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EPA considers proposal for a salmon nursery at Whale Point, Port Huon

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has concluded its assessment of a proposed salmon nursery at Whale Point, Port Huon in Huon Valley Council.

The proposal from Huon Aquaculture Group Ltd for the salmon nursery is for a recirculating aquaculture system that can produce up to 800 tonnes per year of smolt (juvenile salmon) for grow-out at its marine leases. The nursery includes a wastewater treatment plant to enable Huon Aquaculture to reuse its wastewater, supplemented with rain and river water, to grow the smolt. Whale Point is a former industrial site used for pulp and paper mill operations from the late 1930’s but it has been used by aquaculture companies since 2002.

The Chair of the EPA Board, Mr Warren Jones, said that the Board concluded the proposed development could be managed in an environmentally sustainable and acceptable manner, with certain conditions. The EPA requires these conditions to be included in any permit subsequently granted by the Huon Valley Council.

"Various environmental issues were considered by the Board in its assessment, particularly the risk of mobilising potential contaminants and the risk of nutrient enrichment of the marine environment," Mr Jones said.

The permit application was referred to the Board in October 2017 and advertised for public consultation for 28 days from 2 September 2017. Four representations were received which raised environmental issues about biosecurity risks, noise, odour, contaminated soils and the potential for a discharge of nutrient rich process water from the facility.

Mr Jones said that the EPA’s conditions applied to biosecurity management, noise emission limits, contaminated soils management, odour management, and wastewater limits and monitoring.

"In addition, Huon Aquaculture must implement and act in accordance with a number of monitoring and management plans to be approved by the Director", he said.

"These include a Biosecurity Management Plan, prepared in consultation with the EPA and Biosecurity Tasmania, which will identify biosecurity vectors and describe management measures to minimise biosecurity risks associated with the activities on the site.

"A Construction Environmental Management Plan is required to specify the measures needed to avoid or minimise potential environmental impacts during the construction phase, including controls around noise, dust, soil, hazardous materials, weeds, pests, diseases and stormwater drainage.

"A Groundwater and Surface Water Monitoring Plan is needed to define the sampling required for potential contaminants, trigger values and actions that will be taken if they were to be exceeded.

"Stringent water quality limits have been set for the wastewater that is discharged from the nursery into net-liners floating beside the Whale Point Jetty in Hospital Bay," he said.

"In relation to noise, strict conditions have been set to limit noise emissions from the activity at residences and public facilities during day, evening and night times," Mr Jones said.

The proposal was considered by the Board in the context of the sustainable development objectives of the Resource Management and Planning System of Tasmania (RMPS), and in the context of the objectives of the Environmental Management and Pollution Control System (EMPCS) established by the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (the EMPC Act).

The functions of the Board are to administer and enforce the provisions of EMPCA, and in particular to use its best endeavours to protect the environment of Tasmania, and to further the RMPS and EMPCS objectives.

The Board undertook the assessment of the proposal in accordance with the Environmental Impact Assessment Principles defined in Section 74 of the Act.

The Board’s environmental assessment, including the environmental conditions that must be included in any permit, have been forwarded to the Huon Valley Council, for review of planning issues prior to making a decision as to whether a permit is to be granted.

The decision by the EPA Board can be viewed on the EPA website at www.epa.tas.gov.au/assessment/completed-assessments.

The Environment Protection Authority acknowledges the Tasmanian Aboriginal people as the traditional custodians of lutruwita (Tasmania) and pays respect to their Elders, past and present.