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    Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
    The Honourable Steven Miles

    EHP maintains close watch on Yabulu refinery

    Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
    The Honourable Steven Miles

    Saturday, March 12, 2016

    EHP maintains close watch on Yabulu refinery

    The State Government is continuing to closely monitor the Yabulu refinery to ensure the operators are complying with its strict environmental licence.

    Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles said enforcement orders served on Queensland Nickel Sales yesterday (Friday) demanded the company take action to ensure the environment was protected.

    Dr Miles stressed the orders were essentially an instruction to manage and operate the plant appropriately – not an instruction to stop work.

    “The Palaszczuk Government will do everything it can to ensure Queensland Nickel Sales complies with its environmental licence to operate,’’ Dr Miles said.

    “The environmental protection orders require actions to be taken to comply with the conditions of the Environmental Authority (EA) and to ensure essential environmental management systems on site continue to be operated.

    “The orders do not stop or prevent the operation of the refinery. To the contrary, the orders demand that appropriate actions be taken to comply with the EA and that essential environmental management infrastructure continues to be operated,’’ he said.

    EHP yesterday (Friday) morning transferred an EA permitting Queensland Nickel Sales to operate the Yabulu refinery, north of Townsville, and a few hours later served enforcement orders demanding the company take action to ensure the environment was protected.

    The action was taken after the new licenced operator, Queensland Nickel Sales Pty Ltd, failed to demonstrate to EHP, the state’s environmental regulator, that it had adequate resources – including staff – to operate the facility in a way that complied with its environmental authority.

    The refinery is close to Halifax Bay, which is part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and World Heritage Area.

    Dr Miles said one priority was ensuring the refinery’s tailings dams and pumping equipment were appropriately managed.

    He said EHP officers had inspected the refinery and the department was “currently satisfied that the company is maintaining essential environmental controls’.

    “EHP officers have had conversations with the company, and they are aware of the requirements,’’ Dr Miles said, adding there were serious consequences, including the possibility of criminal charges being laid, for failing to comply with these directives.

    ENDS

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