13/05/2010 - 00:00

Air quality an issue for Muja

13/05/2010 - 00:00

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VERVE Energy’s Muja A/B coal-fired power station remains a bigger threat to maintaining air quality around Collie than larger coal-fired developments planned in the region, the state’s environmental watchdog has found.

Air quality an issue for Muja

VERVE Energy’s Muja A/B coal-fired power station remains a bigger threat to maintaining air quality around Collie than larger coal-fired developments planned in the region, the state’s environmental watchdog has found.

The view, contained in the Environmental Protection Authority’s conditional approval this week of a $3 billion urea plant planned at Collie, further jars with the authority’s decision last year not to assess the refurbishment of Verve’s mothballed Muja station.

The authority found that Perdaman Chemicals and Fertiliser’s coal-fuelled urea plant would be only a “minor contributor of emissions to the Collie airshed”.

The plant will gasify Collie coal to produce 2.1 million tonnes of high quality urea fertiliser a year. It will also emit 3.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, 560 tonnes of particulates and 360t of nitrogen oxides annually.

However, the EPA said emissions from Muja A/B would be the “main contributor to predicted exceedences (of emission standards) ... within the Collie airshed”.

Therefore, the EPA’s objectives would “only be met provided the emissions from the Muja A/B power stations are appropriately addressed during its refurbishment”.

The EPA also recommended conditions be placed on the urea project relating to its long-term plans for the capture and geo-sequestration of its significant carbon emissions.

In particular, it recommended that Perdaman advise it of progress toward implementation of geosquestration every five years, and that such technology should be implemented within five years of it becoming viable.

The EPA’s caveat on air quality hinging on improvements at Muja is the second time this year it has noted the potential impact of the 40-year-old power plant on air quality around Collie.

It made the same caveat in March when it approved a further expansion of the Bluewaters coal-fired power station proposed by the collapsed Griffin group.

Yet last October the authority declined to assess Verve’s plan for a $100 million refurbishment of the mothballed plant to provide peaking power at times of high demand.

Instead, the EPA recommended the project should proceed subject to normal works approvals.

A spokesman for Verve told WA Business News that the utility was committed to significantly improving Muja’s environmental performance as part of the extensive refurbishment program.

“Verve Energy is modelling Collie Basin air emissions with DEC (Department of Environment and Conservation) to ensure the Muja AB refurbishment project complies with the DEC environmental requirements,” he said.

“Verve Energy is aware of the urea plant project and it has been taken into account during the Collie Basin air emission modelling.”

Victoria’s Inalco Energy will fund the refurbishment in return for a half stake in Muja.

 

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