Flinders Power Fined A Pittance Over Port Augusta Dust Event

Port Augusta Power Stations rehabilitation

Image: EPA South Australia

South Australia’s Environment Protection Authority has reportedly fined Flinders Power just $2,200 for a dust and coal fly-ash event that impacted Port Augusta residents last year.

Several dust events have occurred at the Port Augusta Power Stations site since its closure in 2016 while rehabilitation work has been carried out, including a significant incident on 1 January 2017 involving fly-ash, the by-product of burning coal. Another event was reported in December; which was said to be just topsoil dust.

In an environmental protection order published by the EPA in January 2017, the Authority said the event that month “had the potential to cause human health effects and discomfort”.

The financial penalty eventually levied for that event did not impress Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson.

In comments made to ABC Radio yesterday, Mayor Johnson said when he heard about the penalty, he thought someone was pulling his leg.

The EPA has defended its decision.

“The penalty applied to Flinders Power for the dust event does not relate to the extent of the dust, but rather to the company’s ability to have prevented it,” said part of a statement from EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli. ” The fact that the company had applied dust suppressant, which was washed away in severe weather conditions in December 2016, impacted on the amount of the penalty.”

Mr. Circelli said the amount of the penalty is calculated using a set process, which is available on the EPA website.

Cleanup of the Port Augusta Power Stations site is continuing. The most recent update from Flinders Power mentioned the 200m high Northern stack is scheduled for demolition this month. The last major demolition works was the Centre Bunker in April.

Aurora Solar Energy Project Update

On a literally brighter note, the Port Augusta region is hosting SolarReserve’s $650 million Aurora solar thermal power station. Expected to generate 500 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually, the facility will feature a 1,100MWh molten salt energy storage system enabling dispatchable power at full load for 8 hours after dark.

In the last update from SolarReserve in May, the company said financing for the Aurora Solar Energy Project was progressing well (60% complete at the time), along with selection of a general Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contractor (75% complete).

” Once these activities are completed, construction will commence later in 2018,” stated SolarReserve.

There was no community update in June; however, the newsletters appear to be published every two months – meaning another update should be posted soon.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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