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Yara Pilbara's compliance with EPBC

Estimates & Committees
Scott Ludlam 7 Feb 2013

Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications
Legislation Committee
Answers to questions on notice
Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities portfolio
Supplementary Budget Estimates, October 2012
Program: Division or Agency: 5.2: EACD Question
No: 156

Topic: Yara Pilbara's compliance with EPBC
Proof Hansard Page and Date
or Written Question: Written

Senator Ludlam asked:
1. How closely has the Department been monitoring Yara Pilbara's compliance with EPBC conditions for their new ammonium nitrate plant (Burrup Nitrates Pty Ltd) on the Burrup?

2. There is currently no independent monitoring system in place to measure the toxic emissions from plants such as Burrup Fertlisers, the N-W Shelf Joint Ventures, Woodside's Pluto plant and the pending Burrup Nitrates plant. What action will the Minister take to speed up the process of re-instating the monitoring program.

3. Can the Minister provide a response to the Assessment Report prepared by the Western Australian EPA on the Yara Pilbara ammonium nitrate plant which concluded emissions from the proposed plant were ‘unlikely to have a significant impact on the rock art'.

4. Is the Minister aware the Assessment report is under dispute by the organisation Friends of Australian Rock Art (FARA) because, among other reasons, the air monitoring stations operated for just four years and were disbanded in 2010, and monitoring was done during periods when Burrup Fertilisers was non-operational.

5. Burrup Nitrates recently applied for a Section 18 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act. Can the Minister outline whether this will involve the removal / destruction of any Aboriginal rock art protected under National Heritage listing.


1. The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (the department) has an active monitoring program which includes monitoring inspections, desk top document reviews and audits. As part of this program the department undertakes ongoing review of the approval requirements for Burrup Nitrates Pty Ltd (BNPL) proposed technical ammonium nitrate production facility approval (EPBC 2008/4546), dated14 September 2011.  The department is currently considering a number of management plans required by the project's approval.

2. When assessed under national environment law, each project is considered on a projectby-project basis. Where appropriate, conditions of approval will require management measures for toxic emissions that may result in significant impact on matters of national environmental significance. BNPL's approval (EPBC 2008/4546) requires an air quality monitoring program in order to protect the values of the Dampier Archipelago (including Burrup Peninsula) National Heritage Place. The monitoring program requires collection of air quality baseline data for
two years, and then five years of air quality monitoring once operations commence. The monitoring program is required to be undertaken by a suitably qualified air quality expert and is required to detect, manage and report emissions that may pose a threat to relevant matters of national environmental significance. Woodside Energy Ltd's proposal to develop and operate the Pluto Gas Field (EPBC 2006/2968) was approved on 12 October 2007 with 14 conditions of approval. These conditions include the requirement to develop, have approved and implement
management plans that will detect and where necessary, respond to toxic emissions. Burrup Fertilisers Ammonia Plant (EPBC 2001/199) was determined not to be a controlled action on 2 April 2001, as the referred action was considered unlikely to result in a significant impact on matters of national environmental significance.

3. Assessment of proposed actions under national environment law assesses the likelihood of significant impact on matters of national environmental significance through a number of considerations. The Western Australia Environmental Protection Authority's (WA EPA)
Report and Recommendations for the Burrup Nitrates Pty Ltd Technical Ammonium Nitrate Production Facility was considered by the Minister's delegate during the assessment of the proposed action under the EPBC Act. A number of management plans and monitoring programs will require BNPL to closely monitor their impacts before and during operation of the technical ammonium nitrate production facility.

4. The approval of BNPL's proposed technical ammonium nitrate production facility has strict environmental conditions. Monitoring of air quality is required two years prior to operation to collect baseline data, and for five years during operations of the facility. BNPL is required to undertake air quality monitoring at three sites that were previously used in the WA DEC/CSIRO air quality monitoring program. These sites will monitor levels of ammonia, nitrogen oxides, sulphur oxides and total suspended particulates.

5. Ministerial Consent under Section 18 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act is a matter for the Government of Western Australia's Department of Indigenous Affairs to consider.

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