GUNNS LTD PROPOSED PULP MILL ON THE TAMAR RIVER - THE ISSUES DISCUSSED - Updated 22/7/2014

The Tamar valley from Brady's Lookout. (All images of the Tamar valley were taken by the author and can be used without permisssion for any purpose)

This site has been set up in response to the proposal to site a kraft pulp mill at LONGREACH on the Tamar river, an area of great natural scenic beauty with a population of 100,000 people, instead of at HAMPSHIRE, an unpopulated area surrounded by vast forests. This website has NO connection with any political party or with the Wilderness Society. The site has now been following this saga for over seven years.To see a timeline of developments, click on LATEST NEWS AND UPDATES.

Protest action at the site:




LATEST NEWS AND UPDATES.

WHY THE TAMAR VALLEY IS THE WORST POSSIBLE PLACE FOR A PULP MILL.

**********IF YOU LIVE IN THE TAMAR VALLEY OR LAUNCESTON YOU NEED TO READ THIS SITE**********

**********IF YOU ARE A COMPANY LOOKING AT INVESTING BACK OFF - THIS PROJECT STINKS **********

**********ANTI-PULPMILL ORGANISATIONS ARE STILL IN OPERATION AND WILL VIGOROUSLY OPPOSE ANY ATTEMPT TO RESURRECT THIS PROJECT WITH DIRECT ACTION AND INTERNATIONAL MEDIA CAMPAIGNS**********

5/3/2013: GUNNS ARE LIQUIDATED
Creditors voted to liquidate Gunns this morning. Gunns are no more. In theory the pulp mill site and permits can still be sold but there are various obstacles to overcome not least of which is that there are far more profitable places to build a pulpmill.

8/3/2013: COMMENT
The liquidators say that some companies might be interested in the (probably expired) pulpmill permits if the wood supply situation can be clarified. The problem here is all the different companies, schemes and entities Gunns have dreamed up over the years to persuade investors to grow pulpwood. Most of it is not FSC and a lot of it isn't being maintained and will be useless. And even if this was sorted out, who is going to pay to run the operation with so little money to be made? Those in the know say that there isn't enough supply in Tasmania to keep a giant pulpmill going for anything like the expected life of the project.

There are a host of reasons that opponents of the project give for the project not going ahead. This site looks at many of them. For new visitors to this site here are a few:
* TASMANIANS DO NOT WANT IT.
Poll after poll has shown this project is just not wanted either in Tasmania or the mainland. When first proposed, former Gunns CEO John Gay said we had to want it. In spite of a multi-million dollar publicity campaign, the last poll said that 73% of Tasmanians did not want the State Government to help Gunns any more. A recent MLC election resulted in the pro-mill incumbent being re-elected but with a much reduced primary vote. It is virtually unknown for an incumbent MLC to lose in Tasmania and electoral rules prevent any others campaigning other than the candidates. The winner said the pulp mill was not an issue. Nevertheless, mill supporters, rather pathetically, said this proved that the majority supported the mill. It is a case of clutching at straws as all opinion polls have demonstrated support falling with time. It is almost certain that the proponents have been polling but the results have never been released - not difficult to work out why!
* PULP MILLS SMELL.
Some in Canada can be detected 100kms away yet Gunns are proposing to build in a valley with an inversion layer that keeps the air from circulating. At the head of the valley is the city of Launceston.
* PULP MILL AND THE VARIOUS TYPES OF TRANSPORT INVOLVED ARE NOISY.
yet this mill will be built just over the river from the residental areas of Rowella and Kayena. The proponents claim that the mill will is to be built in an industrial area. In fact it is 6kms up the river from the Bell Bay industrial complex. Photographs from the air prove the point.
This photo shows the site of the proposed mill. Industrial area?


This one shows how close it is to the residential and agricultural area Rowella:


Here is the Bell Bay industrial complex in the distance:


* THERE IS NOT ENOUGH PLANTATION WOOD IN TASMANIA TO SUPPORT A MILL THIS SIZE
Gunns have now said that the mill will be plantation-fed only but sceptics doubt they will have enough wood available at a reasonable economic cost.
* THE MILL WILL USE HUGE AMOUNTS OF PRECIOUS FRESH WATER.
* THE MILL WILL DUMP HUGE AMOUNTS OF EFFLUENT
into a shallow sea that has limited flushing action and contains important fisheries. The Herzfeld report from the CSIRO (which Gunns tried to suppress) says that Tasmanian permits would be breached on a daily basis along the coastline. Gunns claim the results are not valid as the basis for the study was the Baltic Sea (which is a shallow sea with very little flushing - just like Bass Strait in fact).
* The combination of logging trucks, visual degradation and smell will deter tourists and affect businesses like wineries, restaurants and other tourist ventures.

At the start of the approval process, Gunns Ltd, the State Government, all the Liberal and Labor State MPs and the Federal Minister of the Environment all agreed that an independent RPDC would decide if the proposal to build a pulpmill at Longreach was acceptable. In January 2007 two members of the RPDC panel resigned blaming State Government interference. One of those resignations was pulpmill expert and scientist Dr. Warwick Raverty. Dr. Raverty has since had this to say about the proposal: The mandatory emission limit guidelines have been set on the basis that any pulpmill is located well away from a population centre. Longreach is an atrocious location for a pulpmill because of the already polluted airshed (8 people a year die prematurely because of it) and the presence of the city of Launceston close by. Bad smells and noxious gases are also likely to be a problem. Dr. Raverty says that the RPDC wrote to Gunns Ltd on numerous occasions asking them to move it to Hampshire but Gunns have refused as it would be slightly more expensive. Dr. Raverty also said that only a pulpmill that was at least as clean as Stendal in Germany would be acceptable to the RPDC. Stendal was completed in 2004 and cost $1.7bn and it is much smaller than Longreach, is built on a flat site with easy access to water supply unlike Longreach which will need to built into the side of a hill and the water piped 40kms. Mercer, the firm that built Stendal, received a huge government subsidy. Gunns Ltd are very unlikely to be able to afford to build a Stendal without a subsidy. And so it has proved. Gunns pulled out of the RPDC process in March 2007 after hearing that the RPDC said their proposal had serious flaws (a fact kept secret from the public and Parliament) and a fast-track assessment put in place by the State Government. The new assessment process was been watered down so much as to be virtually meaningless. The consultant was allowed 5 weeks to assess this huge project. It does not have to abide by the guidelines anymore. All public input past, present and future has been removed. All legal avenues to take action have been blocked in Tasmania. The State Government rort of this whole process is so breathtakingly blatant that you wonder how they can possibly get away with it. The RPDC were going to write to Gunns to tell them their latest information was defective and the State Government stopped them so interfering in a lawful process. Gunns, having been told that their latest information was going to be rejected, withdrew from the process and was rewarded with a lesser assessment. What's more the Premier kept the fact secret and Parliament discussed and voted on it without full disclosure of information! Then, even after this information had been revealed, Liberal and Labor MPs voted the bill through so breaking their election promises.

The SWECO assessment has turned out to be invalid as it clearly states on page 16 that it makes the assumption that 'the limits are appropriate for protecting the receiving environment and were not required to be reviewed'. But the limits were reviewed by the RPDC as the original 2004 guidelines were written on the assumption that the mill would be built in a remote location not in a valley where 100,000 people live. But on the same page it states that the guidelines used were the 2004 guidelines not the updated RPDC project scope guidelines - so the whole assessment is INVALID. Nevertheless, the State Government are treating it as if it is the holy grail!

The ITS Global report has used data that is 6 years old from the 2001 census to justify the mill construction. The latest 2006 census shows a very different position with low unemployment, population growing and a looming shortage of labour. The ITS Global report is therefore INVALID as well.

And now, it has been revealed by leaked emails, Gunns fiddled the assessment of the two sites, Longreach and Hampshire, to make sure that Longreach was chosen.


LATEST NEWS AND UPDATES.

YOUTUBE VIDEOS

CLICK HERE TO READ ABOUT THE PROTESTS

CLICK TO READ AN ACCOUNT OF DR.RAVERTY'S LECTURE AT LAUNCESTON

TASMANIA'S STUNNING TAMAR VALLEY - click here for picture tour

CLICK HERE TO SEE WHAT EXISTING PULP MILLS LOOK LIKE

The aim of this site is to provide a one stop guide to all the issues. Is it really World's best practice? Will it smell badly and, if so, how far will it spread? What effect will it have on the air quality in the valley? How will it affect log truck movements? What about the effects of the effluent on Bass Strait and the Tamar river? Find out about the water supply to the mill. Will it produce more fogs and smogs? Will the noise from the mill during construction and operation affect residents and will the visual aspect of the mill put off tourists? What about possible health effects of the mill? Is the logging sustainable and will it result in loss of wildlife? Is there a danger from accidents at the mill? Is the decision to build it at Longreach justified and finally, is it a good financial deal for Gunns Ltd and the Tasmanian people? Or you can go straight to the final verdict for a brief summary of all the points discussed.

Moriarty Reach on the Tamar - the mill will be built just round the corner.

This site incorporates the RPDC FINAL PROJECT SCOPE, NTD study tour, Integrated Impact Statement (IIS), peer reviews commissioned by the RPDC and various submissions to the RPDC.

The Tamar Estuary as viewed from Kayena - this is Devil's Elbow.

We shall be looking at and commenting on the issues and what Gunns Ltd and CEO John Gay have said (or haven't said) in their promotional material on the mill, in the media and their proposals to the RPDC and the Federal Government. Also what the RPDC say in their guidelines and what the pulp mill taskforce says. Relevant links and newspaper articles are included and updated as they appear. All the information on this site is accurate as far as the author has been able to ascertain but the comments represent the views of the author only. You can check out the Gunns Ltd and anti-pulpmill Tasmanian Times websites at the links below:

Gunns official pulp mill website

Tasmanian Times Internet Newspaper

TAP (Tasmanians Against the Pulpmill) have a website:

'Tasmanians against the pulpmill' website

If you interested in following developments in this debate then the Hobart Mercury gives excellent coverage and you can check the Tasmanian news every day on the following link:

Hobart Mercury state news

Gunns Ltd Integrated Impact Statement (IIS) was released on 14/7/2006 (about a year after it was originally promised). It is 7500 pages long! The mill will take 26 months to construct. Information in the IIS, comments on it and further news/developments appears on this site in this bold brown format to make it easy to locate. The RPDC have commissioned several independent peer reviews of the IIS and these have highlighted that there are some very serious issues that need to be more fully explained by Gunns.



TEMPORARY WORKER ACCOMMODATION (This issue is not covered in other sections)

IIS: raises the issue of accommodation. Gunns will build a temporary village in George Town for 800 workers. The other 2100 will need to use rental or hotel/holiday rooms. Rental properties are 95/97% full at present. The obvious implication is that tourist accommodation will disappear for periods during construction so that businesses that depend on tourists will suffer. Also, rents may rise during the construction phase and existing tenants may be forced to leave the area. The other obvious problem will be the influx of huge numbers of male workers into George Town. Will this cause friction and will there also be a large influx of 'ladies of the night'?!

IIS: says that temporary accommodation in George Town will be constructed over a period of 6 months. In order to mitigate the noise nuisance of building the following times will apply: Mon-Fri 7am to 6pm Saturday 8am to 6pm Sundays and public holidays 10am to 6pm. Residents of Rowella, Kayena and Sidmouth will be asking why they are not being granted the same consideration. The reason is that noise laws cover the work in George Town but they do not apply to a heavy industrial site.

Letters to this website - please write with your views

The author would like to thank the many people who have written to this site expressing support and also those that either pointed out errors or sent in material to place on the site or help in its maintainance. This topic is obviously something that a lot of people feel strongly about.

This map shows where the mill is to be built - note the close proximity of local residents.

THE ISSUES

According to opponents of the mill, the following issues need to be addressed. They say..................

* We were promised World's best practice but what is proposed falls well short

* It will create a rotten egg stink right up the Tamar valley affecting tourism

* It will add to air pollution in the valley already at times the worst in Australia

* It will double the number of log trucks in the north

* It will pollute the shallow waters of Bass Strait and probably the Tamar River as well affecting recreational fishing

* It will take an unsustainable amount of water out of an area that can ill afford to lose it

* It will increase fogs and smogs in the Tamar valley

* There will be increased noise pollution especially during construction

* It will be an eyesore that will ruin the valley and put tourists off visiting

* It will result in increased illness and deaths in the area

* Working at the pulp mill will entail health risks

* The intensive tree farming needed to feed the mill will result in loss of wildlife and spoil Tasmania's natural beauty.

* In the event of an industrial accident local residents and/or the Tamar River would suffer

* The mill should be built at Hampshire where most of these problems will not occur

* The mill will be risky financial venture and may turn out to be an expensive white elephant

GUNNS LTD SAY THAT THESE EMOTIVE CLAIMS ARE INCORRECT


Pulp mills are very necessary. Without them we would have no paper. It makes economic sense to have a pulp mill in Tasmania because we export a lot of wood chips. If we can process these into wood pulp we can sell it at a much higher price and reduce the amount that Australia imports from abroad. A pulp mill will provide 292 permanent skilled jobs (77 salaried, 215 paid by the hour) and other economic benefits for Tasmania. However, the Northern Tasmanian Development Group study tour in March 2006 found there were no new businesses that could claim to have sprung up as a result of the new pulp mill in Stendal, Germany and a calculation by Jose Koopmans at Veracel, Brazil, questioned whether there was any net gain of jobs at all.

There are various types of pulp mill but 75% of the World's mills are elemental chlorine-free Kraft mills using Chlorine dioxide. The technology is improving all the time. All mills built now are ECF or totally chlorine free (TCF). Some are closed loop which means that there is no liquid effluent, just some treated water which can be used for irrigation - these closed loop millsalso require much less water to run but create more solid waste.

You can have a look at the issues as listed in the questions above or just click below:


World's best practice?<> Smell<> Air quality<> Log trucks and other HGVs<> Effluent<> Water<> Fogs and smogs<> Noise <> Visual aspect <> Health<> Logging<> Accidents<> Choice of site<> Financial<> Final verdict

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TASMANIA'S STUNNING TAMAR VALLEY - click here for pictures and information


Email the author

Interesting factual letters will be displayed on the site. Please indicate if you do not wish your letter to appear.

LETTERS SENT TO THIS SITE:


Date: Tue, 15 Nov 2005 20:51:58 -0300 Hello, I saw your page and I thought we have a similar problem. I am from Valdivia, central-south part of Chile, a pulp mill, similar to the one proposed for the Tamar River is working closer to the city and disposing their effluents into the Cruces River, which crosses the city. The pulp-mill is placed close to a small town, and about 50km from a city (150.000 inhabitants). They use chlorine dioxide for bleaching 550.000 tons/year and started working on feb. 2004. After a few days bad smell was coming out from the mill, also in Valdivia (50km away) was terrible. About 20 km downriver there was the biggest nesting site of the black-necked swan in South America. Two or 3 months after the start of the pulp-mill, the swan population started to decline very fast, many migrated, but many died. It was very impressive to see swans falling down on the city. Now there is no swan in this place, the water is dark, and they are supposed to be one of the few mills with tertiary treatment, all the aquatic plants which fed the swan dissapeared also. Now, tourism has declined also very fast, Valdivia was a tourism city, but now many people are loosing their jobs. Maybe the experiment we are exposed here can give you and your city some extra information about what happened with modern pulp mills. We are still fighting this battle, and it will still take a lot of time. This is without doubt the greatest ecological dissaster we had in Chile for many years. Best regards from Chile, Pablo Santamarina

Information on Chlorine Dioxide Cl2O2

Chlorine dioxide is a highly poisonous, unstable, heavier than air gas that is yellow in
appearence. It is too unstable to transport so is manufactured on site. A concentration of more than 9% can result in an explosion.

It is used as the main bleaching agent in the pulp mill. Exposure may well be fatal. If
an accident resulted in an escape the gas would flow down onto the Tamar and on
contact with water turn into hydrochloric acid. A major fish kill would result.

Chlorine dioxide is too unstable to hang around for long in the environment but
unfortunately some of the compounds produced when it reacts do - they are called
dioxins. During the bleaching process, chlorates are produced which can harm marine plants.

If dioxins accumulate in the food chain in even small concentrations then cancers and
birth defects may result.

Any dioxins produced by this mill will be discharged into Bass Strait about 8kms
from the mouth of the Tamar.

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