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Gunns Tasmania mill’s fate hangs in balance: Fed Cabinet refuses to make a decision after Government chief scientist gives thumbs down to mill in current form; Gunns told to agree to more stringent effluent controls

Posted by gmarkets on 2 October, 2007

According to Sue Neales, chief reporter of The Mercury, (27/09/2007, p.5), Federal Cabinet refused to make a decision on the future of the world’s largest pulp mill, the $1.9 billion Tasmanian mill, after being told last week that government chief scientist Jim Peacock had recommended, after a four-week inquiry, that the Federal Government not approve the mill in its current form unless proponent Gunns agreed to incorporate more stringent effluent controls.

Effluent discharge questioned: Peacock was also believed to want Gunns to provide further information relating to the 73 million litres or 64,000 tonnes of effluent that would be pumped daily into Bass Strait and its potential dispersion and ocean movements.

Hazardous nature: The effluent contained toxic chemicals, dioxins and Damns, which the federal Environment Department had concluded would have a “significant impact” on the marine life and marine sediments of Bass Strait and on the Tasmanian north-east coastline.

Marine ecosystems threatened: The department concluded the most severe detrimental impacts of the mill outfall would be on coastal marine waters and beaches outside the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth, for which the State Government was responsible.

Nation wide campaign against mill: The independent report from Peacock checking the department’s approval recommendation was commissioned by Turnbull after a massive national campaign against the pulp mill. Peacock’s findings, which included even tougher effluent controls than those suggested by the Environment Department, went to Cabinet last Tuesday. Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull flew to the US yesterday as it was reported Peacock had briefed Cabinet on the findings.

The Mercury, 27/9/2007, p. 5

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