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Tough conditions imposed on Gorgon LNG project

Posted: 12 December 2006

The Western Australian Government has effectively given the green light to the massive Gorgon gas project, after setting a raft of tough new environmental conditions.

Environment Minister Mark McGowan today announced that he had determined 11 appeals on the project after a three-point environmental protection plan was finalised this week.

Mr McGowan said the approval of the project with stringent conditions meant the environmental risks could be managed.

He said the protection plan involved:

*an additional $60million commitment by the Gorgon joint venturers to a series of new initiatives to conserve the flatback turtle population and protect other endangered species;

*a Government commitment to expand land and marine parks and reserves in the Pilbara and lower west Kimberley, to protect turtles and improve the management of the existing Montebello/Barrow Islands conservation reserves; and

*a series of stringent conditions on the project concerning dredging, quarantine, greenhouse gas reinjection, flatback turtle monitoring, short-range endemics and subterranean fauna.

The Minister said the Gorgon project would involve the biggest greenhouse gas reinjection process in the world, an important technology to introduce into WA.

“If we are to continue exporting clean energy to the world, then we need to come to terms with our domestic carbon dioxide emissions and greenhouse gas sequestration is at least part of the answer,” he said.

The Minister said Barrow Island was an A-class nature reserve, with significant environmental values due to the absence of introduced species.

“The Government has impressed upon the joint venturers - and they have agreed - that every step must be taken to reduce the likelihood of any non-native species getting a foothold on the island,” he said.

“They have also recognised the importance of investing $32.5million in a flatback turtle conservation program to ensure this species not only survives but their numbers increased.”

Mr McGowan said the new environmental conditions were in addition to an existing commitment by the joint venture partners to provide $40million to the State to deliver conservation projects to protect native plants and animals in environments similar to Barrow Island.

In June 2006, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) recommended that the project not proceed, based on its conclusion that environmental risks remained around the flatback turtle populations, dredging, introduction of non-indigenous species and subterranean and short-range invertebrate fauna.

The EPA also advised that the project would be environmentally unacceptable if it did not include a scheme designed to inject a high percentage of the reservoir carbon dioxide (CO2) back into the subsurface 2,000m below Barrow Island, or implement alternative measures to reduce the equivalent amount of reservoir CO2 vented to the atmosphere.

The Minister said the EPA had played an important role in identifying environmental risks, prompting the development of a more rigorous regime of environmental mitigation measures.

“I have come to the conclusion that, as a result of the additional environmental protection measures put in place, the project can proceed,” he said.



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