Coode Island Committee Update

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Address by Mick Bourke, Chairman EPA Victoria

The CICCC invited Mick Bourke, the new Chairman of the EPA, to its meeting on 13 February 2003 to tell the Committee his vision for the future. In a thoughtful, wide-ranging address, Mick commenced with the view that “The future is about consultation.” He pointed to the range of environmental challenges facing us, and highlighted the existing unsustainable levels of solid and liquid wastes. “We’ll be calling on the community to take more responsibility” Mick told the committee. The EPA have a program with 30 of the larger producers of hazardous waste to change their production processes to minimise waste, with an emphasis on recycling and reuse of the residual waste stream.
Mick focused on the need to achieve significant improvements in the health of Victoria’s rivers, including the need to progressively restore environmental flows. Motor vehicle omissions will continue to be an important priority for EPA both through its work at the nationals level, where it has been instrumental in gaining agreement to introduce tough European emission standards, and through its ongoing in-service enforcement programs. In response to a question from community representative Michael Isaachsen on the impact of road based transport on scarce resources, Mick stated that the amount of land consumed for transport use was a concern to the EPA, and quoted Australia’s ecological footprint of 2.7 times its land area in terms of the resources we consume.
Mick emphasised that although EPA would continue its role as a regulator and enforcer, collaboration was its favoured approach. “Open information is a powerful tool, not to be feared” he told the committee. “The community wants to see continued improvement.”

Major Hazard Facility Licence granted to Terminals
Bronwyn Brookman-Smith told the Committee that WorkSafe had issued a Major Hazard Facility Licence to Terminals for its Coode Island facility on 19 December 2002. The licence has two conditions:
1. Before installing further connections to the new vapour emission control system (VECS), the operator must demonstrate to WorkSafe an appropriate risk assessment for all proposed configurations of the VECS.
2. The operator must not operate the sites known as Plant B East and Plant C East beyond 31 December 2004 without an acceptable plan for maintaining tank integrity.
Community representative Ian Thomas congratulated Terminals on its achievement on behalf of the CICCC.
Environment Improvement Plan
A final draft of Terminals’ Environment Improvement Plan was presented to the Committee, containing the changes suggested by the Committee at the last meeting. Carlo Fasolino, Terminals Victorian General Manager, tabled the draft of an Improvement Action Report that will report progress on achieving the targets in the EIP. The EIP will be finalised at the next CICCC meeting.

Training, bunds and groundwater
Terminals presented reports at the meeting on the following:
Training Assessments for all operators, including internal and external (Gordon Institute) modules. The program is well underway, and is scheduled to be complete by July 2004;
A review of bunds at the facility. Bunds are walls that provide secondary containment, in the event of a tank spill. Terminals will also report on the MFESB requirement for bund capacity to contain 90 minutes fire fighting water flow, in addition to the requirements for the contents of the tanks.
The “Sparge” system has completed its trials, and is working well. Aimed at controlling contaminated groundwater, it involves a line of shallow wells through which air is pumped, and forms a curtain of bubbles on its way to collection and treatment. The air traps and entrains hydrocarbons in the soil, and has made a significant improvement to the quality of groundwater moving towards the river. Consultants ERM will provide a fuller report on the Sparge system at the next meeting.

Channel Deepening Project
Lisa Faldon of the Victorian Channels Authority told the Committee about the EES being prepared for the Channel Deepening proposal. The objective of the proposal is to increase the size of ships able to enter the Port of Melbourne from the current draught of 12.1 metres (at all tides) to approximately 14 metres. Lisa told the Committee that the concerns of the City of Maribyrnong, which are shared by the CICCC, that bigger ships will result in more cargo, and cause greater impacts on local roads, will not be considered in the EES. Instead, Government has decided that other studies of transport in the western suburbs will be the appropriate forum to consider such secondary impacts. “Before a decision is made, the Channel Deepening EES should consider all the impacts of the proposal, positive and negative, and whether it is good for Melbourne” said community representative Michael Isaachsen.

Melbourne 2030
The CICCC finalised its submission to the Government Strategy Melbourne 2030, which supports the strategy, and draws attention to two defects in it. These are the omission of any consideration in the strategy of the land use conflict between hazardous facilities and the adjacent community, and the need for further investigation and planning for Inland Container Depots. A copy of the CICCC submission can be found on the CICCC web site –

Next meeting of the CICCC
Agenda items for the March 2003 meeting of the CICCC include a presentation by consultants ERM on the Sparge system, advice from EPA on a suitable regime for benzene monitoring, and finalisation of the Environment Improvement Plan. Members of the public are welcome to attend the meeting on Thursday 13th March 2003 at the Maribyrnong Town Hall on the corner of Hyde and Napier Streets, Footscray at 6.30 pm.

Robin Saunders, Chair CICCC, 17 December 2002