Monday 23 June 2008
Environmental and pollution control
Gunn’s Lindsay Street smoke emissions

Mr FINCH - Just while we are on the subject of air quality, there has been some publicity recently about rectification of an issue in the Tamar Valley with Gunn's establishment at Lindsay Street where there is a smokestack.  I am curious about the number of complaints that it has taken for us to get to this stage.  I mean complaints about the amount of smoke.

Ms O'BYRNE - There have been three reported incidents in the last four months.

Mr FINCH - Just complaints by the general public in respect of contacting environment department with a suggestion that this smoke might be harmful to the residents of Launceston and to the environment.

Mr JONES - We had zero complaints in 2006, zero in 2007 and - if I am reading my bar chart correctly - we have had five complaints this year.  There were some other numbers in 2003 and 2004 when the new boiler was commissioned.

Mr FINCH - Only small numbers.

Mr JONES - As I said, no complaints for two years, and five this year, which were related to the incidents that the minister outlined.  We have had two principal incidents that have generated the complaints.  I think probably four of those would have come in February where there was a particularly bad weekend when the smokestack was visibly emitting smoke for probably about a day, I think, which started on Saturday and went into a Sunday.  Then there was another incident in March, which we had one complaint about.  Again, there were some pictures of smoke being emitted, but the pictures we received were only over a fairly short period - about a minute or so.  The complainant said there was a little bit of smoke for a longer period, but the main really bad look was just for that very short time.

What we have done, I guess as a result of that, is, firstly, find out why these problems were occurring, why they were occurring on weekends, and that basically boiled down to the way that Gunn's feed the boiler with shavings and material from their planning room, which is operative during the week but does not operate at weekends.  There is no fresh material coming on to that pile at weekends.  What they found was in these particular incidents, the feed system had received some clumps of material because there was not fresh stuff coming in and that caused more material to go into the boiler than should have.  The first thing was to find out what the problem was and rectify that, which Gunn's have undertaken to do.  They have someone manually disturbing the feed pile over the weekend.

More importantly, we have also asked them or, in fact, required them - I issued a notice requiring them - to put in a new bag house filter.  They had a bag house filter there for a time, but it did not get down to the levels that we all expected it to.  It turns out that the bag house was undersized for the size of the boiler.  So I have issued them a notice requiring them to put in another bag house by 30 September and also put in continuous monitoring equipment which should provide them with quicker and more effective feedback in terms of when and if a problem arises