations and the delivery of a safe, stable and self-sustaining landform across the former ash storage area. Flinders will continue to manage the site in accordance with its agreed fully-funded plans, including the Post-Completion Monitoring and Maintenance Plan that is required as part of the approval process.
MEDIA CONTACT: Chris Rann 0418 832 512