Fact sheets and analysis of the Tamar valley pulp mill proposal

1. Fact sheets and charts showing the essentials

TAP produced a series of fact sheets and charts describing significant impacts of the proposed pulp mill and its wood supply on the economy, environment and population of Tasmania. These impacts are largely being ignored by the Government and the proponent.

The pulp mill risks and what the Upper House can do to protect the community
Despite assurances to the contrary, there is risk that the pulp mill will perform in the way that so many other ECF mills in the world have performed. Further more, its ‘world scale’ resource requirements will harm other users of forests, water and land such as farmers, tourism operators, rural centres and fishermen.

How can the Legislative Council deal with the risk? As a house of review, it should vote neither yes or nor no to the mill proposal until complete information about the mill’s impacts is provided, publicised and properly debated.

Download ‘The risks and the imperative to vote no.pdf’ for a one page outline of the problem and solution.


The elephant in the room. Forest plans do not acknowledge the impact of forest activities on river flows and other water users.
Water shortages are potentially the greatest threat to Tasmania’s social and economic well being. The Forestry Growth Plan, the Intensive Forest Management Strategy and the Plantations for Australian: The 2020 Vision do not consider the water resource and do not acknowledge other water users. This is a major concern given the rate that the forest industry is expanding.

The downloadable file ‘Managing our forested land for an adequate water resource Summary.pdf’ is an extract of some key points made in a submission to the Tasmanian Forest Agreement 10 year review in July 2007 by Dominik Jaskierniak.


Plantations lock in water shortages
Water is becoming more precious.

The critical risks to farmers, communities and towns from falling water supplies because of consumption by the plantations for the proposed pulp mill has been overlooked by the Government and its consultants, Sweco Pic and ITS Global.

Community studies show that river flows in an estimated 20 of 24 northern catchments were diminishing by 2006 due to expanding plantations (based on Private Forest Tasmania data).

Downloadable files ‘Depletion of water by plantations data table v109.pdf’ and ‘Depletion of water by plantations catchment map v109’ show the extent of the damage to catchments in northern Tasmania.

Critical information missing from the pulp mill assessment process
When evaluating a large complex proposal, it is essential to review all aspects and its impacts in order to make an informed decision. Matters that concern the community include impacts on the top 3 priorities for life - air, food and water.

Yet the Labor Government’s fast track assessment avoids 90% of these critical impacts. The pulp mill impacts diagram described above in point 2 has been updated to show which impacts were missed by Sweco Pic's report. Download the Critical missing information.pdf.

The jobs and value of industries at risk over a 20 year period from the pulp mill
See the downloadable '20 yr job and cost risks to community.pdf' chart of the estimated value of industry sectors ($bn) and the number of jobs at risk in the Tasmanian economy over a 20 year period from the proposed pulp mill.

Four sectors were assessed viz. food production, tourism, property and fishing using ABS data, public submissions to the RPDC and discussions with industry operators. The value and jobs at risk in other sectors of the economy could not be quantified viz. water, health, wine, recreation and Tasmania’s clean green brand with the limited resources available to the community.

These risks have not been recognised or their consequences understood by the State Labor Government's fast track assessment process of the pulp mill.

Why are they hiding the costs?
Without guaranteed protection for industry, Tasmania stands to lose a lot more than it gains from the proposed pulp mill. The chart in "Why are they hiding the costs" estimates that the annual economic cost to existing industries in Tasmania will exceed $570 million. The State Government has steadfastly ignored any assessment of costs. The brief for the government commissioned ITS Global report was to examine the economic benefits only. Download the pdf file from below.

Summary of Issues re the Pulp Mill v002
Download the file below. This analysis as at 17- March 2007 and comment centres around several key questions:

  • In whose interest was the RPDC process scuttled?
  • Why are the politicians changing the rules?
  • Does a ‘world scale’ mill mean ‘world scale’ damage?
  • Not enough water, who will miss out?

Chart of water use in Tasmania 1975 – 2020.
Down load the chart of water use in Tasmania below. As rainfall continues to decline, our rivers and lakes are drying up (e.g. Great Lake down to 12% in May 07) indicating that demand for water in Tasmania already exceeds available supply from groundwater, dams and lakes. Despite this, demands for water are increasing. This is especially true for tree plantations that require water guarantees for decades and, given the huge land areas involved together with their usual locations in upper catchments, their drain on our water supplies is enormous. The requirement for plantations to feed the proposed pulp mill and chip export markets is around 1100 Gl/yr by 2020. Data collated from Tasmanian Department of Primary Industry and Water reports, pulp mill proponent’s Integrated Impact Statement to the Resource Planning and Development Commission (RPDC), and hydrological modelling (TasLUCaS) of production forestry impacts.

Government actions and consequences
Download this flow chart to see how the actions of the Tasmanian government over the proposed Tamar valley pulp mill produced consequences both intended and unintended.

Reading from left to right, each action leads to (lines) results or consequences, many of which themselves create other consequences. By understanding these relationships, we can explore the causes and begin to solve the problems created. Roll your mouse over the elements of the picture to see drop down windows explaining more.

Water fact sheet No 7
This fact sheet summarises the huge impacts of the mill and its wood supply on water availability in Tasmania. Plantations required to grow up to 7 million tonnes per year of woodchips for the pulp mill and export market will soak up around 1100 Gigalitres/yr from ground water supplies in northern and eastern Tasmania over and above normal amounts used by vegetation that existed before converting to plantation. This is more than 35x all water supplied to domestic and industrial users by water authorities in northern Tasmania. Get the download below.

RPDC decision making process and some risks
Follow the arrows on this graphic through the decision making process used by the RPDC and find where it can all go pear shaped for industries and the public. Get the download below.

World Scale problems fact sheet No 5
This fact sheet summarises pulp mill impacts on land, air, sea and economics of Tasmania. Get the download below.


2. Pulp mill impacts diagram showing all of the pulp mill impacts identified by the community

Executive Planning has continued to refine a chart (physical size = 1m x 2.5m) showing the full impacts of the proposed pulp mill on every aspect of the economy and environment of Tasmania. Rather than the very selective (cherry-picked) impacts addressed by the proponent's Integrated Impact Statement, the aim was to graphically demonstrate: - the totality of the proposed project's impacts; - the dimension of such a project's impacts.

The file downloads available below are low resolution images of an early version of the chart - overview (152Kb), and full size (436Kb) but like the proposal's impacts, the full size copy is vast and far too big to be adequately read here. The file downloads available below are simply an indication of scope of the diagram.

The Pulp mill impacts diagram is copyright Executive Planning. All rights reserved. To purchase a copy of the diagram please contact Executive Planning, email wilsonpt@bigpond.com, providing contact details etc.


3. Analysis and comment

Where is the risk assessment?

In the current pulp mill debate and assessment process there seems to be one glaring omission. There is an Australian Standard (AS 4360 2004) for Risk Management of all large engineering works, as well as Occupational Health and Safety requirements during their operational life.

Has a risk assessment been made for this proposed pulp mill structure and it subsequent operation, other than Gunns’ own economic risk?

What are the dangers to which both workers and the community at large would be exposed? Surely the public should be entitled to demand a complete risk management assessment in accordance with the existing Australian standard before any further work proceeds.

Is it insurable, or has it been insured, against injury or loss to individuals or communities potentially affected adversely by its operations?

Are we not entitled to know the real levels of risk entailed in that proposal?

If the answers are no, then something seems badly amiss.

Owen Ingles (retired risk assessor)


To the Decision Makers in our Federal, State and Local Governments
Letter written by local Chilean scientist who wishes to remain anonymous.
The Tasmanian Premier, Mr Lennon, said that “Tasmania is not Latin America”, in reply to a statement from the House that a Chilean pulp mill similar to the one proposed for the Tamar Valley had caused some troubles. There are, indeed, some important differences but also some close similarities between the Tasmanian and Chilean situations in regard to pulp mills.

Take a virtual trip to Chile and learn about the effects of world class pulp mills on their economy and society and implications for Tasmania. Download ‘The Chile pulp mill experience.pdf’.



What the Premier promised about the pulp mill in 2004 and what he delivered in 2007

Extracts from the speech made in 2004 and reality in 2007. Download the full speech from the link below.

‘A pulp mill that meets the world’s toughest emission standards, and that’s what we’ll have, will enable us to maintain a land, sea and air environment that we can still call pristine.’

[Section D5.15 of Lennon’s ‘tough’ guidelines allow a mill to pollute the air of the Tamar valley for 2 years before the regulator has to investigate.]

‘A Tasmanian mill will be safe for the community and will have the minimum environmental impact possible in the world today.’

[So it is sited in a valley that traps air pollutants and is home for 100,000 people.]

‘The best feedstock for a TCF or an ECF mill is plantation eucalypts. They are better than regrowth timber and infinitely better than oldgrowth. So let’s scotch the myth from the start. A new pulp mill will not hinge on continued access to oldgrowth forests.’

[The mill is to use 80% oldgrowth trees until plantations are ready but tree growth will slow because of drought and climate change.]

(This project) ‘will need the support of a well-informed and engaged community. My Government is committed to the people of Tasmania and to the Parliament of Tasmania having every opportunity to be engaged and to examine it in close detail.’

[The well informed community have been disengaged.]

‘This will be a thorough approval process – a painstaking process. No stone will be left unturned. No voice will go unheard.’

[RPDC process axed in favour of fast tracking. No voices to be heard.]

‘The (RPDC) commission process is inquisitorial and thorough. It rejects the projects that people have real concerns about – like Oceanport – and embraces those supported by evidence and that people can be comfortable with – like Basslink.’

[The inquisitorial, thorough process axed in favour of fast tracking and no public hearings allowed.]

‘This is an inclusive exercise. We want the community to be involved and to be informed. We want the community to be inquisitive. We want the community to ask questions on matters it needs answered.’

[No public input in fast track process allowed. Community not wanted]

‘Mr Speaker, What I have described today is a highway code for anybody who wishes to develop a pulp mill in Tasmania. They are the rules that must be followed. They are the tests that will be applied to ensure that any proposal meets our requirement for environmental compatibility with everything that Tasmania stands for today.’

[The highway code, the rules and the tests scrapped by the proponent and the government because the mill would not be compatible with everything that Tasmania stands for today.]



Pulp mill impacts diagram overview.gif152.15 KB
Pulp mill impacts diagram full size.gif436.5 KB
RPDC process and risks v 061.wmf52.84 KB
Water fact page No 7 v 103.pdf39.39 KB
World Scale Problems fact sheet No 5 v 106.pdf490.3 KB
Gov actions and consequences v 063 unrestricted.pdf287.89 KB
Summary of issues re pulp mill v002.pdf82.86 KB
Lennons speech to Parlt 2004 re pulp mill.pdf121.68 KB
Water use in Tasmania 1975 to 2020.pdf54.17 KB
Why are they hiding the costs.pdf332.93 KB
20 yr cost and job risks to community.pdf61.25 KB
Critical missing information.pdf638.01 KB
Depletion of water by plantations catchment map v109 portrait.pdf59.41 KB
Depletion of water by plantations data table v109.pdf17.51 KB
Managing our forested land for an adequate water resource Summary.pdf20.56 KB
The Chile pulp mill experience.pdf23.07 KB
The risks and the imperative to vote no.pdf11.25 KB