Southern Ports - Esperance record low dust

Southern Ports – Esperance general manager Alan Byers with Esperance environmental officer Caroline Aylott. Photo supplied.
Southern Ports – Esperance general manager Alan Byers with Esperance environmental officer Caroline Aylott. Photo supplied.

Southern Ports – Esperance has recorded its lowest ever dust exceedance as a result of new product handling technology and sealing port roads.

The port monitors for total suspended particulate dust for 24 hours every six days. These results showed only two exceedances which were predominantly attributed to non-prescribed activities such as grain handling and dust from traffic movements. Southern Ports – Esperance general manager Alan Byers said continuous monitoring for PM10 particles revealed no exceedances in acceptable dust levels. Dust from prescribed activities includes iron ore and bulk granular material.  Mr Byers said the port would continue to upgrade facilities and work with port users with a goal of achieving no exceedances.

“These results are particularly important as monitoring had been increased in the lead up to, and immediately after, loading of new shipments using rotating container technology,” Mr Byers said. Monitoring for dust is conducted both inside the port boundary and in the Esperance community. Dust exceedance levels are determined by a licence granted to the port by the Department of Environment and Water and are reported to the department within seven days.

“We increased our monitoring well above our normal requirements including using mobile monitoring stations and five stationary stations in the town. It is testament to our collaboration with our port users that dust has been kept to such low levels,” Mr Byers said. The technology was used for a copper and nickel shipment from Independent Group’s Nova project east of Fraser Range, the first time in some years the metals have been exported through Esperance.

“This is a fantastic result. We have implemented new technology including rotating containers which empty product inside the hold of the ships, and we also use misting machinery which reduces any potential dust spread. Particularly with these new shipments, we took our time and loaded the ships very steadily to ensure dust was absolutely controlled and these results are testament both to our ship loading technology and the careful monitoring of our environment team,” Mr Byers said.

Product handling was conducted under a stevedoring licence to QUBE.

“Trade has changed dramatically from what was a traditional agriculture base 15 years ago of fertiliser and fuel imports and grain exports to now being a major commodities exporter with iron ore making up a major export, plus growing areas like nickel, copper and spodumene,” Mr Byers said.

“There is increasing cost pressures being experienced by port users in relation to supply chains which makes service providers like Qube an attractive option.”

Mr Byers told staff in an internal memo last month that its current Enterprise Agreement was not competitive enough to win these stevedoring licenses. “We now face a reality at Southern Ports – Esperance that we do not physically have enough work to support the current stevedoring workforce under the terms and conditions of the current EA,” he said.