Facility that discharged cyanide into harbour given restart
A COUNCIL facility that discharged cyanide into the harbour in 2012 has been given the thumbs up by Gladstone Regional Council to restart at a cost of $460,000.
The Yarwun Tradewaste Facility was the first item on the agenda yesterday at Gladstone Regional Council’s October general meeting.
Councillors voted on whether to endorse the continued operation of the Yarwun Tradewaste Facility (YTWF); and authorise the Chief Executive Officer to enter into agreements with current and future customers, which were recommended by council staff.
The Mount Larcom Road Yarwun Tradewaste Facility uses gravity to discharge treated waste effluent into Gladstone Harbour.
The facility accepts, balances and discharges the liquid waste, currently only from Orica, via a below water diffuser arrangement located off the Gladstone Ports Corporation wharf at Fisherman’s Landing.
In 2012 cyanide was discharged into the harbour through the facility.
“Following an uncontrolled release of cyanide into the Gladstone Harbour in 2012, Council resolved to remove itself from the operation and/or ownership of the Yarwun Tradewaste Facility,” council papers stated.
Since then the council has been working with Orica and in 2019, was approached by several businesses to use the YTWF, so the feasibility of using the facility again was explored.
Recommended works to improve the facility were to desilt the discharge diffusers to return to maximum operation capacity, unblock discharge pipework, replace a collection tank discharge flow meter, replace pit lids, replace and vermin proofing soil below concrete slabs and investigate the Fisherman’s Landing diffuser arrangements.
Council staff estimated the cost “to address current capacity and condition issues and implement good asset management practices.”
The immediate estimated cost to start operations at the facility is $460,000, with an additional $330,000 estimated expenditure in the next two years.
Cr Chris Trevor told the meeting he wasn’t aware cyanide had been released into the harbour in 2012.
“If we were to proceed with this facility, we’re going to have to spend $400,000 to unblock the blockages,” he said.
“If we continue to have ownership of this thing and bring online other tradewaste users, how are we going to be able to deal with any other dangerous chemicals being released into the Gladstone Harbour?
“What exposure legally does the Gladstone regional council have as owner operator of that facility?”
“It’s just sour for me, I just don’t feel comfortable with it because of the potential risk, from a legal liability view.”
Councillors heard due to current land use agreements covering pipeline infrastructure, it would be very difficult to sell the YTWF as an ongoing operation to a private company.
Any potential buyer would have to negotiate land access agreements to maintain the infrastructure of the entire YTWF and potentially lease land occupied by the infrastructure.
The income of the YTWF was not disclosed on council papers.
Councillors unanimously voted to endorse the operation of the YTWF and the CEO entering into agreements with more users.