Concerns over Port Augusta ash cloud

ASH: An image of the ash-cloud on August 17. PHOTO: Lauren Rose.
ASH: An image of the ash-cloud on August 17. PHOTO: Lauren Rose.

The site of flying ash clouds may hurt Port Augusta in several areas, according to Port Augusta Council CEO John Banks.

On August 17 a streak of high-forced winds caused ash at the former Alinta Power Station to move into the air.

This has occurred a few times in recent months and Mr Banks says it’s time for decisions to be made as soon as possible.

“Our greater concern is the health and welfare of the community and we think action needs to be taken to stop the dust,” Mr Banks said.

“...We conveyed that information to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)...that these events were far too regular.”

“They appear to be much more severe then they had been when Alinta was operating the site...something needs to be done”.

The land was formerly owned by Alinta Energy and is now managed by Flinders Power which has an indenture agreement with the state government..

Mr Banks says other parts of this problem are frustrating.

“There are engineering solutions and they cost money, and the reality is a lot of this comes down to dollars,” he said.

“...This is a reputational risk to Port Augusta as well, we are seeking to promote the lifestyle attributes, the good environmental attributes of the city and having fly ash or ash emissions associated with the Alinta site is a reputational risk for the city.” 

A spokesperson for Flinders Power says unseasonable weather events have broken the salt crust of the ash storage area.

This salt crust is used to seal the loose ash from becoming airborne.

“As gale-force winds occurred quickly after the heavy rain, it was not possible to re-establish all of the salt crust in time to prevent some ash becoming airborne,” the spokesperson said.

“Flinders Power is employing all available techniques and expending considerable funds to manage the issue as effectively as possible.”

The spokesperson says Flinders Power has also employed additional contractors, and is ‘very conscious of the impact on the Port Augusta community’.

“Flinders Power is doing everything it reasonably can to address the issue as quickly as possible and at all times has complied with its environmental obligations.”

An EPA spokesperson says the EPA is maintaining a close oversight of the area and that ‘Flinders Power is responsible for managing dust from the ash dam’.