Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick does not believe Flinders Power can achieve ‘world’s best standard’ once the ash dam remediation at the Augusta Power Stations is complete.
The Senate’s Environment and Communications References Committee held a Public Hearing at Central Oval on Monday, September 3 to discuss the rehabilitation of mining and resources projects.
Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson, Nu-Rock Managing Director Maroun Rahme, Flinders Power CEO Peter Georgaris and Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Chief Executive Tony Circelli all spoke at the hearing.
Flinders Power revealed the revegetation of the ash dam would take about two years to complete, and while Mr Patrick commended the company’s efforts, he said an ash dam remediation plan should have been in place prior to the site’s closure.
“I think Flinders Power have done quite a lot, but I don’t think they’ve done world’s best standard,” Mr Patrick said.
“As set in the US, these standards need to have a low permeability layer, a 45 centimetre infiltration prevention layer, and then a 15cm earthen material to grow vegetation.”
Mr Georgaris told the committee that Flinders Power’s work has been unprecedented, with Australia never experiencing a site remediation project of this size.
However, Mr Patrick did not buy into this argument.
“It’s really important that we get this right for two reasons,” Mr Patrick explained.
“One is for the people of Port Augusta and the environment, and the second is because it becomes a template for Australia.
“I don’t necessarily accept that it is unique in the context that each situation would be different anyway.”
Mayor Johnson commended the Senate for giving the community the chance to formally voice its concerns.
“It’s a very pleasing result to have the Senate here and to see members of the community relay some concern, but also for companies like the EPA and Flinders Power to realise they’ve been put on notice,” he said.
Flinders Power said it remains committed to completing the rehabilitation project and would continue to provide updates for the community.
The company’s most recent update was provided in August.