Leaked letters between Gunns and the RPDC on fugitive odours

On 6 July 2005, the Resource Planning and Development Commission wrote a confidential letter to John Gay of Gunns detailing two major concerns with the planned pulp mill. These were that:

  • the proposed process for making chlorine dioxide is not considered accepted modern technology and would breach Tasmanian guidelines and possibly breach the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, and
  • that the mill has no plans for controlling fugitive odours from hundreds of emission points (drains, pump seals, pipe connections and vessels) which will cause significant nuisance and diminution in quality of life for people living in the mill area.

 On the 12 July 2005, John Gay responded:

  • that Jaako Poyry have advised Gunns that the chlorine dioxide process can be demonstrated as accepted modern technology, and,
  • that fugitive emissions issue will be addressed in the Integrated Impact Statement.

The State Labor Government refused to allow the two letters to be tabled in Parliament (1 July 09).

Download the two confidential letters from below.

What happened then...

In March 2007 Gunns pulled out of the RPDC assessment. It emerged sometime later that a letter from the RPDC was about to be sent to Gunns stating that the proposal was critically deficient in eight key areas.

Despite claims by Gunns, the control of fugitive odours has still not been addressed according to pulp and paper expert Dr Warwick Raverty.

Section D.5.15 of the air emission guidelines allows the pulp mill to produce fugitive odours for 2 years after start up before the government regulator is required to act. Then, a regulator appointed expert does a review and makes some suggestions about what to do.  However, there is no requirement in the guidelines for Gunns to do what the expert says. See all bark and no teeth.

Concerns over the non standard method for producing chlorine dioxide remain unanswered.

The State Government's own fast track Pulp Mill Assessment Act 2007 contains a provision (Section 11) that blocks any person from accessing the courts to seek compensation for damages arising from the pulp mill.

The way is open for Gunns to ignore the impact of fugitive odours on the health of the population living within a 110k-wide circle of the pulp mill.

RPDC letter to Gunns 6 July 05.pdf1.62 MB
Gunns response to RPDC 12 July 05.pdf633.36 KB