On Thursday 5 April 2001, Jim Clements, EPA Metropolitan Regional Manager, told the CICCC that EPA had received an unprecedented number of odour complaints from P&O Ports during March 2001. These complaints mainly relate to discharges of ethyl acrylate from Terminals Pty Ltd facility. On 23 March 2001 EPA served a Minor Works Pollution Abatement Notice on Terminals, requiring an audit of odour emission sources to be conducted within one week. For a two week period EPA has stationed an officer at the P&O Ports site, and established an after hours call-out service. Two $5,000 penalty infringement notices have been issued on Terminals, and air pollution charges have been laid relating to an ethyl acrylate discharge incident on 28 December 2000, when P&O Ports employees reported being physically ill.
Terminals General Manager Peter Reddie advised the Committee that the recent incidents had arisen from a combination of factors. These include low levels of ethyl acrylate in the storage tank, and large temperature differences between day and night times. Both these factors contribute to an increase in the volume of ethyl acrylate vapour emitted through the tank vent, placing a larger load on the vapour emission control system. “As a result of our investigation we have found that even operating at licence limits, detectable odours could still occur in parts of the container terminal” Peter advised the meeting. “As an interim measure we will remove ethyl acrylate from Plant C due to the proximity of the tank’s vapour emission control system to the P&O Ports boundary. We will consolidate all storage of ethyl acrylate in the existing tank in the Plant B site.”
Jim Clements acknowledged that EPA was pleased with Terminals’ positive response the situation. “The EPA has issued an amended licence to Terminals on 5 April 2001 requiring a range of controls to avoid further odour problems” Jim said.
The Committee was disturbed to learn that the Government has terminated Terminals agreement for the long term lease of the BP site, following Terminals’ failure to reach agreement on forward storage contracts with some of its customers.
The Committee discussed the statement provided by Marstel, which advised that:
“At the invitation of the Victorian Chemical Manufacturers Bulk Storage Group (VCMBSG), Marstel Terminals have prepared a proposal for the development of a new bulk liquid storage terminal on the area known as the BP site. Today this proposal has been sent to the Victorian State Government. While awaiting government response, a project team has been formed to move ahead with the preliminary engineering and commence preparation of the EPA Works Approval Application.”
The Committee is most concerned that the significant improvements to safety and environmental quality associated with the upgrade, for which Terminals has secured an EPA Works Approval, will now either be delayed, or might not proceed. The Committee has invited Mr Ross Petersen, Director of the Major Projects Division, Department of State and Regional Development, to attend the next meeting on 10 May 2001, and to clarify the Government’s approach to Coode Island.
Members of the public are welcome to attend the meeting at the Maribyrnong Town Hall on the corner of Hyde and Napier Streets, Footscray at 6.30 pm. Other items on the agenda include a presentation of a Groundwater and Site Soil Survey by EPA and Terminals, and further advice on the consultation proposed on the pilot safety case.
Robin Saunders, Chair CICCC, 10 April 2001