23/01/2008 - 22:00

Exporters back Freo lead plan

23/01/2008 - 22:00

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Magellan Metals’ plan to transport lead through Fremantle port has received a boost with two of the states largest livestock exporters, Wellard Rural Exports and Meat and Livestock Australia, expressing confidence in the safety requirements outlined by th

Magellan Metals’ plan to transport lead through Fremantle port has received a boost with two of the states largest livestock exporters, Wellard Rural Exports and Meat and Livestock Australia, expressing confidence in the safety requirements outlined by the state government.

Environment Minister David Templeman announced last week a range of conditions Magellan must follow before it begins lead exports through Fremantle, following last year’s lead contamination scandal at Esperance.

Wellard Rural Exports managing director Steve Meerwald said he was confident the system would provide appropriate community safeguards.

“Given what’s happened in Esperance, it will be more regulated,” he said.

“I can’t imagine Magellen Metals will be allowed to proceed without meeting all the requirements.”

Mr Meerwald said while offensive trades created the most interest, importing hazardous materials, such as sodium cyanide and lead nitrate, was just the nature of the port.

“Our view is, operating what is seen as a noxious trade is still a valid trade, as is the export of lead,” he told WA Business News.

“There is a lot of noxious material coming through Fremantle and no-one bats an eye [sic] because it’s all bundled up in containers.

“We are reliant on so many imports; if we all lived in a world where everyone rejected what was happening in their environment, everything would grind to a halt.”

Mr Meerwald said the government should consider the transfer of scrap metal, cars and livestock trades to the proposed port developments at Cockburn Sound.

“There is an awareness by all parties that Fremantle port is reaching its capacity,” he said.

A Meat and Livestock Australia spokesman said it a safety issue that was rightfully determined by the government through the Environmental Protection Authority.

“We have faith that the EPA has thoroughly looked into the issue and that all safety concerns have been adequately addressed,” he said.

Fremantle Ports chief executive officer Kerry Sanderson said that, unlike the way lead exports were handled in Esperance, the new system required lead carbonate to be enclosed in sealed laminated bags and transported by rail in steel bolted sea containers. 

“The system proposed includes a requirement for air monitoring to be undertaken at Fremantle Port and adjacent to the transport route in relation to the containers containing the lead,” she said. 

Ms Sanderson said Fremantle Ports sought independent advice and believed the EPA assessment had taken into account all the issues raised and that the conditions attached to the approval for export through Fremantle were appropriate.

“These conditions, with the additional conditions imposed by the environment minister, would take the system proposed beyond best practice, which should help to ensure that public confidence would be restored in the management of this product,” she said.

Magellan Metals plans to truck the lead from its mine at Wiluna to Leonora, from where it will be transported by train to Fremantle.

A $5 million bond and the appointment of an independent auditor are among many conditions attached to the government’s approval of the plan.

Magellan said it accepted the additional conditions and was committed to their implementation prior to the resumption of exports.

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