The Barnett government is refusing to release details of a ruptured pipeline at BHP Billiton’s Nickel West Refinery in Kwinana, six years after it poisoned 14 trees, according to Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren.
On June 18, 2008, the pipe burst releasing ammonium sulphate and other trace elements killing the trees along the pipeline near the corner of the old Mandurah Road and Gilmore Avenue.
The leak saw a Department of Environment and Conservation – now the Department of Environment Regulation investigation.
Ms MacLaren is demanding the WA government release the DER groundwater report into the incident after it was revealed in parliament recently the pipeline spillage went undetected for 24 hours.
Environment minister Albert Jacob said a technician didn’t respond to the Baldivis Leak Detection System Alarm because he believed it was a false alarm.
“Findings from a then Department of Environment and Conservation investigation indicated that at the time of the refinery shut down, the Baldivis Leak Detection System alarm notification was exposed to a higher than normal number of triggered alarms in general, some of which were false alarms,” he said.
Mr Jacob’s said he’s not required to release the report under Ministerial Statement 377.
Ms MacLaren said the environmental minister’s refusal to hand over the report suggested it may contain some worrying results.
“The public have the right to know the impacts of ground water in the affected region,” she told Fairfax Media. “The death of the 14 trees is one of the more visible outcomes; I suspect the impacts that are out of sight are just as concerning and ongoing.”
Ms MacLaren said if the Barnett government wasn’t going to release the report it should at least fess up and explain why the technician ignored the alarm.
“This is a human error that has had potentially dangerous impacts, such errors should not be occurring when it comes to contaminated industrial water spiling through leaky pipes into the environment,” she said. “We must ensure that our environmental regulators are doing their job to protect our environment and enforce environmental protection laws.”
Barry Nelson, from the now defunct Kwinana Progress Association, said he’s been trying to get to the bottom of the leak for the last six years.
“It’s been really poorly handed by the government and at the time an asbestos pipe was dug up and left on the ground,” he said.
“It’s criminal and someone should be held accountable.” Follow WAtoday on Twitter
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