Port Augusta Power Stations Site (Flinders Power)
The EPA has been liaising extensively with the Port Augusta community since the beginning of the year, with individual phone calls, emails and meetings with residents in Port Augusta. In addition, we have commenced a series of regular updates in order to help keep you informed of activities taking place. Please see below for the latest:
- 17 February 2017
- FAQs, 3 February 2017
- 27 January 2017
- 13 January 2017
- 8 January 2017
- 6 January 2017
- SA Health risk assessment of airborne dust
- Asbestos report, 13 January 2017
- Air quality monitoring in Port Augusta
- Odour legislation and Bird Lake
- Assessment of site contamination information sheet
14 February update (issued 3 February)
Status of required actions by Flinders Power to comply with EPA Environment Protection Order (EPO)
|Environment Protection Order requirement||Compliance date||Status|
|Re-apply dust suppressant to achieve full coverage of the ash dam in accordance with the Dust Management Plan dated November 2016.||30 January 2017 (varied)||Completed 25 January 2017|
|Undertake a Root Cause Analysis (RCA) of the Dust Event and provide a report on the RCA to the EPA’s satisfaction||27 January 2017||Received 25 January 2017, further revision required|
|Undertake a review of the Closure Plan – Augusta Power Stations dated October 2016 and the Dust Management Plan dated November 2016 (the Plans), in light of the RCA and provide revised versions of the Plans to the EPA’s satisfaction.||3 February 2017||Received 3 February 2017, further revision required|
|Increase the frequency of TSP and PM10 sampling to daily at the 5 locations within the Port August township and provide results to the EPA||Forthwith and until notified in writing by the EPA||Commenced from 11 January 2017, results provided on EPA website|
|Provide a revised version of the Ash Dam Rehabilitation Plan (as required by the Environmental Closure and Post Closure Plan – August Power Stations dated October 2016) to the EPA’s satisfaction and including endorsement by the site contamination auditor for the Site.||3 February 2017||Draft plan received. Extension granted to 3 March 2017 for final plan|
Aerial spraying of suppressant over the entire ash dam has been completed. Photos showing progress of aerial spraying and construction of access fingers for application of topsoil. Pictures courtesy Flinders Power.
A check of aerial photos of Port Augusta ash dam shows overnight rainfall appears to have not had a detrimental affect on the dust suppressant. Spraying will continue in coming days.
The presentation shows the amount of dust in the air at the various air quality monitoring stations operated by Flinders Power, for the last 12 months.
The EPA has extended the date to a condition of an Environment Protection Order (EPO) issued to Flinders Power which enforces the company’s Dust Management Plan at the former Port Augusta power station.
EPA CE Tony Circelli is in Port August today to meet with stakeholders and the community, and view work in progress at the power station site.
Flinders Power is respraying dust suppressant onto the ash dam which will take a few weeks to complete in addition to the use of water carts.
The long-term remediation of revegetating the area has already begun with 100 loads of topsoil placed on the surface of and pushed out to construct the first 'access finger'. This will continue until completed.
No asbestos was detected in the air quality sampling collected on 1 January 2017 by Flinders Power – full report
Ongoing air quality sampling is in place for asbestos, TSP & PM10 at the 5 sites, and results will be posted when available.
An environment protection order was served on 9 January 2017 to secure compliance from Flinders Power.
Odour surveys, Bird Lake
Several odour surveys (3 and 16 February 2017) have been carried out to determine the extent of odours from Bird Lake located on the eastern side of the City of Port Augusta. The odour from Bird Lake was characterised by an offensive fishy, bait odour.
A comparison between the odour surveys found no discernible difference in the strength and offensiveness of the odours coming from Bird Lake. The survey indicated that the odour suppression used by the council has not significantly reduced the strength or offensiveness of the odour. The wind conditions for both surveys are characterised as having a wind direction of SE to SSE with a wind speed range from 9 km/h up to 26 km/h.
The strength of the odour had reduced at two locations along Hannagan Street. Using the Nasal Ranger the strength reduced from a detection at dilution 2:1 to only detecting the odour at no dilution. However, the fishy odour was able to be detected along Edinburgh Terrace and at Clontarf Street at no dilution, during the second survey where they were not detected previously.
The survey on the 16 February 2017 identified 2 distinct offensive odours. A fishy odour coming from the waters in Bird Lake identified in the residential areas of Willsden and a musty, rotting organic odour from the mud flats along the eastern side of Bird Lake.
See also Odour legislation and Bird Lake
Air quality in Port Augusta is being monitored to identify and track dust impacts on the community. Flinders Power is required to undertake monitoring as part of its licence conditions and report results back.
Flinders Power has 5 stations in the community and the EPA has installed an additional 2 stations (hightlighted in green) which will track particulate matter such as TSP (total suspended particulates) and PM10 (particles with sizes up to 10 micrometres) in the air.
** The EPA has reviewed the data from the air quality monitoring stations and a regional dust event on 11 February 2017 caused the spike picked up by the air monitoring network. While there was some localised dust at the Flinders Power stations site, meteorological conditions at the time show that this is not the cause of the dust experienced across Port Augusta and Stirling North. The Flinders Power dust was contained on site and reduced quickly due to action taken on their part.
For more air quality monitoring data, see EPA licence requirements below.
Map showing monitoring station locations (EPA and Flinders Power)
TSP (1 January 2017 to present)
PM10 (1 January to present)
TSP and PM10 (1 January 2017 to present)
Advice from SA Health
For health advice, please visit the SA Health Dust and your health.
SA Health has set up a hotline for residents with health concerns or questions. For health related information and advice, please tel: (08) 8226 7100.
The EPA has been working closely with public health experts in SA Health to ensure that any potential health impacts are identified. The EPA sent its monitoring data and samples to an accredited laboratory and provided the results to SA Health for assessment.
What is in the dust?
In the second half of 2016, the EPA installed its own air quality monitoring equipment adjacent to the ash dam to collect samples and to ascertain the composition of the dust.
Samples of dust from the ash dam have been analysed – Dust sample result
While any dust is potentially harmful to health and is treated seriously by the EPA, the ash dam dust has been analysed and SA Health advises that the airborne dust contains minimal toxic metals and substances.
The ash sample was taken from next to the ash dam in October. The EPA is currently taking further samples for analysis and will publish results when available.
When coal was combusted in the boilers during power station operations, it produced fly ash and bottom ash. The bottom ash is a heavier ash, which fell to the bottom of the boilers. It was then collected in pits underneath the power stations, mixed with seawater and pumped as a slurry into the dam.
Fly ash is a different type of ash which is finer and lighter. As it is much lighter than bottom ash, fly ash does not tend to fall to the bottom of the boilers and had to be collected via other methods (eg via electrostatic precipitators). Fly ash has properties which make it suitable for use in other industries, so a large volume of this ash was removed from the site for re-use.
As a condition of its EPA licence, Flinders Power is required to undertake ambient monitoring and reporting. The ambient air quality monitoring network consists of 5 off-site high-volume air samplers (HVS).
These air samplers record all solid and liquid particles in the atmosphere by monitoring total suspended particulates (TSP), and 4 of the 5 samplers also monitor PM10 particles (particulate matter 10 micrometers or less in diameter).
Until recently this network operated 1 day in every 6 and each sampler measures continuously for a 24-hour period. The data is then integrated to give a TSP and a PM10 reading for that 24-hour period. Monthly reports are provided to the EPA. Since 11 January 2017, daily sampling has been undertaken at all 5 monitoring sites (see above section on Current air quality monitoring).
Flinders Power has installed equipment to carry out continuous monitoring of PM10 at Lea Memorial Oval and Stirling North. This equipment constantly measures PM10 and combines the continuous information to calculate the ‘24-hour Average PM10’. More intensive monitoring provides information on the variation in dust throughout the day and pick up short-term ‘spikes’ in dust, unlike the previous monitoring which averaged the result across 24 hours.
Three optical air quality monitoring sensors are now installed at the boundary of the ash dam to provide data on the amount of dust arising from the ash dam itself or from earthmoving works that are extracting, transporting and spreading soil onto the ash dam as part of the long-term Ash Dam Rehabilitation Plan.
If excessive dust is being generated due to higher wind conditions, the data from the optical sensors will trigger increased dust control measures or modifications to/shutdown of construction activity, based on a Trigger Action Response Plan. The readings from the optical sensors will be compared to those from the continuous PM10 high volume samplers at the Lea Memorial Oval and Stirling North, and be used to fine tune the Trigger Action Response Plan, to better manage the dust generated by the construction activity that is an essential part of the ash dam rehabilitation process.
High-volume air sampler locations
- TSP & PM10 – Lea Memorial Oval, Stirling North, PA Tennis Club and Pigeon Club
- TSP – Port Augusta Hospital
Monthly reports submitted from January 2016 to date
2005–16 high volume air samplers monitoring
Following community concern about dust emissions from the ash dam in August 2016, the EPA installed its own air quality monitoring equipment adjacent to the ash dam to collect samples and to ascertain the composition of the dust. The samples were subsequently sent to NATA-accredited laboratories for analysis.
The EPA has been working with SA Health regarding its monitoring approach and provided the air quality monitoring results. SA Health has examined the monitoring results and advises that the airborne dust contains minimal toxic metals and substances.
- EPA expands air quality monitoring network, 27 February 2017
- Community information session is well received, 7 February 2017
- Dust suppressant spraying completed in Port Augusta, 25 January 2017
- EPA to host a community information session, 25 January 2017
- Port Augusta City Council discussions, 23 January 2017
- Flinders Power extension to complete dust spraying, 13 January 2017
- Port Augusta dust strong wind alert,11 January 2017
- EPO issued to reduce Port Augusta dust events,10 January 2017
- Dust samples analysed from defunct power station, 20 December 2016
- Dust monitoring continues at Flinders Power, 13 September 2016
The Port Augusta Power Stations site is regulated by the EPA under the Environment Protection Act 1993 for several activities of environmental significance. A condition of licence requires owner Flinders Power to develop a closure plan to address environmental considerations at the site. This includes, but is not limited to:
- decommissioning and decontamination of coal burning equipment
- removal of coal from the coal stockpile and other coal handling areas
- ash dam rehabilitation
- assessment and removal of chemicals and hazardous materials
- removal of waste including appropriate disposal of asbestos.
Flinders Power is required to meet specified actions, timeframes and milestones in regards to each of the above environmental considerations.
To minimise potential dust nuisance impacts to the community, consideration of dust management measures is also required.
To address site contamination investigation and assessment, the EPA has entered into a voluntary site contamination assessment proposal with Flinders Power.
Since the announcement that the power stations were closing, the EPA placed a number of conditions on Flinders Power to ensure it met environmental considerations, including controlling dust from the ash dam.
In the longer term, Flinders Power plans to cover the 220-hectare ash dam with soil and vegetate the area. As this takes time, dust suppressant was considered the best option in the short term.
Flinders Power sprayed dust suppressant over the ash dam by aerial spraying during November and observations indicated that this was controlling dust.
Since that time there have been strong southerly winds which caused dust to blow over the township. Between 27 and 29 December 2016 about 60 mm of rain fell over Port Augusta and washed away areas of dust suppressant.
The EPA met with Flinders Power on 3 January 2017 and inspected the site on 4 January to ensure that all possible measures are being taken to minimise the dust.
EPA regulation of dust events
Dust particles themselves may cause health effects irrespective of their elemental make-up and as such the EPA remains committed to working closely with Flinders Power to minimise dust events.
To achieve this, the EPA is taking the following mitigating actions:
- Increasing EPA presence in Port Augusta through inspections and engagement with local council.
- Ensuring Flinders Power has an approved Dust Management Plan with controls reflective of the changed site conditions, and verifying that Flinders Power complies with the plan.
- Requiring Flinders Power to update its monitoring network to install 3 continuous PM10 monitors surrounding the ash dam, and 2 continuous PM10 monitors at locations within the Port Augusta Township.
- Analysing historical data to determine seasonal trends and baseline data to better understand regional conditions.
- Ensuring Flinders Power advises the EPA of any future actions, trials or closure activity that may require amendments to current dust management controls.
If you require further information from the EPA, please email or tel: (08) 8204 2004.
For health-related information and advice, please tel: (08) 8226 7100.
If you have made a report about the January dust incident to the EPA, and would like to provide more details, please contact us on 8204 2004 or by email and we will send you a copy of the self-administered interview template.