Reporting Pollution Botany Bay

Could the NSW EPA run a simpler system for reporting industrial pollution.  A system that encourages people to snap and send  rather than be responsible for identifying the source of pollution and referring it to the polluter (see below).  Shouldn’t the EPA want to know the extent of industrial pollution being observed?  Shouldn’t it want to engage with the public – referred to as its ‘eyes and ears’ – and assure them.  This thick black smoke at peak hour on a Monday morning was not observed in some gasfield, but only 10km from the centre of Australia’s largest city.

The photo of this flare was taken at around 8.35am on the 21st May, 2018, and uploaded soon after to twitter, with the EPA tagged.  There was no answer from the EPA and the question of ‘whose flare’ was asked again on 25th May with the Minister, Gabrielle Upton also tagged.  Again no answer.  The photo was then sent  by email to the EPA environment line – info@environment.nsw.gov.au on 27th May.

Responses were received on the 29th and 30th to say the flare was from Qenos ‘in Matraville’ (it is in Banksmeadow not Matraville).  In the response of the 30th:

               Modelling of past flaring events indicates that this flaring is unlikely to have had                any significant adverse impact on human health or the environment.

There was no ‘thank you for reporting this’, more a tone of ‘nothing to see here’.  Thick black smoke is a reason for alarm as evidenced by  an event at Qenos in 2016 – and a  larger one in 2010 when 14 fire trucks were sent to 7 different locations. 

Flaring is worth discussing not only because of the pollutants, especially particulates, and greenhouse emissions but because of the perceived threat.

This was the acknowledgement on the 27th May

Thank you for your enquiry. The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) and the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) will respond to simple requests and enquiries within 5 working days. For enquiries or requests that are more involved or technical, a longer response time may be necessary. If you have not already visited our websites and wish to do so, please go to www.environment.nsw.gov.au or www.epa.nsw.gov.au

If you are emailing to report an urgent pollution incident, please call 131 555 (press option 1).

Please note that in sending us an email, we will record your email address for the purpose of responding to your enquiry. If your email requires a transaction or another more detailed service, we may record the personal details you supply, or request further details from you in order to provide the service you have requested. Where this is not necessary you can request your details remain anonymous or confidential. Details of our Privacy information can be found on the website at www.environment.nsw.gov.au/whoweare/privacy.htm.

When sending further emails about this topic (Flare pollution), please ensure the following extended Reference Id appears anywhere in the email subject or body:  ref:_00D90ZANp._5006F1iVRw7:ref

On 29th May a response was received :

Use of flares comes under Roads & Maritime Authority legislation so you may wish to contact the Maritime unit on 131 256. I believe it is an offence to let off flares if not an emergency situation. The EPA does not regulate this. regards xxxxx EPA Environment  Line Phone 131 555

Reply same day: Dear xxxx, did you look at the photograph I sent?

Response same day:  No I did realised a photo was attached. The emails come through a software that doesn’t show photos unless notified. Can you advise the location where this photo was taken?  regards  xxxxx

And response soon after, same day:  I found the photo attached to your email. I have logged an incident report. The flare was from the Qenos Plant in Matraville as they advised the EPA on 21/5/18 they would be activating its elevated flare due to a plant malfunction. EPA advised this appears to be an appropriate response by the licensee. Apparently it is a clean-burn at present. regards  xxxx

Response following day, 30th May

Qenos activated an elevated flare at its licensed premises at Botany Industrial Park between 8:30 and 9:30am on Monday 21 May 2018. The elevated flare was activated as a safety measure following a boiler shutdown and loss of steam at the premises. Intermittent smoke from the flare was visible between 8:35 and 8:42am.

Qenos notified the EPA of the flaring in accordance with the requirements of Environment Protection Licence 10000 and has undertaken an investigation into the cause of the steam loss and provided information to the EPA.

Modelling of past flaring events indicates that this flaring is unlikely to have had any significant adverse impact on human health or the environment.

If you have any further questions in relation to this event please contact me as below.

Kind regards  xxxx

What the EPA says about reporting pollution:

In most cases, concerns about pollution should be referred to the source or person causing the problem. The contact telephone numbers on this page should be used when an approach to the person causing the problem has not been or is unlikely to be successful.

If you observe pollution

Note as many details of the incident as possible, including time, date, location, descriptions of the people involved, vehicles and number plates and anything else noticed.

For major pollution incidents

If the incident presents an immediate threat to human health or property, such as toxic fumes or a large chemical spill, call 000 to report it immediately to emergency services. As first responders, Fire and Rescue NSW, the NSW Police and the NSW Ambulance Service are responsible for controlling and containing incidents.

 

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