Category Archives: Uncategorized

Eco group: LNG decision straight out of ‘Yes Minister’


11th Jul 2018 4:30 AM

AN AMENDMENT to QCLNG's environmental authority which clarifies smoke emitted at night does not meet the definition of "visible smoke" has been likened to BBC comedy Yes Minister by a local environmental group.

The environmental authority was amended on June 29 after an application by QGC for more flexibility to give off smoke during maintenance works such as shut-downs.

The company is restricted to emitting a total of seven hours of visible smoke per year.

Smoke density is determined using the Ringelmann Smoke Chart, which grades smoke based on its darkness.

In the latest amendment to the environmental authority, the Department of Environment and Science acknowledges smoke released at night will not result in a Ringelmann reading of greater than two, so smoke released at night cannot be considered "visible".

Smoky flaring at night has therefore always been allowed.

The company's request for an increase in the cap from seven hours per year to 29 hours was denied, but the cap on individual flaring events was raised to 90 minutes in safety-related circumstances.

The Gladstone Conservation Council, which opposed the change, was informed of the decision earlier this month.

"When I found out I was angry at first, then I couldn't stop laughing," co-founder Cheryl Watson said.

Ms Watson said the decision was part of a broader struggle when it came to environmental agreements.

"People were happy to have that industry there under certain conditions, but the fact is those facts no longer apply - they change them," she said.

"Instead of making the companies abide by the environmental authority, the government has bent over and found little ways to work around the restrictions with them."

A QGC spokesperson said the company's flaring conditions remained the strictest of any of the LNG plants.

"QGC acknowledges that the Department must strike a balance, and appreciates that our need for some operational flexibility especially during major maintenance works has been acknowledged," the spokesperson said.

"We work hard at minimising flaring and the Government's air quality monitoring confirms no exceeding of the air quality objectives as a result of our recent shut-down activities."

A response from the Department of Environment and Science had not been received as of yesterday evening.

Pandanus Die-back – Gladstone on the front line

My friends,
recently I was privileged to attend a Pandanus information session on Monday the 5th of February at Agnes Water hosted by The Gladstone Regional Council.

Pandanus plants are an iconic species for the Queensland coast, with the seeds being an important food source for indigenous people, and they remain an important part of the dune ecosystem. The roots reduce erosion damage, the seeds provide food for many animals, and the crowns store rainwater for wildlife. The trees are also a salt buffer for other plants against the on shore winds.

Joel Fostin from Ecosystem Management and Biosecurity Solutions spoke to us about the current threats facing this iconic species with particular regard to the introduced Jamella australiae or leafhopper.

Leafhoppers have been transplanted from northern Australia via specimen trees, so while they are a native species to Australia, they are not native to this area and are causing extensive damage.

Up the eastern coast of Queensland up to 50% of mature trees have been lost which is a shocking thing and something I was not aware of. The female trees which have survived are stressed and not producing seed reliably. This issue isn't being managed in a co-ordinated way at all.

Gladstone is on the front line for this issue as there are no leafhoppers north of 1770 Creek at this stage, but we need to be aware of the possible spread north of this damaging pest.

The leafhoppers life cycle is egg to adult in 8 weeks and they can lay 5-8000 eggs on a single leaf. the good news is that wasp control trials are showing promise. The wasp is tiny, and attacks the leafhopper eggs, rather than the wasp itself, and this means that the wasps can be moved from tree to tree with the right technique.

How can you help?
Pandanus seeds can be planted just past the first dune, to a depth of halfway up the seed, or they can be propogated and replanted. they sprout fairly easily and have high genetic diversity so increasing the population is one strategy, but a long term one.

Keep a close eye on your local trees and if you see crowns starting to die off, please contact Council as soon as possible as there are a range of measures which can be put in place to save the trees.

More information:

Pandanus die back at Workman's Beach, Agnes Water

A healthy pandanus plant at Workman's Beach, Agnes Water

Pandanus seeds ready to be planted along the foreshore

A young pandanus plant ready to be planted out.

A pandanus seed contains multiple sprouts which can be separated and planted in a nursery setting.

Trump’s censorship of science

Original text from ThinkProgress

Link to Silencing Science Tracker

Climate coalition tallied all of Trump’s censorship of science. It’s staggering.
Trump's war on science threatens the nation's safety, experts warn.
Joe Romm
Jan 22, 2018, 12:22 pm

President Donald Trump and his administration have censored or stifled science — particularly climate science — almost 100 times since the election.
This adds up to a reckless and unprecedented war on science, according to the Silencing Science Tracker, which tallies up all of the budget cuts to science, the record low number of science positions filled by Trump, the deletion of science data from websites, the censorship of the words “climate change” from federal reports, and so on.

The tracker is a new initiative from the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund and Columbia Law School’s Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.

The center’s faculty adviser, Michael Gerrard, called Trump’s blinkered decision to ignore science “dangerous and intolerable,” like “a truck driver who wears a blindfold and drives based on what is whispered into his ear.” That’s especially reckless when the truck driver is speeding toward a cliff called catastrophic climate change.

This is what America will look like if we follow Trump’s climate policies
Leaked draft reveals a devastated America, up to 8 feet of sea level rise, 18°F Arctic warming–unless we embrace Paris climate deal

The tracker has been monitoring efforts to “restrict or prohibit scientific research, education or discussion, or the publication or use of scientific information” since Trump was elected.

Since the tracker is entirely based on what has been reported by the media, this suggests the actual degree to which the administration is directly undermining science may be much higher.

CREDIT: Screenshot of Climate Science Tracker
To date, the tracker has 96 entries, including 41 examples of outright government censorship. For instance, “on December 20, 2017, ninety-two documents describing national parks’ climate action plans were removed from the National Park Service (NPS) website.”
And climate change is already an area where the public is not receiving enough factual information and instead is forced to wade through an open fire hydrant of misinformation from the fossil fuel-funded effort to promote climate science denial.
The tracker has also tallied dozens of instances of the administration stifling or silencing scientific work — for instance, by failing to appoint people for key positions of scientific oversight and by putting out a new National Security Strategy that removes “climate change” from its list of threats to our national security.

Trump administration has quietly changed government’s sharing of climate data in unprecedented ways
Just one year in, the changes are pronounced.
“America has excelled as a nation in large part because its unwavering governmental support for science and technology,” Michael Mann, a leading climate scientist, told ThinkProgress. “By censoring and stifling scientific research—in the area of climate change in particular—Trump threatens both our economic competitiveness as a nation—and our safety.”

#Climate, #Donald Trump, #Science

Letter to the Editor – C. Watson

Letter to the Editor
Gladstone Observer

With due respect to Noël Bowley, I wish to reply to his letter to the Editor on Monday 25th August.

Noel I think the important part of your letter inferred that you had worked for the Ports Corporation for 37 years and retired a decade ago. Unfortunately the Company you worked for and the one that existed during this fiasco are entirely different and while dredging has been carried out in Gladstone Harbour numerous times the difference this time is twofold, 1. The amount of dredge spoil and 2. The fact that this time they backhoe dredged mud which contained high levels of acid sulphate material.

The GBRMPAs own studies have recently discovered that the dredge spoil can actually travel up to 80 kilometres. One thing Ebony did not point out is that 2 members of the GBRMPA Board have financial interests in the Resources Industry. I find it very hard to believe they were not unduly influenced. In your position at the Gladstone Ports you had the relevant qualifications, don't you think that anyone sitting on the GBRMPA Board should have the correct qualifications?

Do you believe that all the people who spoke about the problems are all lying? Did the whistleblower of the problems with the bund wall lie and was his photographic evidence false?

I for one congratulation Ebony for having the courage to voice her opinion in our local paper. I know how difficult that can be.

I love Gladstone and Gladstone Harbour as much as you and unfortunately I believe you do not hide from the truth, no matter how difficult because if we do not acknowledge the past mistakes we will continue to make them. Yes we are an industrial city but wouldn't it have been nice if this latest rush had been done with the environment being the number one consideration. We could have been proudly showing off a model for what to do, not what not to do.

Cheryl Watson
South End

Reef dumping permit followed shortly after letter from Hunt

Reef dumping permit followed shortly after letter from Hunt


Daniel Burdon | 12th Jul 2014 12:01 AM

ENVIRONMENT Minister Greg Hunt told the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to approve a controversial dredge spoil dumping proposal at Abbot Point just days before a permit was granted.

Documents released in answers to a Senate Estimates Question on Notice reveal Mr Hunt personally wrote to the authority just seven days before the authority approved the sea dumping permit.

Both Mr Hunt's previous approval and the authority's approval are already subject to court action, and both parties were remaining tight-lipped about the letter on Friday.

The North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation project would involve dredging three million cubic metres of sediment to expand the coal port, with the spoil created to be dumped in an existing dumping area in the marine park.

Earlier draft permit assessments have previously shown the authority was concerned about potentially wide-ranging impacts from the dumping proposal, including on coral near Holbourne Island and Nares Rock and the heritage-listed WWII Catalina wreck.

But the authority's final approval documents have revealed publicly for the first time that Mr Hunt's letter was one of only two key "grounds" relied on for approving the sea dumping permit.

While the letter itself was not released to the Senate, the documents show Mr Hunt wrote to the authority on January 23 this year, days before the permit was approved on January 31.

"I wish to advise you under section 163(1)(a) of the EPBC Act, that (the port) has addressed all of the requirements for the loading and disposal of sediments at sea and therefore recommend that a permit should be granted under section 19 of the Sea Dumping Act," the document reads.

It is unclear why the letter was sent, as the documents show authority staff were already aware of the looming deadline for a decision, reporting "considerable time constraints have been experience in providing a comprehensive sea dumping assessment".

The documents show the only other grounds to approve the permit were that alternatives, such as a different dump site or land reclamation, "could be seen to be disproportionate in costs".

It also reveals many and varied grounds on which the permit could be refused, but wasn't, including a "lack of adequate information to determine the likely effects of the proposed disposal option".

Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters, who asked the Question on Notice, said the documents showed that "that science was dictating a refusal, but it was approved after the Minister wrote the letter".

"My interpretation is that the Minister wrote what was an otherwise unnecessary letter - clearly this was a signal that the government expected the authority to approve it," she said.

"With the budget at that point in time hanging over everybody's head, and the Minster writing the letter, it is clear what the subtext was if it was not approved."

An authority spokeswoman said GBRMPA was unable to comment, due to existing court actions over the approval.

A port spokeswoman said it was "important to understand that dredging has not yet occurred" and there were a number of conditions to be met to "ensure that impacts are avoided and mitigated".

"Further, while modelling can provide guidance, it does not replace the knowledge and expertise of undertaking actual dredging campaigns," she said.

Questions put to Mr Hunt's office regarding the matter were unanswered at deadline on Friday.

Lying, thieving, greedy bastards

The following is a submission I made regarding the further expansion of the State Development Area in Gladstone in 2014.

Dear Sirs,
You may feel that since not many people turned up to the information sessions about the State Development Area changes, that no-one cares what you do.

This is not true. Many people have objected strenuously to this process over the years, and it has done them not one bit of good. Is it any wonder that most people have simply opted out of the process?

I am one of them, but I’ve decided to voice my thoughts on the whole process in a way which I hope you can understand. I’m going to put it very plainly. And when I say ‘You’ I am conflating government and fossil fuel corporations because I believe they are so intertwined that they cannot be separated.

You are lying, thieving bastards. You are greedy. You think that you can simply excise part of Australia and exempt it from due process, which is exactly what a State Development Area is. You think you can ride roughshod over a community, ruin an environment with impunity and take the money and run.

I am here to tell you that while the people of Central Queensland are slow to anger, when they are roused, they are a force to be reckoned with. Oh, we won’t be marching in the streets, have no fear of that, but you will find that your social licence has expired.

People, good people, have been leaving the area in droves. You will struggle to find the people you need, you will have to pay them double to stay there, and those people who will go anywhere for money are exactly the people who will leave at the drop of a hat.

And the good people who have left, who were forced to leave, are quietly agitating behind the scenes. You will find your finance is harder to get, your approvals much, much slower, and every act of environmental vandalism will be photographed and flashed around the world.

So go ahead, draw more lines on a map. Give with one hand as you take away with the other.

You will find that it will and has already backfired on you.

Kind Regards,
Anna Hitchcock

How to request a Statement of Reasons under the EPBC Act

This information is for all those people concerned and affected by certain decisions made by the Australian Minister for the Environment or his Department.

The design of the EPBC Act is to provide an environmental impact assessment process which allows for public consultation which is transparent to all stakeholders and interested persons. This means that at certain steps of the process where a decision has been made, persons can... request information from the Department of the Environment regarding that particular decision. This information is obtained by formally requesting a Statement of Reasons under Section 13 of the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 from the following e-mail address:

Any request should include a statement as to why the person is aggrieved in accordance with Section 487 of the EPBC Act. The EPBC Act has a broad definition of aggrieved persons and as such pretty much any person would be able to request a decision under the Act. Once the Department has received this request within 28 days of a decision, a Statement of Reasons is required to be prepared and given to the person within 28 days. The Department has produced a Policy Statement which outlines the decisions where a Statement of Reasons can be requested from the Department/Minister. This Policy Statement is at: or click here

Requesting Statements of Reasons is a simple process that is rarely used but would be an important mechanism for obtaining information by the general public or conservation groups. I would encourage all those that are concerned by any decision made by the current Minister and the Department to request formal statements outlining the reasons for particular decisions under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act.

Sea level rise no longer considered in Planning Scheme

This was originally published on Gladstone Conservation Council's Facebook page. The opinions are the author's own.

"...we'd all better start praying, because the inevitable outcome of this poor policy is property damage and deaths. " Read more below

From the linked article (address above) which you can read here: "A leaked Property and Infrastructure Cabinet Committee paper says: "Any local government that elects to include some allowance for sea level rise in their planning schemes will need to justify that the state interests relating to economic development are not materially affected by this.""

Soooo we're going to allow local councils to make their own decision on this, but we can't tell you if councils will be insured if they allow development that gets hit by storm surge, and don't interfere with state projects with piddling objections that they might periodically get flooded with salt water.

Having personally been in a small cabin on the beach front in Bargara as ex-TC Oswald was passing overhead, I can tell you that storm surge is a real issue. Every high tide, the waves got closer, until they were almost underneath the cabin. As sea levels rise, this will only get worse during every extreme event.

I am all for allowing for local knowledge in planning decisions, but only the State Government has the resources to commission the studies to work out where storm surge will cause the most problems. And the money for the major works required to protect existing infrastructure. Local councils will have to do this by guess and by God and with few resources. And speaking of the big fella (no disrespect intended) we'd all better start praying, because the inevitable outcome of this poor policy is property damage and deaths.

By not including something as basic as sea level change in their policy, the State Government is putting money before people. That is unacceptable.

In the end, nature will win out. I just hope I'm not in a tourist cabin on the beachfront when it does.