We are concerned about the environmental effects of emissions from the plant, particularly on the many rural residences near the plant and the closest towns of Mogo, Tomakin, Mossy Point and Broulee. See a map of expected smoke drift patterns. There are four schools and a retirement village in this area. How will the pollution of this industry affect the children attending these schools, and the elderly? At the public meeting on 26 September 2001, a representative of the Mogo School P&C stated that parents are angry about the possibility of toxic fumes from the plant and the trucks.
The plant will process 200,000 tonnes of wood each year, or 548 tonnes per day.
The Environmental Impact Statement states that the plant will emit 108 tonnes of air emissions each year.
On 26 March 2002, the Charcoalition alerted the community about the possibility of mercury being released from the proposed charcoal plant at Mogo, and asked Planning NSW to investigate this issue. The Charcoalition was accused of scaremongering. Planning NSW state in their Assessment Report that there will be 6.85 grams of mercury produced by the charcoal plant each hour (57.540 kg per year). The department assessed that mercury emissions would ‘not pose a significant air quality impact’. Mercury is the second most toxic element in our world. The first being Plutonium. A safe level of mercury for humans has never been established!
What will the effect of all these emissions be on human health and the local wetlands and creeks?
Invisible gases will escape, including oxides of nitrogen and sulphur (which form acid rain), volatile organic compounds and particulates. Such pollutants could increase under adverse operating or weather conditions. It is claimed that if the wrong temperature regimes are used real nasties (dioxin) can be produced. Air inversions in winter may trap emissions between the mountains and the seaside villages. Winds will carry them further afield.
Odour from the plant is also an issue.
As well as emissions from the plant, additional emissions of greenhouse gases will occur from the logging operation and trucks.
“The draft Walcha-Nundle/Styx River EIS (SF 1995) gives the fuel consumption (expressed in diesel oil equivalent — doe) associated with obtaining timber from the forest as 4.08 L/m3 for “timber harvesting” and 120 L/km for “road maintenance”. Based on State Forests’ calculations, the “harvesting” of an extra 230,000 tonnes of timber (200,000 m3) from the forest would represent 816,000 L (816 kL) of d.o.e. Increases in road maintenance due to the transportation of increased wood volumes to sawmills for sawing into billets has not been assessed. Similarly, there has been no identification of the distances trucks will travel with timber to the mills, though with as many as 18,180 extra truck movements per annum over thousands of kilometres unaccounted for this is considered to represent a considerable volume of CO2 emissions.
“If, for example, the average distance travelled from the forest to the mill is 20 km, then 18,180 extra truck movements would represent 363,600 vehicle-kilometres – using URS’s CO2 emission factor of 0.866 kg CO2/veh-km this would in turn represent an annual increase in Greenhouse gas emissions of some 315 tonnes per annum. If the average distance travelled from the forest to the mills is 40 km then this figure would double to 630 tonnes per annum.
“The CO2 emission factors applied by URS (2000) are 2.89 t CO2/kL of distillate. Just the CO2 emissions resulting from the harvesting of the extra timber required for the Gunnedah charcoal plant would represent 2,358 tonnes of CO2 per annum. This is without accounting for increased CO2 emissions resulting from increased road maintenance and transport of timber to sawmills, which would significantly increase the greenhouse impact”(reference http://www.nefa.org.au/l_gunne_sub.html)