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    Coat of ArmsMedia Release
    Minister for Infrastructure and Planning
    The Honourable Stirling Hinchliffe

    Desal defects must be fixed

    Minister for Infrastructure and Planning
    The Honourable Stirling Hinchliffe

    Thursday, July 02, 2009

    Desal defects must be fixed

    Infrastructure Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said today the Government will not accept delivery of the Gold Coast Desalination Plant until all outstanding problems have been resolved.

    “In January, the Government commissioned an investigation into the plant’s quality and compliance with the project brief after a number of defects came to light during the plant’s commissioning,” the Minister said.

    “Those initial issues have been addressed, but a number of other problems were uncovered during the investigation which was conducted during a planned shutdown of the plant from 27 April to 5 June 2009.

    “Sections of the plant’s stainless steel piping needs to be replaced because of problems with the materials used.

    “It has already been agreed that the Alliance partners will replace this piping with higher quality stainless steel pipes within existing project budget at no extra cost to the taxpayer.

    “The important point is that the plant is operating safely with the current piping,” he said.

    “Issues with the plant’s concrete inlet works have also been identified and a solution to this problem is now being pursued.

    “Today, I will repeat what the Government has previously stated – we will not accept handover of this asset until all the issues have been dealt with.

    “We expect this plant to be fit to last for at least 50 years.

    “The problems will be resolved within the existing project budget at no extra cost to the taxpayer.

    Minister Hinchliffe said the Gold Coast plant has already supplied almost 4.5 billion litres of water to the Water Grid.

    “That’s enough potable water to supply 90,000 domestic customers – or a town the size of Toowoomba for a year,” he said.

    “The plant is now operating at 33% capacity and will be operating at 100% capacity this month, which is in accordance with the project’s timetable to bring the plant back into operation after the shutdown.

    “It is important to understand that the defects identified do not prevent the plant from operating at 100% capacity.

    “This is a complex piece of infrastructure, which is the first of its kind in Queensland and these start up issues will be rectified.”

    Resolved issues include the replacement of corroded pipe couplings with new flange fittings, agreement to replace corroded valves and replacement of defective bolts.

    Minister Hinchliffe said a plant shut down to allow the problems identified by the investigation to be fixed will occur at the end of the next wet season, when the need for desalinated water is at its lowest

    “Desalination plants operate in a hostile environment of highly corrosive seawater and very high pressures,” the Minister said.

    “Teething problems such as those experienced by the Gold Coast plant are not uncommon with desalination plants around the world.

    “But experience around the world shows these plants can overcome teething problems to operate successfully.

    “This plant is also well regarded by international desalination experts, so much so that it was recently named 2009 Membrane Desalination Plant of the Year by Global Water Intelligence.”

    Media contact: Minister’s Office 3224 8750