Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs declared that he is pleased with the progress in the rehabilitation of the former Augusta Power Stations site.
The new Environment Minister visited Port Augusta on Friday, August 10 to get a better understanding of the management of the site, which has been criticised by the Port Augusta City Council and the community.
His visit comes in the wake of a controversial $2200 fine issued by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to Flinders Power.
Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson had described the penalty as the equivalent of “speeding down the highway”.
“We know there has been some controversy in recent months around the management of the site,” Mr Speirs said.
“It is an immense site. It is very significant in size. A huge amount of work has been done and there’s still more work to go.
“I’m fairly pleased with the way things are headed. Rehabilitation is well progressed and revegetation is underway.”
The fine came as a result of ongoing fly ash pollution issues from the power station’s ash dam.
EPA defended the fine, stating the extent of the penalty came as a result of Flinders Power’s inability to prevent the spread of dust due to an extreme weather event.
Mr Speirs said he was disappointed that the fine had caused a “distraction from the good work going on” at the site.
“I don’t think the fine helped give confidence to the local community that the EPA was managing this process in a way that the community wanted,” he said.
“The fine was only one part of a whole host of measures that were implemented to deal with dust mitigation and the rehabilitation of the site.”
Mr Speirs also revealed the $3 million Bird Lake remediation project could be progressed by the summer.
While the project is being managed by Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan, Mr Speirs said it makes sense for the works to run in conjunction with the rehabilitation of the power station site.
“We’re hopeful that rehabilitation can occur in the coming months,” he said.
“I’ll be working alongside Minister van Holst Pellekaan and the Port Augusta Council, and I’ll have a conversation with the Council about the exact way that those works will unfold.”
The Minister then attended the Natural Resources Management (NRM) community session at Central Oval, following similar events in Ceduna and Port Lincoln.
Mr Speirs said the forums were held to listen to local concerns regarding the NRM system, with the Marshall Liberal government set to implement a new program early next year.