06/10/2008 - 09:53

EPA recommends Binningup desal plant

06/10/2008 - 09:53

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The state environment watchdog has recommended a proposal by the Water Corporation for the development of a desalination plant at Binningup, with the final nod of approval now needed from new Environment Minister Donna Faragher.

EPA recommends Binningup desal plant

The state environment watchdog has recommended a proposal by the Water Corporation for the development of a desalination plant at Binningup, with the final nod of approval now needed from new Environment Minister Donna Faragher.

The Environmental Protection Authority today recommended the reverse osmosis seawater project which includes the construction of a 100 gigalitre desalination plant.

EPA chairman Paul Vogel said it is unlikely that the EPA's objectives would be compromised provided there is satisfactory implementation of the recommended conditions.

"Different layers of water with differing salinity levels with no mixing between them can result in the oxygen needed for marine life in one layer being depleted when the brine discharge from a desalination plant is not designed and diffused properly," Dr Vogel said.

"The modelling done for this proposal indicates that a deoxygenation event is very unlikely, but to be on the safe side monitoring of dissolved oxygen levels should be undertaken during the first year.

"The effects on marine mammals and habitat such as seagrass relating to the construction of the intake and outfall structures should be limited in area and duration, and best practice design and management measures should minimise impacts."

He added that the location and design of the project footprint was chosen to retain as much of the Western Ringtail Possum habitat and Banksia woodlands that are feeding trees for the Carnaby's Cockatoos.

Meanwhile Conservation Category Wetlands, considered to be 'critical' assets by the EPA, are likely to be impacted by construction and dewatering.

The EPA's recommendations follows a report that Premier Colin Barnett is considering a new site for the desalination plant after concerns were raised the plant would be too close to the town of Binningup

Mr Barnett said other sites would be considered if the development timetable is not altered, an issue that is being refuted by Water Corp chief executive Jim Gill.

The EPA report is subject to appeal until October 20, and will also be assessed separately by the Commonwealth government.

 

Below is the full EPA announcement:

 

The Environmental Protection Authority has recommended environmental approval for a proposal by the Water Corporation of Western Australia to construct and operate a reverse osmosis seawater desalination plant at Binningup, and released its recommendations, to Environment Minister Donna Faragher.

The proposal involves the construction and operation of a 100 GL desalination plant, marine inlet/outlet pipes and a Water Supply Pipeline to transport potable water to the Integrated Water Supply Scheme via a proposed storage facility near Harvey.

EPA Chairman, Paul Vogel, said that it is unlikely that the EPA's objectives would be compromised provided there is satisfactory implementation by the proponent of the recommended conditions.

'Different layers of water with differing salinity levels with no mixing between them can result in the oxygen needed for marine life in one layer being depleted when the brine discharge from a desalination plant is not designed and diffused properly,' Dr Vogel said.

'The modelling done for this proposal indicates that a deoxygenation event is very unlikely, but to be on the safe side monitoring of dissolved oxygen levels should be undertaken during the first year.

'The effects on marine mammals and habitat such as seagrass relating to the construction of the intake and outfall structures should be limited in area and duration, and best practice design and management measures should minimise impacts.'

'The location and design of the project footprint has been chosen to retain as much as possible of the Western Ringtail Possum habitat and Banksia woodlands that are feeding trees for the Carnaby's Cockatoos.

'The EPA considers that the proposed revegetation would provide future habitat including ecological linkages for theWestern Ringtail Possum and thus long-term genetic movement could be maintained.

Conservation Category Wetlands, considered to be 'critical' assets by the EPA, are likely to be impacted by construction and dewatering.

'The proponent has made a commitment to investigate a wetland restoration project or similar for the Kemerton Wetlands to offset any significant impacts on wetlands,' Dr Vogel said.

'To minimise greenhouse gas emissions the proponent has undertaken to use the most energy efficient technologies available and to source renewable energy for the plant's operation.

'If renewable energy is not available, the proponent will offset emissions using accredited carbon offsets.'

A Department of Environment and Conservation Works Approval and Licence will be required before the plant can be constructed and start operating.

The proposal will be assessed separately by the Commonwealth through a Public Environmental Report.

The EPA's report, available at www.epa.wa.gov.au is subject to appeal until close of business 20 October 2008.

Appeals will be considered by the Independent Appeals Convenor (9221 8711). The final decision will be made by the Minister for Environment.

 

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