Port Augusta Power Stations Site (Flinders Power)
Community information session
Monday, 6 February 2017
9 am – 9 pm informal ’drop in’ session, please come anytime
Port Augusta Institute, 52 Commercial Road
RSVP: To assist us in planning the session, please let us know when you might attend by registering your interest with EventBrite, via email or by phoning us on (08) 8204 2004.
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.
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.
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:
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.
EPA licence requirements – air monitoring and reporting data
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 five 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).
This network operates one day in every six and each sampler measures continuously for a 24-hour period. The data is then integrated to give one TSP and one PM10 reading for that 24-hour period. Monthly reports are provided to the EPA.
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.
- 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
On 9 May 2016, power generating operations at the Port Augusta Power Stations site ceased.
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.
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.