EPA steps up dust monitoring in Port Augusta

MONITOR: EPA's Andrew Solomon at the temporary air quality monitoring system at Stirling North Primary School which will complement a network of EPA monitored air monitors around Port Augusta. PHOTO: Matt Carcich.

MONITOR: EPA's Andrew Solomon at the temporary air quality monitoring system at Stirling North Primary School which will complement a network of EPA monitored air monitors around Port Augusta. PHOTO: Matt Carcich.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is installing a temporary air quality monitoring station in Stirling North as part of an investigation into dust sources in the area.

The school was chosen as the most suitable site as the school grounds are watered and there is less likelihood of any local dust issues influencing the results.

A network of air quality monitoring stations is located around Port Augusta to monitor for dust from the former power station ash dam.

High levels of dust from the ash dam were recorded across the monitoring network during a major dust event on January 1.

State Environment Minister Ian Hunter visited on January 4, and received an angry reception.

However, data from the Stirling North monitoring station over the past two months has shown dust at high levels on several days, but that the ash dam was not the source.

These high levels were not detected at other monitoring stations.

On Monday February 27 EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli fronted the Port Augusta City Council, and faced tough questioning from the Council.

EPA Acting Director Operations Steve Barry said the EPA installed this monitoring station because it wants to understand why these levels are being detected in Stirling North.

“It is possible that the dust being detected is ‘local’ dust, coming from dirt roads, verges, footpaths or car parks,” he said.

“But we need additional monitoring to confirm whether that is the case, or whether the dust is coming from another source.”

A second monitoring station will be located at the Stirling North Primary School. On Monday, March 6, Flinders Power started spreading topsoil at the Port Augusta power station’s 270 hectare ash dam, with native vegetation to be established in the winter months.

Topsoil will be applied to the 270 hectare site immediately, after Flinders Power received approval from the relevant regulating bodies to rehabilitate the site.

The data will be available on the EPA’s website, and anyone with questions about the monitoring can contact the EPA on 8204 2004 or 1800 623 445.