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    Media Statements

    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Main Roads and Local Government
    The Honourable Warren Pitt

    Tugun Bypass pollution claims false and misleading

    Minister for Main Roads and Local Government
    The Honourable Warren Pitt

    Thursday, January 31, 2008

    Tugun Bypass pollution claims false and misleading

    Newspaper reports claiming the Tugun Bypass project was an environmental time bomb, responsible for serious pollution and toxic run-off into the Cobaki Broadwater, were false and misleading in the extreme, Main Roads Minister Warren Pitt said today.

    "These claims are wildly inaccurate and grossly irresponsible," Mr Pitt said.

    "There is no toxic run-off, there never has been any toxic run-off, and there can be no toxic run-off, because the small and isolated areas of groundwater that have shown low pH levels are contained at depth.

    "In fact, tests from today of all of the outlets into the Cobaki Broadwater display pH levels of between 6.7 and 8.2 – well within the environmental guidelines established for the project.”

    Main Roads District Director Miles Vass said the PacificLink Alliance, which is constructing the bypass, had monitored groundwater continually since work started in April 2006.

    "As part of this monitoring, testing results have been submitted regularly to the relevant New South Wales environmental authorities – there is nothing to hide," Mr Vass said.

    Mr Vass said low pH levels in groundwater had been identified at two small and isolated areas immediately adjacent to the bypass's 334m tunnel.

    All of the project's other 23 permanent monitoring sites show pH levels within natural variation.

    "The low pH in these two localised and isolated areas was identified well below ground level and, as today's tests prove, has had no detrimental impact on the Cobaki Broadwater," Mr Vass said.

    "The Alliance took immediate corrective measures to elevate pH in the two areas, using processes it has had in place from the outset of the project."

    Mr Pitt said the corrective processes were put in place following lengthy discussions with Queensland, New South Wales and Commonwealth environment agencies.

    "The Tugun Bypass has some of the strictest environmental controls of any project ever undertaken by Main Roads," Mr Pitt said.

    "A small fine was recently imposed on the Alliance by the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change – but only after the Alliance quite correctly informed regulators about the low pH levels at the two isolated sites.

    "Instead of now facing these alarmist claims and scaremongering newspaper reports, the Alliance should be congratulated on its dedication to maintaining the highest level of environmental safeguards and standards on the project.

    "It's interesting to note that the bypass is being built in an area which, in the past, had a large sand-mining operation.

    "These mining operations had few of today's environmental controls but still managed to avoid the kind of "catastrophic impacts" scaremongers are attempting to attribute to the Tugun Bypass."

    Mr Pitt said he was disappointed some media outlets had promoted unsubstantiated claims in criticising a project that would deliver significant benefits for the Gold Coast and northern New South Wales.

    It is estimated the bypass will save $1.9 billion in reduced travel times and vehicle operating costs and $59 million in avoided accidents over 30 years, as well as reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 3.5 per cent by 2017.

    The $543 million Tugun Bypass is now expected to be completed in mid-2008, six months ahead of the original schedule.

    Media contact: Minister’s Office 3227 8819