Council questions mine rehab
A South Australian council has slammed the rehabilitation of coal-fired power stations and their ash dams.
Port Augusta City Council has made a 22-page submission to a Senate inquiry saying that both the State and Federal Government have failed to help in the wake of the the closure of the Northern Power Station, which had been one of the city's biggest employers.
It also says that Flinders Power, a subsidiary of Alinta Energy, has not protected the local environment following the closure.
Alinta Energy closed the power station in 2016 when it stopped being financially viable.
“Efforts by the local community and the council to engage both the Commonwealth and State Government to fast-track opportunities and employment transition … proved frustrating and largely ineffective,” the submission said.
Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson said the Federal Government has not helped the city transition away from its coal-fired past.
“Whereas you look at the announcement of the Hazelwood power station, you had about a 24-hour response time from the Federal Government with a $43 million assistance package,” Cr Johnson said.
The submission said “cynicism felt by the Port Augusta community” had been created by the “inequity when considering the level of support received by other communities facing closure of local coal-fired power stations”.
“The resulting loss of jobs, income and disruption to the local economy was similar to the loss of any major employer and industry from a regional community.
“Experience to date clearly highlights the failure of central governments … to protect and support local communities and the environment and to ensure corporations are compelled to honour their legal and moral obligations.”
The submission also questioned attempted ash dam remediation at the power station site.
It accuses Flinders Power of failing to mitigate against dust storms.
In October 2016, Flinders Power used a chemical dust suppressant to control fly ash, but in December 2016, severe storms “compromised the chemical dust suppressant seal”.
“Despite these weather events being forecast well in advance, Flinders Power appeared unprepared,” the submission said.
“[It had] no dust suppressant or aerial re-application on standby and no warning to the community to prepare for potentially hazardous conditions.”
It says Alinta Energy wanted to liquidate Flinders Power “as soon as the reorganisation measures related to the ceasing of activities … had been completed”.
“This leaves the Port Augusta community with little confidence that any contamination and ongoing site monitoring will be undertaken.”
Flinders Power has made its own submission, which it expects will be published “in due course”.