Page 1

PANDANUS protecting nature

living sustainably

creating a climate for change

April 2012

Seabed Mining

A win for the environment

Limmen Area Protected

A new National Park and Marine Park

Dirty Gas Time to Shine Nuclear Free Japan Carbon Offsets Weeds of Northern Australia

M Maemb at rch ers ww 3 hip w. 1st. s d ec Re ue nt. ne or w g

IN THIS ISSUE The Global Impacts of our Uranium Future

From the Convenor From the Director



Time to Shine


PANDANUS Calotropis gigantea Giant rubber bush

Calotropis procera



Rubber bush



C. gigantea

Uniting in Fukushima

le family) APOCYNACEAE (periwink 3-5m tall (or small trees) Description: Shrubs and milky sap. Stems are ce with a waxy appearan , green-grey, n. Leaves opposite smooth, grey-gree often stemwith heart-shaped, splitting thick and waxy, green, bladder like, clasping bases. Pods med seeds. the two, to release white-plu of larger and coarser • C. gigantea is the petals. with mauve-pink flowers are larger purple are white with • C. procera flowers

Limmen National Park & Marine Park Proposed




Our New Weeds Field Guide





blotches at tip.


year round Flowers/Fruits: All


roadsides, disturbed Thrives Habitat: Found on and coastal dunes.

flats ing has water courses, river rly where overgraz on poor soils particula on from native grasses. removed competiti and water spread by wind in Dispersal: Seeds . Local stands increase an over large distances spread as . C. gigantea also size by suckering ornamental plant. Land pulling, grubbing); Control: Physical (handreduce grazing intensity, ent (hygiene, Managem Chemical C. gigantea revegetation); control feral animals, cut stump). bark, C. gigantea (foliar spray, basal India and is native to Sri Lanka, Notes: C. gigantea C. procera is common in Timor. d into Asia and is very Asia and was introduce native to Africa and either as in the early 1890s Australia from India camels. It in pack-saddles of native a garden plant or which compete with thickets dense forms appearance transforms the plant species and pastoralism by hinders Also of the savanna. mustering lands and making degrading pasture however to be toxic to stock, tropical difficult. Reported in semi-arid and it is sometimes grazed drought. in the arid areas, even areas but rarely in

Environment Centre

Nicholas Smith



Dirty Gas not so Clean & Green


Northern Marine Campaigner: Jess Abrahams E T 08 89417461 W Magazine designed by Hannah Seward at Greenkey E:

Printed on FSC certified paper from sustainable sources using vegetable inks. Cert no. L2/0031.2012

Letters to the Editor


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Australian Marine Conservation Society


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Seabed Mining Marine win


The Interview... with Alan Langworthy

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Nicholas Smith


Be sure to get hold of your copy of the new WEEDS of NORTHERN AUSTRALIA: A FIELD GUIDE by Nicholas Smith and published by the Environment Centre NT.

INPEX: A Litmus Test of Environmental Law

The Environment Centre NT has a brand new website (, full of the latest environment news, resources, green living tips, and ways you can create a sustainable future for the Territory. The site contains information on our five Campaigns and Programs: Nature Territory, Safe Climate, Nuclear Free NT, Green Living and Living Harbour.

You can also donate to a campaign or program you are passionate about, and soon you will be able to take action online through our cyber-actions. Our submissions and reports are available to download, and you can watch our YouTube clips too. So why not bookmark our website and keep up to date with what the staff and volunteers are doing at the Environment Centre NT.

Cover images: Maria Island, Limmen Bight by David Hancock. Lesley Alford, Hannah Seward & Nicholas Smith with our new Weeds Field Guide by Stuart Blanch. Solar PV panels and solar hot water on a Darwin roof by Di Koser.


From the Convenor Welcome all the to new year, which promises to be a particularly busy one for the Environment Centre. With the final go ahead for INPEX now granted, the Environment Centre NT will be keeping up the pressure on both the government and INPEX to lessen its impact on our harbour and foreshore. We need your help in this, and encourage you, our members and supporters to raise questions about the project whenever possible by letters, phone calls and face to face enquiries.

By Di Koser

Recent events such as the train derailment and subsequent spill of copper concentrate and uranium into the Edith River demonstrate the need for us to continue to highlight the fact that so many developments in the Territory do not seem to be adequately monitored in order to protect the land and water environments we all share. Our staff will continue to closely scrutinise and question all projects which they don’t believe are in the best interest of our Territory environment. We began this year by taking delivery of our new edition

From the Director Welcome to the first edition of PANDANUS in 2012. It’s been another busy few months for our staff and volunteers. Edith River pollution Six-and-a-half years after Territory Labor committed to manage the Daly River as a Living River, an election promise yet to be fully implemented, the train derailment and mine discharge into the Edith River, a tributary of the Daly, shone a light on risky practices by industry and regulators and disregard for our precious environment. Copper concentrate spilled in to the river on 27 December last year when railway operator Genesee & Wyoming allowed a train carrying 1500 tons of the dangerous and hazardous substance to drive into the flooded river. Dumb and negligent, I agree - fortunately no one died. The company didn’t bother to use the alarm service provided by the NT Natural Resources Department that would have told them the river was high and still rising fast, this would have told them to stop the train, and downplayed the threat of flash flooding despite heavy downpours in the

I also want to plug a series being shown on SBS TV on Saturdays at 5.30, called Hot Cities. It looks at the impacts of Climate Change in different parts of the world, highlighting problems but importantly showing how people are changing their behaviour in small and large ways. Topics covered include population, rising seas, and water use. Inspiring!

by Stuart Blanch

catchment from ex-Cyclone Grant. The NT Roads Department used this alarm service, which uses river level data from a few kilometres upstream of the bridge, and closed the Stuart Highway. The company wanted to save money by getting the concentrate across river to Darwin before tougher transport requirements meant it had to pay to return it to South Australia and reload it into sealed containers. All this from a company valued at $2.65 billion. But blame also rests with NT WorkSafe which handed miner OZ Minerals a one-year reprieve on upgrading from transporting the concentrate under tarpaulins to sealed containers, as required by new stronger safeguards under the federal dangerous goods law. The Environment Centre NT understands the NT Environment Department waived the need for an environmental assessment on transporting the concentrate on the condition it was moved in sealed containers. NT WorkSafe appears to have ignored this recommendation from the competent environment regulator, instead following the lead of its South Australian counterpart–


of WEEDS of N O R T H E R N AUSTRALIA: A FIELD GUIDE by Di Koser on the Enviro nment Centr Nicholas Smith, NT visit to the INPEX site at Blaydin Poi and it is selling very well, giving a lovely boost to our funds.

which does not have to deal with tropical rivers and monsoon downpours–and granted the exemption. Further upstream, Mt Todd gold mine spilled water from a retention pond into the Edith River. Miner Vista Gold was unprepared for the very heavy rainfall. Elevated levels of heavy metals were detected by the NT Environment Department downstream of the mine and train derailment, making it difficult to disentangle which was the cause. Cadmium, copper and aluminium levels exceeded national environmental trigger levels. Vista plans to reopen the old and polluting mine and dramatically increase the amount of tailings dam water contaminated with heavy metals. Would a re-opened mine fare better if such a heavy downpour struck again? The mine wants to double the height of the tailings dam to store even more contaminated water, plus build another tailings dam, create a mountain of waste rock at least five times the height of the existing one, and quadruple the depth of the mine pit. In its desire to offload the liability

for rehabilitating the infamous mine, estimated at $120 million on to a mine, the Territory Government risks approving a much bigger mine with much bigger pollution risks that could cause even more pollution in the future. Vista Gold has never operated a mine, and as a company has no experience mining in the tropics in Australia. Our staff will continue to meet with the mine and Resources Department as the environmental impact statement is prepared to ensure that the very highest standards are adopted.

Carbon pollution to soar from dirty INPEX project The INPEX Ichthys fossil fuel project will be built over the next five years, and lead to a large spike in the Territory’s carbon pollution for decades. You may have missed some of the more sobering aspects to the project during the hype over the announcement in early January, but our harbour and climate will face even more pressures due to weak conditions placed upon the project by Territory and Australian regulators. On page 9 we take a look at why INPEX’s ‘clean gas’ is in fact quite dirty, and suggest ways the Territory can do its part to rapidly cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Following the nuclear trail from Kakadu to Fukushima Our Nuclear Free NT team visited Japan in January to take part in a major conference on a nuclear free world and to visit Fukushima, the site of the nuclear reactor meltdown last March. Our team met with people who are nuclear refugees, no longer allowed to live at home because of radioactive contamination of their homes, farms and schools. Australian uranium was and remains in the reactors that went into meltdown, with uranium from Ranger Uranium Mine inside Kakadu National Park likely to have been involved. Read Cat Beaton’s report on page 13.

Two Indigenous environmental honoured

Territorian champions

Amid news of pollution of the Edith River and of the atmosphere by INPEX came official recognition of the role of two inspiring Indigenous people in protecting the environment. Senior Yolngu elder Laurie Baymarrwangga was named Senior Australian of the Year 2012 for her role in protecting the Crocodile Islands off the Arnhem Land coast and passing on ecological knowledge, and Djok man Jeffrey Lee was honored as a Member of the Order of Australia for protecting his traditional lands from uranium mining at Koongarra in Kakadu National Park.

New law almost here to control land clearing

2011 showed around one million hectares of native vegetation is still cleared around Australia each year. Yet clearing is known to kill wildlife, fragment landscapes, release greenhouse gases when the trees are burnt, and reduce the resilience of our continent to withstand climate change.

Cash for Containers The Territory Government’s Cash for Containers scheme deserves strong community support. Territorians are being paid to pick up bottles, cans and beverage cartons and take them to recycling depots for their 10c refund. The recent closures of some depots reflects the opposition of vested interests, such as Coca Cola Amatil, and should strengthen the Territory Government’s resolve to iron out any problems and to stand up to such companies.

After a decade of hard work by the Environment Centre NT and partners to stop major land clearing in the Territory, we are frustratingly close to seeing the Native Vegetation Management Act legislated. But the Territory Government has again failed to introduce the Bill into the Legislative Assembly and introduce it in the March sittings potentially for a vote in the May sittings.

Thank you to the Mullum Trust and the Purves Environmental Fund for their support

This means there is only a very narrow window now to have the Bill passed into law before the August elections. Territory Labor now needs to focus on negotiating a deal with Independent Gerry Wood to pass the law.

The Environment Centre NT relies on the support of donors. We thank the Purves Environmental Fund and Mullum Trust for generously supporting our fundraising officer.

It is a crucial Bill that streamlines the regulation of land clearing on pastoral and freehold lands in the Territory, and comes over 12 years after similar laws were passed in NSW and Queensland, and two decades since South Australia passed land clearing legislation. Environment organisations consider the law a top priority and, thanks to the support of our members and partners, have strengthened our community and media campaigns in recent months. Quite simply, it’s time the Territory passed this law. The recent national State of the Environment Report 3

Happy reading.

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Safe Climate

Time to shine

By Stuart Blanch, Director

Images to right: LNG tank and LNG plant, Darwin by Hannah Seward

The Territory is a global hotspot for solar resource, but only 0.6% of our electricity comes from renewable energy. As climate change impacts worsen around the globe, the Territory should accept its responsibility as part of a developed nation to rapidly cut greenhouse gas emissions and decouple our economy from fossil fuels such as gas and diesel. A report produced for the Territory Government by the Green Energy Taskforce in late 2011 sets out key steps to achieve the federally legislated target of generating 20% of power using renewable energy by 2020. Some of the key findings are explained below. Benefits of keepin’ it local Power and Water Corporation will need to pay between $12 million and $21 million each year by 2020 to meet its legal obligations under the federal Renewable Energy Target scheme. The energy utility could invest those funds here in the Territory to help stimulate the construction of large scale solar power plants, or pay the funds to energy companies in other states which would mean the Territory economy would miss out. Evening up the playing field There is currently ample gas and enough gas fired generators in the Darwin-to-Katherine grid to meet all projected future demand in 2020 without using any more renewable energy, so renewables need a leg-up to compete. Commercial investment in renewable energy power plants in the Territory would be enhanced by financial support from the new

Solar Tower, Spain - Google images

The title of the Taskforce’s second report is: An evaluation of the relative merits, feasibility, and likely costs of the potentially available renewable energy technologies to be used in the NT, including geo-thermal, solar, biomass and tidal. and is available for download on the NT Government website. Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Australian Renewable Energy Agency established by the Australian Government, reforming the powers of the NT Utilities Commission to drive greater investment in renewables. Using regulatory levers would ensure new mines invest in renewable energy locally, and focus research and development to establish the Territory as a centre of excellence in renewable energy in tropical and arid regions.

The usual suspects Solar photovoltaic (PV) and to a lesser extent, solar thermal, are the most likely types of renewable energy to be able to compete on cost with gas fired energy by 2020. Yet solar thermal power has the fundamental advantage of providing baseload power 24/7 when coupled with thermal storage, such as molten salt, as demonstrated in power plants currently operating in Spain (and the US).

Getting serious Generating 20% of our power from renewables would require about 200 megawatts (MW) of power plant, almost the size of the existing Channel Island power station. This would generate about 300 gigawatt hours (GWh) of power. Currently the Territory has a mere 8.2 MW of installed renewable energy capacity that generates just 21.5 GWh.

Construction of a network of solar PV and solar thermal power plants, totaling around 200 MW, in the Katherine to Pine Creek region was considered a feasible and sensible solution to meeting the 20% target from Territory sources, given the power could be fed into the Darwinto-Katherine grid.

If large scale renewable energy plants are not being built without government support in the next few years, the Territory Government will need to start directly supporting them by 2015 to be able to achieve the 20% target by 2020 from solar plants in the Territory. Support could be in various forms, such as loan guarantees, block grants or tariff support. 4

There is relatively little reliable wind resource in the Territory, except on the Barkly and Arnhem Land coastline. Geothermal power is unproven but holds vast potential in the decades ahead given our predicted enormous geothermal resources. Tidal power also presents enormous opportunities in the medium to long term. The author was a member of the Green Energy Taskforce.

Nature Territory

Limmen National Park finally to be protected By Stuart Blanch, Director On 16 March the Environment Centre NT and the Australian Marine Conservation Society warmly welcomed the Territory Government’s announcement of the creation of Limmen National Park and Limmen Bight Marine Park in the Gulf Country.

Thanks to the generosity of our members and support from partners, particularly the Pew Environment Group, we sent a team last June to Limmen Bight to meet with Marra people at their invitation to tell them what we had heard about plans to bury a pipeline through their lands and seas and out to Maria Island for processing iron ore for export.

It’s not every day you get a new National Park and a Marine Park covering a million hectares. It’s a very big deal and has been a long time coming.

We worked with the Li-Anthawirriyarra Sea Rangers from Borroloola to talk about the risks to Marra Country, and help media see the area. The Marra said they opposed the plan. So we supported them to prepare petitions for tabling in the Territory and Australian Parliaments, and when they visited Darwin to make their case to Cabinet Ministers and in the media.

Thanks to the support of our members and partners, the Environment Centre NT had been able to call on the Territory Government over the past two years to formally declare Limmen National Park, and protect high conservation values area of the region from damaging mining export infrastructure. Parks & Wildlife Minister Karl Hampton and the Environment Department deserve congratulations for bringing greater certainty to the future of the wildlife and globally significant habitats of the Limmen region, including Maria Island.

Mining companies Western Desert Resources and Sherwin Iron, and the Territory Government, listened. We welcome this. The miners dropped their pipeline plans last November and the Territory Government ramped up action on declaring the park and protecting Maria Island. The park and marine park are due for declaration in July, and we urge you to support the declarations. 5

It’s not every day you get a new National Park and a Marine Park covering a million hectares. It’s a very big deal and has been a long time coming. The protected areas must become a cornerstone of efforts across the Top End to protect and restore ecological connectivity on land and sea, and conserve our amazing wildlife. The park needs more funding and Rangers, plus better infrastructure. Indigenous communities living around the two parks need to be involved in governance and employed as Indigenous Rangers to manage fire, weeds and ferals. The region should be assessed to see if it meets National Heritage listing criteria. The massive excisions from the long-proposed Limmen National Park total over two hundred thousand hectares were very disappointing and unnecessary. Cabinet was excessively generous towards the miners, as most of the area excised from the park is not prospective. So with your ongoing support we will work ensure most of these areas are added back into the park.







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Note: "white buffer" between the Limmen Bight Marine Park and the coastline represents the inter-tidal zone between mean high water and mean low wate which is either granted or recommended for granting under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (ALRA)



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4WD Track



Picnic Area

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Prepared 14/3/2012

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Edward Island Wilipili Island


Aboriginal Traditional Owners of these waters should also be involved in jointly managing the park, if that is their wish, as they have a unique role to play in caring for sea country. Limmen Bight’s extensive sea grass meadows are home to an internationally significant population of dugongs. They provide a nursery for young prawns and habitat for rare seahorses and pipefish. Limmen’s sandy beaches provide nesting sites for flatback turtles and the region’s wetlands and intertidal mudflats are an internationally important site for migratory shorebirds. Limmen’s waters are a

The new park represents a significant breakthrough in the northern marine campaign, however more marine parks are needed in key areas such as Bynoe Harbour and along the Arnhem coast, if the NT is to establish its long promised world-class network of marine protected areas. This encouraging announcement also paves the way for the Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to create a greater Limmen marine reserve in adjoining Commonwealth waters, through the current Marine Bioregional Planning process.



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MUNBILILLA (Tomato Island)

Maria Island

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Beatrice Island (Ymunguni)

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Science has shown marine life is best safeguarded in highly protected marine reserves. We will therefore work to ensure critical feeding and breeding areas in the park are effectively safeguarded in ‘sanctuary’ zones.


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The Limmen Bight Marine Park, the Territory’s second only marine protected area, will extend south along the Limmen coast from the mouth of the Roper River. It will also encircle Maria Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Zoning within the park will only be developed following declaration of the park in July 2012.

haven for fish, with more than one hundred different species recorded, including the threatened freshwater sawfish. Protecting this biodiversity hotspot is a fantastic win for marine conservation in the NT, and follows hot on the heels of the announcement only a week earlier of a three-year moratorium on seabed mining in NT waters. Hooray!

Port Roper


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Following a decade of advocacy by a dedicated string of Northern Marine Campaigners, the NT Labor government has announced its firstever marine reserve; an 88,000ha marine park to safeguard the shallow rich waters of Limmen Bight.


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By Jess Abrahams, Northern Marine Campaigner

Yilikukunyiyanga Islet

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Marine campaign has ‘Bight’

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Image top: Maria Island, Limmen Bight by David Hancock. Above: Map of the the proposed Limmen National Park & Marine Park. Source: Northern Territory Government BEETALOO STATION


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McArthur River

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Cape Crawford

ACT NOW! A 60-day public consultation process for the new Limmen parks has already begun. This is our chance to congratulate the NT government, as well as emphasise the need for:

LAND: Un-prospective exploration areas to be returned to the National park as soon as possible SEA: Science-based sanctuary zones to protect critical habitats in the marine park Please





to: or call (08) 8951 8105 before the

18th May deadline and have your say!

Living Harbour

INPEX a litmus test of environment laws By Stuart Blanch

The recent approval by the Territory Government of the INPEX fossil fuel project gives an insight into how well our laws handle the inevitable environmental downsides of big heavy industry. The result for the Territory’s largest and most polluting project was a very mixed bag, with major gaps and flaws surfacing that undermined Territorians confidence in the strength of the laws and their application to large projects that had already clearly been given de facto approval by government. We’ve analysed the environmental assessment and development approval process and identified eight key lessons. The first step towards the approval of such a big development is the environmental impact assessment process. This is a process that allows government to publicly examine the development in detail, particularly the benefits for society; the likely social, cultural and environmental impacts resulting from both the construction and operation of a development; and whether the safeguards and management measures to reduce the effect of these impacts will work and are considered reasonable.

first point

This is the – the environmental assessment process allows government to examine a project as a whole – how well this

translates into subsequent approvals which deal with just a component of a project (as there is no overarching approval) will be examined later. An Environmental Assessment Report (EAR) for INPEX was prepared and released by the NT Minister for the Environment in May 2011. This report provided the findings of government’s examination of the project and gave a public judgement on whether Government thinks the likely impacts of the project are acceptable, in light of its benefits. Many were not surprised that the report did find the project to be acceptable, it was easy to be suspicious when the Chief Minister had been singing the praises of this development since its inception… However, compare the EAR with a similar document prepared by the Queensland Government for the Gladstone LNG proposal and you will see it is comprehensive and does not skirt around issues, although many key recommendations are weak. You will also see that the Queensland report concluded with conditions (67 of them plus 11 schedules of standard conditions) whereas the NT EAR concluded with 24 recommendations.

second point

- the This is the NT EAR does not have authority, only advice. The NT EIA process is reliant upon other legislation to bring into effect its recommendations. 7

third point

This is the responsibility for environment protection is placed onto legislation which does not have the jurisdiction and/or objective to manage environmental impacts. Exploring the third point further, let’s look at how the Planning Act has fared; For the INPEX proposal to proceed consent is required under the Planning Act for both the development of the processing plant and for some of the dredging. Consent has now been issued for both. The Planning Act states that the consent authority (in this case the Planning Minister) must take into consideration the EIS and the assessment of the EIS (“consider” not “give effect to”), further evidence that the EIA process has no authority. The permit issued by the Minister for the processing plant clearly states “Conditions of the development permit give effect to the recommendations of the EAR as they relate to this LNG gas processing plant.” Sounds promising… but sadly it is not quite true. For example: The EAR tells us that the project will be the largest single industrial emitter of greenhouse gases in the Northern Territory and also resulting in a significant increase in Australian greenhouse gas emissions, and yet the permit is silent on this issue. (Noting the EAR also failed to meet best practice standards, as required in the EIS guidelines, stating only

that INPEX must ‘prominently feature commitments to GHG offsets’ in a Greenhouse Gas Management Plan that has not been finished. The Territory Government’s policy is to avoid any mandatory carbon offsets and instead leave it to a federal Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), but knowing that the ETS faces a very uncertain future politically and that it gives INPEX an estimated 47% of its carbon pollution permits for free.) The EAR recommends the preparation of a Social Impact Management Plan (SIMP), however, while the permit requires the preparation of a SIMP, it is flexible about when it is to be prepared – it could happen after the plant is constructed and commenced operating! The permit for dredging is no better; excluding quite important recommendations included in the EAR from conditions on the permit (such as the recommendation for an expert panel to be formed to provide objective and expert support when management plans and monitoring programs for dredging and dredge spoil disposal are being developed).

Fourth Point

– Despite Government promises or commitments the planning permits have not brought into effect the relevant findings of the Environmental Assessment Report. I wonder, did the consent authority read the EAR to consider its findings before issuing the dredging permit? The EAR speaks of uncertainty and concern about impacts to the Harbour when it comes to dredging operations (due to a lack of supporting information) however the permit document does not require, through conditions, the information recommended by the EAR (refer recommendations 3 and 4). The permit does draw from the EAR by requiring the preparation of a Dredging and Dredge Spoil Management Plan stating this “will mitigate impacts of dredging…” even though the Management Plan has not been written and was not included with the development application. The Planning Minister had no evidence from which to draw this conclusion –

what happens if he is wrong?

Fifth point

– the Planning Minister effectively decided to defer consideration of matters central to his decision until after the decision has been made. Concerned about the conditions of the planning permits? Sadly, there is not much you can do about it. Neither of the permits issued for INPEX allow for a community organisation or individual to appeal the merits, or details, of the decision. You could if we lived in some other states, but not in the Territory. This means that for such a large and potentially impacting development the public are unable to require Government’s decision to be legally scrutinized. Only INPEX, neither yourself or I can challenge.

Sixth Point –

the Planning Act does not reflect contemporary practice. How have the planning permits dealt with the construction of the modular offloading facility and jetty? Or the remaining areas to be dredged (that for some reason fall outside the issued permit)? They haven’t. Perhaps this is where the Waste Management and Pollution Control Act steps in. Or perhaps the Water Act? Or even the Energy Pipelines Act? The EAR tells us that the most appropriate legislative process for undertaking some of

the construction activities in the near shore environment, including dredging, dredge spoil disposal, and blasting, is still being determined.

Point seven – some elements of this potentially impacting development may fall outside current approval processes. If this is the case, how are those bits of the development to be regulated?

Which approval, licence, authorisation or permit will have the jurisdiction to manage long-term cumulative impacts associated with the dredging, construction and pile driving of the modular off loading facility and jetty, boating and shipping movements and the potential blasting? (Not to mention the dredging associated with the East Arm Wharf expansion…)

Point eight - the Environmental Assessment Report allows the project to be assessed as a whole, the subsequent approvals do not. Each approval has jurisdiction over an element of the project – in this circumstance how are recommendations associated with cumulative impacts to be given teeth? It doesn’t really provide a picture of sophistication, does it?

Above left: The site of the INPEX LNG processing plant at Blaydin Point, Darwin Harbour. Extracted from the INPEX Supplement to the Environmental Impact Statement Above: Bottlenose dolphin in Darwin Harbour. Kindly donated.


Safe Climate

Dirty Gas not so Clean and Green By Stuart Blanch, Director Have you ever wondered how people convince themselves of something they know is not true? How a simple phrase, a few nice sounding and ambiguous words, can be so repeated as to become accepted as fact? For example, have you heard the one that INPEX is “clean and green”? Or that the Territory is better than those coal addicts down south because we are selling clean gas to Asia, where it will be used instead of dirty coal and oil? And we are saving the climate with INPEX gas because it will cut global carbon pollution, so we should magnanimously accept the big hike in carbon pollution it will create here at home? The truth is not so palatable, nor convenient. The Territory and Australian Governments, in curious

agreement with INPEX, omit to add to their frequent “clean and green” claims that INPEX’s gas is very dirty by Australian and world standards for gas; that there is no guarantee that INPEX gas will shift Asian energy generation away from coal or oil use, and that gas is already displacing renewable energy sources? INPEX admits in its environmental impact statement that it’s gas is much more polluting than most gas fields in the world today. It’s Brewster and Plover gas fields contain respectively 8 and 17% of carbon polluting gases, whereas most gas projects in Qatar, Karratha, the Atlantic and Nigeria contain less than 3%. The company also admits its offshore gas extraction process is highly energy intensive, ditto pumping the gas nearly 900km to Darwin.

Clean gas? Computer says no. But surely this could be excused if INPEX gas meant Japan stopped building new dirtier coal fired power stations? Alas, INPEX does not guarantee its gas will displace oil or coal. The Federal Environment Minister stated in his approval of the project that INPEX provided no guarantee that an existing coal fired power plant would be decommissioned because energy utilities would switch to using its gas instead. Similarly, the NT Environment Department’s assessment report stated it could happen, but “There is no guarantee, however, that this will be the case.” Gas displacing coal? Maybe they have their fingers crossed?

Solar Thermal Plant in Spain supplied by Beyond Zero Emissions


Looking broadly, the Territory should not slack off from cutting carbon pollution. I don’t accept the view that the Territory should greatly increase its carbon pollution to ‘catch up’ with states down south that developed using coal.

Repeating the same dumb mistakes as your older siblings is not wise when there are smarter alternatives. INPEX is getting over half its permits for free under the emissions trading scheme. That means it only has to buy offsets for around 3.5 million tons of pollution a year. You may have heard about its social package it volunteered last year, including $37 million over 20 years for fire abatement projects by Aboriginal land managers that would reduce net carbon pollution. Sound generous? It is not. The offset is a paltry couple of percent based on INPEX’s own figures, and certainly not the 16.5% the federal Environment Minister and his department somehow cooked up.

Savanna fire which releases large amounts of carbon by Julian Murphy

The Territory should cut carbon pollution levels to under 10 million tons per year by 2020. This is how much pollution we created in 1990, the base year for measuring action on cutting carbon pollution around the world. The world’s climate scientists say global carbon pollution must be cut by at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2020 if we are to avoid really dangerous climate change.

the ETS of 3.5 million tons here in the Territory, plus an additional 1.5 million tons to raise the total to the full 5 million tons. This would inject around an additional $125 million into the Territory economy each year, assuming an average carbon price of $25 per ton. For a $34 billion project by two of the world’s biggest and richest fossil fuel companies, this is very affordable.

Offset funds could also drive better energy efficiency in homes, offices and industry.

Are we cutting our pollution levels by 40%? No. Pollution is on track to actually more than double. In 2009, the Territory created 17.3 million tons of carbon emissions, but the INPEX fossil fuel project will increase this level to almost 21 million tons in 2016. The good news is we can cut pollution to under 10 million tons by decade’s end. The Territory Government could require INPEX to offset all its pollution that will be released at Blaydin Point – all 5 million tons each year when it gives them a pollution permit in a few years time. INPEX could buy all the offsets to cover their liability under

Much of this would spread to rural and remote areas that will miss out on the economic stimulus around Darwin, and where many of the carbon offset opportunities exist. It is also where poor Indigenous communities and struggling pastoralists could benefit from extra income and a more diversified economy.

The twenty first century is a time, and must be a time, for forging new agendas that creates jobs and strong futures for the world’s poor whilst divorcing our economies from fossil fuels.

And INPEX could subsidise the construction of large-scale solar power plants for the Territory that would allow us to slowly turn off the gas turbines at Channel Island and Weddell and go solar.

Blaydin Point by Pamela Mills


Building on the Territory Government’s climate change policy goal of storing an additional 4 million tonnes of carbon in trees and soil, it could mandate substantial offsets from other developers, taking pollution down to under 10 million tons p.a.

Territorians deserve better than a lazy ‘me too’ approach to mimicking the high polluting Northwest Shelf, or Aberdeen, or Houston. Reality, not spin, should guide us to a truly clean future. First printed in the NT News, 20 January 2012.

Safe Climate

An interview with... Powerco By Hannah Seward, Editor & Communications Officer

Welcome to The Interview.

We bring you environmental answers, news and views from key people in our community.

night of the week. There was a huge interest from all ages in renewable energy, passive solar architecture, permaculture and sustainable living.” HS: So your future path was created. How did you end up running Powercorp? AL: “At this point, having seen the potential in sustainable living through community structures, I joined the National Energy Office in Canberra rising to head the Energy Technology Branch in the Department of National Development. During that time we implemented the first international agreement on solar energy between India and Australia.

This issue PANDANUS spent an inspiring hour with Alan Langworthy, the founder of Darwin based Powercorp. This exciting renewable energy company has just been acquired by global sustainable power giant ABB, and sees Alan at the forefront of this new acquisition as their Global Business Renewable Integration Manager. HS: How did you start out on the renewable energy road? AL: “My background is in geology, physics and maths. In 1973 I was living in a property in Canberra with no power, none of the local houses had power. During the 1960s it was all about the boom time; big chrome vehicles, the NASA space race and being promised that the grass was always going to be green with unlimited nuclear power. But then we experienced the world oil crisis and the Vietnam War, this fostered the start of the anti-establishment movement and created a healthy disrespect for authority. People started to think about how they could become more self-sufficient. It was at this time that an architect friend and I set up a series of renewable energy lectures based in an old flourmill in Queanbeyan. We called ourselves ‘The New Millwrights.’ These lectures grew in popularity, and we were soon flat out lecturing every

My next step was to set up my own company called Energy Systems International in 1980 to focus on the effective use of batteries in energy systems. I trained with Danish company Windmatic who produced and installed the world’s largest wind turbine – an 80kW monster! We set up small rural wind diesel projects on properties and homesteads around western NSW and QLD. At that time I had a 6kw wind turbine supplying power at my own home and I realised that there was a real need to automate and introduce renewable energy to remote larger community power stations, so I sold the company and moved to the NT to set up Powercorp. I began by talking with Power&Water and was generally laughed at. People thought my ideas were crazy, but Owen Peak the then CEO of Power and Water Authority had faith and the organisation backed the plan. By 1990 we had several automated power stations controlled from a central HQ and most of those are still running successfully after more than 20 trouble-free years. Sites such as Maryvale and Napperby were amongst the first to be automated. This work was extended to WA where Western Power, the local utility, took up the challenge to add wind power to save diesel fuel. We were awarded a $1m research grant from the Commonwealth


Government and the rest is history as they say. By this point the main barrier standing in the way of the efficient use of of wind turbines was achieving high penetration into the diesel grid. High frequency instability caused by the wind gusts was the problem. Varying wind speeds caused stress on the mechanisms and battery storage units. A solution was needed to create stable consistent power. So Powercorp developed a system using the tried and tested flywheel. This bi-directional flywheel system delivers and absorbs real and reactive power very quickly to compensate for wind gusts and lulls thus providing a stable and consistent power supply directly to the grid This allows 100% wind power with the diesel fuel becoming a back up system if needed.” HS: So what is the future for renewable energy in the NT and what will your work with ABB focus on in the next few years? AL: “It’s a hugely exciting time for us. There is a very strong movement towards energy independence. I think it’s going to be a challenge for the NT as gas power is currently cost effective, meaning renewable energy will only become competitive on the main grid if supported by subsidies. The real potential is in renewable energy sources in remote areas as these are cost effective at the moment and can immediately replace diesel fuel and achieve a positive return at today’s prices. The NT could look at a large-scale renewable generator to reduce the amount of power needed from the Channel Island power plant. I know that Power&Water are looking at long-term renewable options and they are to be congratulated for their efforts in this area.” HS: What are the merits of wind, solar, geothermal and tidal renewable energy in the NT? AL: “The NT is not a windy place but most of the NT is extremely sunny so we have to balance that out with solar. But solar is expensive and the sun only provides effective solar

orp’s Alan Langworthy radiation for 6 hours a day, less in the cloudy wet season. Where we have installed wind turbines in windy areas alongside diesel power, we have saved up to 60% in diesel fuel use. If we install solar and adapt our behavior to carry out power using activities during the day when solar is at it’s most effective, we stand a better chance of reducing our carbon emissions and cutting fuel bills. We call this ‘smart grid.’ The majority of energy used in the NT is used by the mining industry, Darwin city and in the major towns. These locations are ideal to make use of smart grid thinking. As a Geologist I see geothermal power as problematic. It has too many technical issues and is very expensive, so I see it as a dead end. The cost of tidal turbines technology is also huge, and we just don’t know how the equipment would cope with the harsh marine environment and unpredictable weather patterns of the top end.” HS: How are we going to get to a 20% Renewable Energy Target by 2020 from NT sources? How do you rate PV solar panels compared to solar thermal? AL: “The 20% target is very difficult for the NT to achieve but we have to try. To purchase certificates outside the Territory is completely unacceptable. So to work toward the 20% target we need both PV and solar thermal. Modern solar thermal plants are becoming cost effective where as PV has already gotten there.” HS: How well placed is the NT to capitalise on renewable energy technology? AL: “Darwin in particular is ideally suited to an electric economy. We have the capacity for corridors of electric transport, such as electric cars and light rail. Our current gas powered electricity is better than coal, but we must change the way we do things to reduce our emissions. Ultimately I don’t think people want to give up the freedom and independence offered by cars, but Darwin has the perfect geography for electric cars; open

flat roads with virtually no hills and being a compact city means less electrically powered miles to travel for work and leisure. And a well designed light rail system to get people away from their cars could justify the cost of a large solar thermal power plant.

excitement about the possibilities of a sustainable electric future. We have the chance to revolutionise our transport system into a clean electric one, but we need a true community approach. There is too much community malaise at the moment to allow this to happen.

We have excellent food producing capacity in the NT. We have large blocks of land, relatively fertile soils, expertise in permaculture and easy access to water. We have a fantastic opportunity to create selfsufficient communities that could feed and power themselves. “

The plans for the new city of Weddell shows a willingness to embrace renewable energy and become a sustainable city, but this good intention is yet to be realised. We are being held up by middle management in government, the media and a general apathy from communities. Sadly it can take a war or crisis before people actually feel compelled or are forced to change their habits.

HS: Do you think the Government is doing enough to make a renewable future a reality? AL: “Actually I think large corporations have more social responsibility and can be better architects for social change than governments can. Given that, I think the present Government is doing a solid job to assess the real potential for renewable energy. Its work with the Green Energy Task Force produced two good reports with solid plans. The challenge now is to muster funding and support for capital works to create the renewable power stations of the future. The carbon tax is fantastic for renewable energy prospects in the NT. The big question is how those funds will be administered. We need to decide how to allocate those funds, and if that is done in the right way the prospects could be very good indeed for the government to fund incentives.

But I am very hopeful. I have seen some wonderfully inspiring projects around the world, such as the Eden Project in Cornwall, UK and Masdar City in Abu Dhabi both acting as learning tools for how we can become more sustainable if we can bring together expertise, funding and a willingness to change our communities for the better.” To find out more: • • • •

Go to Check out the plans for Weddell Search for The Eden Project UK and Masdar City, AbuDhabi Look up the ‘Micro Grid’ concept

Many thanks to Alan for his time - Ed.

There is also a huge amount of private funding available, we need to create an environment where private funding can be employed to develop renewable energies, particularly in remote communities.” HS: What would you like to see happening in the NT right now? AL: “Firstly, we need to replace reliance on diesel in remote communities with solar power, ideally using private funding to do this. Then we need to develop solar thermal capabilities for the Darwin to Katherine Grid, and at the same time foster and grow a sense of 12

Above left: Alan Langworthy with Powercorp equipment. Above: Operating wind turbines

The global impacts of Australia’s uranium future By Cat Beaton and Peter Watts

Justin Tutty at the Nuke Free stall at the conference.

Peter Watts is an Arabunna man and Co-chair of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance. Cat Beaton is the Nuclear Free NT campaigner at the Environment Centre NT. In January, they went to Japan to attend the Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World and deliver a presentation about Australian uranium. Cat and Peter

were part of an Australian delegation that included the Environment Centre NT’s Justin Tutty.

As Australians visiting Japan in 2012 we were shown a ‘fork in the road’ regarding the future of nuclear power. Prior to March 2011, Japan had 54 nuclear reactors. Now it has only 5 in operation. The lights are still on and millions are questioning whether or not reactors are the future of Japan. Many people we met in Japan were confused about the long-term impacts from the Fukushima disaster and what the risks of radiation exposure were. Residents were saying there was not enough information from the government. Independent environmental contamination monitors like SAFECAST were swarming with volunteers and requests for Geiger counters.
Recently, Japan’s science ministry admitted the US military was provided information about radioactive fallout from Fukushima more than a week before the Japanese public was informed. This was the latest in a string of similar revelations.
 Australia is also at a ‘fork in the road’. We stare down the barrel of an

unprecedented expansion of uranium mining. Business giants want to triple uranium exports to countries like Japan. There are plans to expand BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine in South Australia and the Ranger uranium mine in NT, owned by Energy Resources of Australia.
Both mine expansions raise important local issues about the creation of, and longterm management of mountains of radioactive tailings waste, high water use, contamination, risk to workers, increased transport dangers.

BHP Billiton Olympic Dam Copper and Uranium Mine, SA - google images.

Given the unique and dangerous nature of uranium, the industry will never be easy to manage, it will never be cheap to regulate and development will always be met with opposition. Uranium mining is not just an ‘emotional’ issue; it presents serious risks like no other industry. What we are seeing in Japan today is that the fruits of our exports are rotting.
The tsunami that led to the meltdown at the Daiichi power plant in the Fukushima Prefecture will be forever etched in the minds of many. It was a moment in time comprehensively covered by just about every TV station and media outlet in the world. And


just as well, as this was the way that many in the Fukushima Prefecture found out what was happening.

 As the disaster unfolded, an exclusion zone was set up, a 20km circle around the plant. 120,000 people were evacuated from their homes and many were placed in temporary accommodation with no plan or direction for the future. Many thousands more live in an area on alert with bags packed and ready to move if the situation at Daiichi worsens. However, with some radiation readings that are higher outside the exclusion zone and little to no information or direction from the government, the decision to stay or go for those living in the Fukushima Prefecture is an agonising one. Along our travels through Japan we met many people who casually announced that they had left the area for fear of radiation.

Radiation levels have been detected in the breast milk of mothers and the urine of children. These facts are alarming, and if we were to experience this in Australia we would be up in arms to eliminate the cause, and ensure it never happened again.

We feel great sorrow that Australian uranium was present in all the stricken reactors at Fukushima. As Australians in Japan, it made us feel ashamed and embarrassed. Why aren’t we doing anything to help?

Nuclear Free NT

Why did it take us seven months to find out that our uranium was in use at Fukushima? The Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office belatedly acknowledged in October: “We can confirm that Australian obligated nuclear material was at the Fukushima Daiichi site and in each of the reactors.”

Meeting with people from Fukushima was confronting and humbling. It was very hard to look people straight in the eye and hear personal accounts from those in the Fukushima district and in temporary accommodation. A farmer in Fukushima had to slaughter his herd of cattle as the level of contamination in milk and meat was simply too high to sell. People are buying food from western Japan to avoid eating contaminated food. Farmers are going broke without government assistance as food from the Fukushima Prefecture remains on the shelves in supermarkets in Tokyo and beyond. There is a story of a farmer who committed suicide shortly after the March 11 disaster because he had spent years perfecting the quality of his soil and business only to learn that the contamination of his land was too high for him to continue farming.

 The organisation of mothers, teachers and everyday people was extraordinary. People who had never had concerns about nuclear power and radiation risks are now meeting for study sessions to educate themselves around the risks and probable outcomes that they can expect. Children from Fukushima are facing discrimination in the communities they have evacuated to, treated as if radiation was contagious.

 The power generated from the plants in Fukushima was all for export to the bigger cities, particularly Tokyo. The local people feel they have been abandoned, after serving the nation by hosting the power plants. People are angry, active and want answers.

 There have been calls for corporations who continue to profit from nuclear power to contribute to the enormous costs faced by communities as they manage decontamination, dislocation and loss of livelihood due to the compounded disasters. We strongly believe that uranium mining companies should also recognise a responsibility to compensate the people of Fukushima. It is sad that the uranium mining companies operating in Australia have turned a blind eye

‘Stupid TEPCO’ signs at Anti-nukes demo in Yokohama

to alarming revelations of safety breaches and safety data falsification in Japan over the past decade.

 Seeing the devastation from Fukushima made us think about the best way we could provide aid to a country in need. It would be good for Australia to assist with nuclear expertise, monitoring equipment, offers of accommodation or funding. But the best way we can help the people of Japan is by turning off the tap on our uranium mining industry to ensure that we do not fuel further tragedies.

The Environment Centre NT will host several events over the coming months where people can hear from those who visited Japan. Stayed tuned to: nt or join the Nuclear Free NT news

and events contact list by emailing Cat Beaton at: Also see more photos and news search for: ‘Nuclear trail Australia to Japan’ on facebook

Thousands Rally against Nukes in Yokohama

Cat Beaton & Peter Watts at Occupy Tokyo site


Nuclear Free NT

Below: A Geiger Counter in Fukushima

Terumi Kataoka

Uniting in Fukushima By Justin Tutty Nuclear Free NT Justin Tutty visited Japan in January and conducted an interview with Terumi Kataoka, from the Uniting Church in Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, calling on Australians to unite against nuclear power. Formerly an exchange student in Brisbane, Terumi describes how she fled the reactor disaster, but later decided to return to her community responsibilities in Aizuwakamatsu, Fukushima.

“G’day mate, I’m Terumi Kataoka. I’m a fair dinkum Aussie!

I was an exchange student to Brisbane a long time ago, so Australia is my second home country actually. As a Christian, I would like to send a message to the Christians in Australia. March 11th, the earthquake happened, and about 12 hours later that day, two mothers and their children evacuated to our church.

One of the mothers was a leader of anti- nuclear power activities in Fukushima Prefecture. So she knew how dangerous it would be in a short time, so that’s why she evacuated from Fukushima city.

I then travelled back to Aizuwakamatsu city, and I met so many mothers who are living in fear of the radiation. So I started Aizu Radiation Information Centre. We have been so busy in the last ten months, and still it’s going on.

Then, about a day later, she left Aizuwakamatsu, our city, our church, because she said 100km away from that plant was not safe enough, so she said she was about to evacuate to Nagoya, which is about 300km away.

We lost many things : the beauty of Fukushima city. We have rich nature, rich harvest, very nice places, so many tourists were visiting Aizuwakamatsu city. But we lost them. But, on the other hand, in the last ten months, I’ve met so many people who have supported me, who prayed for us, and then still it’s going on.

The following day, I sent my youngest son to Mie Prefecture, which is about 300km away, and then that next day I took my nephew there, so we were all 300km away. But, my panic started then. I realised that I had left my church behind. There were so many people, my loved ones, but I abandoned them to save my son’s life. The panic was long, and then I really felt like the Disciples who left Jesus on the cross. But with my family’ support, and the church members, I recovered myself. 15

I met a group from Australia today, and their speech was so impressive and they encouraged me a lot. That’s the only way we can unite, and also save children from the radiation. We have so many requests for the government, but they don’t listen. They’re doing something that we don’t want. So the only way is to unite people with people who are against nuclear power. Thank you very much.”




Parthenium weed





1 cm




Parthenium hysterophor

Mimosa pigra subfamily Mimosoideae FABACEAE (pea family) to 6m high with Description: Spreading shrubfeather-like, sensiprickly stems. Leaves prickly,Flowers in single or tive, folding when touched. purplish to pink. Pods heads, paired globular many 1-seeded segbrown when mature, with rusty bristles. Seeds ments, densely hairy with flattened. and oblong, brown or green Fruits: February-July Flowers: July-February e.g. floodplains and Habitat: Swampy areas, rses. along watercou and are dispersed float s segment Pod Dispersal: dispersed by humans by water. They are also to fur, clothing or and animals in mud adhering by roots growing aided vehicles. Dispersal also . positions from unusual pulling, grubbing, Control: Physical (hand ent (fire, hygiene, chaining); Land Managem quarantine, revegetation); control feral animals, soil basal bark, cut stump, Chemical (foliar spray, l. Biologica on); applicati America now invasive in Notes: A native of tropicalSouth-East Asia. Present tropical Africa, India and Gardens Darwin Botanic in the George Brown dense impenetrable late last century. Forms plants and animals, native thickets which exclude d and grassland on flood transforming sedgelan tall shrublands. Also plains into monotonous plant. known as giant sensitive

ASTERACEAE (daisy family) annual herb to Description: An erect, branchedLeaves alternate, crushed. 2m tall, aromatic when with fine, soft hairs. Stems deeply lobed, covered and becoming woody with longitudinally grooved has a bluish or plant whole The hairy. age are also ce. Flowers creamy-white, greyish-green appearan 5 distinct corners, in about 4mm across with on stalks which arise from large branched clusters the plant. Each flower of top the at axils the leaf seeds about 2mm long produces about 4 black aped appendages. with 2 thin, white, spoon-sh round Flowers/Fruits: All year it invades grazing land, Habitat: A pioneer speciess and cultivated areas. disturbed areas, roadside by wind and water. It Dispersal: Seed is dispersedmachinery or animals. vehicles, by can be spread of harvested material. It is also a contaminant ent (hygiene, reduce Control: Land managem tion); Chemical (foliar grazing intensity, revegeta spray); Biological. Americas and the West Notes: A native of the weed in most tropical a Indies however is now . Seeds are light and and subtropical countries s. Can cause allergic produced in large quantitiefever. Serious weed skin reactions and hay industries. Healthy for pastoral and croppingground or grass cover of pastures with high levels colonise. will reduce its ability to

1 cm

A 2m

5 mm

1 cm



2 mm




Nicholas Smith

Environment Centre



A: leaf and prickles and seed B: flowers and stem C: pod







A: leaves B: seed C: flowers


Over 50 people attended the launch of our new book WEEDS of NORTHERN AUSTRALIA: A FIELD GUIDE by Nicholas Smith at the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens on Friday 24th February. Hot off the press, this newly researched book by prominent weeds expert Nicholas Smith and publishers the Environment Centre NT is an invaluable tool to help land managers identify and eradicate weeds. • •

The field guide features photos and descriptions for 150 weed species Detailed descriptions for 90 high priority species

What key stakeholders say about this new book: “It is good to have a practical, easy to read guide to many of the key species across the North, most of which pose an outright threat to environmental, economic and cultural values, while a small few retain production and economic values in a balanced system. This guide is likely to find a place in many glove boxes.” Luke Bowen, Executive Director, The NT Cattlemen’s Association “Good weed management revolves around education, the more station staff that use this book, the better. It will really help them identify and learn about weeds.” Tony Searle, Melaleuca Station Book Sales : Copies are available for purchase at $25.00 from bookstores across Northern Australia, and from the Environment Centre NT. Contact: Lisa Peters Environment Centre NT Office Manager on: 08 8981 1984 or email: The Environment Centre NT gratefully acknowledges funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for Our Country program’s Community Action Grants, Territory Natural Resource Management, Australian Government National Environmental Research Program Northern Australia Hub, Meat & Livestock Australia, Darwin International Airport, NT Government Weed Management Branch, Darwin City Council, The Weed Society of Queensland, and Southern Gulf Catchments. Launch photos from top left: Project Manager Lesley Alford, Designer Hannah Seward & Author Nicholas Smith/The Author signing copies/Weed fighters of the future!/Cara Burke & Karen May from TerritoryNRM with Stuart Blanch/ Andrew Campbell & Michael Douglas from the Australian Government National Environmental Research Program Northern Australia Hub with Stuart Blanch & Sam Setterfield/Luke Bowen from the MLA with Stuart Blanch/Ben Stuckey & Piers Barrow with the Author/Jill Holdsworth & Ian Kew with Stuart Blanch/Annie Risk (who gave a great Welcome to Country) & Lorraine Williams.


Green Living

COOLmob is a community based project of the Environment Centre NT. COOLmob aims to help people reduce their CO2 emissions through their activities which include household energy audits, television advertisements, publications, campaigns, media events and activities.

Offsetting your

carbon footprint

By Bridget Edmunds, COOLmob Sustainability Officer

What are carbon offsets? A carbon offset is a reduction in emissions of carbon dioxide or greenhouse gases made in order to compensate for or to offset an emission made elsewhere. One carbon offset represents the reduction of one metric ton of carbon dioxide or its equivalent in other greenhouse gases. For unavoidable flights and car trips, purchasing carbon offsets is a good way to financially support projects that reduce emissions and hence offset the emissions you are responsible for. The 5 main categories of offsets available are:

1 2 3

Energy efficiency projects


Methane capture (for example from livestock or landfill to generate electricity)


Other waste diversion activities

Renewable energy, e.g. solar or wind projects Forestry, usually tree planting projects

When should carbon offsets be purchased? Carbon offsets can be purchased when you cannot avoid emissions through improved efficiency. Purchasing carbon offsets does not necessarily mean that you reduce your actual greenhouse gas emissions, but rather you compensate for it. A simple example of a carbon offset is tree planting, as at the most basic level trees store carbon and produce oxygen. The first thing you should do when reducing emissions is to make your life more sustainable. For instance, making your home energy efficient will result in a direct and immediate reduction in greenhouse gas emissions because you are using less electricity, and therefore producing fewer emissions. Carbon offsets mitigate the emissions that are already produced. You can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by:

1 2

Increasing energy efficiency


Reducing consumption such as flights, car travel and minimising waste

Purchasing Green Power or using renewable energy

Why purchase carbon offsets? You can purchase carbon offsets to compensate for the emissions you produce that you cannot avoid. For example, an individual can opt to buy carbon offsets when purchasing flights. This is called the ‘voluntary market’ and applies to individuals, businesses and some levels of government.

An individual may be motivated to purchase carbon offsets because they endeavour to do ‘their part’ for the environment (and future generations). Organisations on the other hand, may be motivated for this same reason (and often refer to it as ‘social-corporate responsibility), or wider political reasons (such as when an organisation claims to be ‘carbon neutral’). Large organisations (such as mining companies) may be required to purchase carbon offsets to comply with the limits on the total amount of green house gases they are allowed to produce as a result of their activities.

Carbon offset standard and guides Currently, offset projects do not have to be accredited by an independent party. It is very important to choose a quality offset provider who is voluntarily accredited by a rigorous accreditation body. These provide guidance on what is a genuine voluntary offset and sets minimum requirements for calculating, auditing and offsetting the carbon emissions. The federal government has developed the National Carbon Offset Standard (NCOS) to help consumers purchase quality offsets. The NCOS provides a means of ensuring the environmental integrity of the carbon offsets and carbon neutral products available in the Australian voluntary market for consumers and businesses alike. It assists consumers to make informed choices and interpret carbon neutral claims. The Carbon Offset Guide Australia gives a list of carbon offset providers in Australia. For a list of these providers and the level of accreditation each provider has obtained go to: 17

Right: Balloons showing CO2 quantities by Robin Knox

If you would like to receive our email NEWSLETTER send your email address to : The free newsletter is full of exciting sustainable living tips, gadgets and news. COOLmob now has a Facebook page! Please search for us and stay in the sustainability loop.


WATER IN YOUR DUNNY By Bridget Edmunds, COOLmob Sustainability Officer

The toilet is one of the most regularly used objects in the home so an easy place to start saving water is by reducing how much water is used in each flush. The ‘Flush Miser’ is a simple, small brass component that can easily be fitted to the full range of traditional toilet cisterns. This allows you to control the volume of water used in each flush, so as little as 1 litre of water can be used to flush smaller waste instead of 11 litres, and 3 litres to flush larger waste. The key is that you control the volume of water used, depending on how long you hold down the button. Some modern cisterns already allow you to control the length of your flush by the amount of time you hold down the button. PowerWater spends approximately $2.5M per year in pumping and treating water for use in the Darwin region, and this will continue to rise. This, as well as the 73% increase in your water prices over the last 3 years, is a good incentive to start looking where you can save water around your home and workplace.

The Flush Miser can also be installed on dual flush toilets (older cisterns use 11 litres for a full flush and 6 litres for a half flush). So even if you’re already using half the water of a traditional single flush toilet, you’re still able to save up to $70 per year in water costs, simply by controlling the length of each flush. The savings are that easy.

Installation: Installation is easy and you can do it yourself. Just lift your cistern lid and drop the Flush miser into the centre column. Cost: You can purchase a Flush miser from COOLmob at the discounted price of $15.00.

Call into our office at 98 Woods St, Darwin or call us on: (08) 8981 2532 for more details.

COOLmob have estimated that if your home currently has an 11 litre single flush toilet, and the toilet is flushed 30 times a day, you can save up to $110 per year* * for savings justification Above: A typical Darwin Dunny by Hannah Seward


Green Living

COOLmob is a community based project of the Environment Centre NT COOLmob aims to help people reduce their CO2 emissions through their activities which include household energy audits, television advertisements, publications, campaigns, media events and activities.

performances. It is likely that the main contributing factor is owner maintenance and age of panels, where dirty panels produce less electricity compared to new, clean ones. If you have rooftop solar panels the best way to ensure they have optimal output is to keep them clean and maintained, and ensure there is no shade on any part of any of the panels.

Green on Da Power Pr oduct rwin R Just h o ion ow go od is i ofs t?

By Robin Knox COOLmob Program Manager

There are approximately 800 homes in Darwin (1.6%), and about 500 homes in the Alice Springs Solar City (5.7%) who have solar PV panels installed on their roofs. Power and Water Corporation monitors the level of PV connected to the power grid. They also inform corporate and government policy, and study the impact on local networks. Power production from 300 Darwin systems has been analysed to assess the performance of solar PV panels in Darwin by Elizabeth Overend, Sustainable Energy Engineer, PowerWater. The study found that over 70% of systems performed well, producing between 3.0 and 4.5 kWh, per 1 kWh capacity panel, while some exceptional systems produced over 6.0 kWh/day/kW. The average Darwin household consumption is 25kWh per day, so an average household would need about 5 kWh of panels to meet their power needs, unless they take measures to reduce their consumption.

Some factors which may affect output performance are:

• Temperature • The type of panel (e.g. crystalline vs thin film) • Orientation - panel angle, tilt, panel direction (N-S-W-E and time of year.) • Sunlight hours • Age of the panels • Owner maintenance and • Panel manufacturer The PV panels studied in Darwin showed very little difference in output performance between the different types of panels or their orientation. Theoretically, and anecdotally, thin film performs better, while higher performance was quoted of crystalline panels when at lower temperatures. It is no surprise that solar PV panels produce more electricity in the Dry Season, but a day of full sun in the Wet will produce the highest daily power output of any day of the year (because the sun sits directly overhead.) At this stage it is unclear why some systems have different output

If you are thinking of installing solar PV panels on your roof then make sure you consult COOLmob’s Design for the Tropics handbook available on our web site. The low angle roof line of an elevated house facing north orientation is most suitable. Ensure that solar equipment receives maximum sunlight between 10am and 3pm, which are the most productive sunlight hours.

New Standard Set For Rooftop Solar Power Panels COOLmob is very pleased that one solar supplier has finally had solar power photo-voltaic (PV) panels tested and approved for fitting in NT cyclone areas. These panels have been wind tunnel tested and have a Deemed To Comply (DTC) Certification. That means that there is no requirement for the householder to apply for a building permit or get engineering drawings, which will reduce some of the cost involved in installing renewable energy on your roof.

COOLmob Special Offer COOLmob have arranged a Special Offer on DTC Solar Arrays where you receive a 7% discount if you register with COOLmob. Go to: to see how much you could save. With the ever increasing electricity prices and the Federal Government scaling back on solar rebates, now is the time to take advantage of our special offer.

Poly-crystalline Auxin PV panels. This solar array recently bore the full brunt of Category 4 cyclone Lua at Cape Croyden (recorded winds of between 230 and 250 Kmp/h) and was not damaged in any way. Supplied by Jeremy Devenish


Nature Territory The stunning coastline of Groote Eylandt, just north of the area being targeted for manganese seabed mining. Credit: R McDonald, ALC.

Marine win with seabed mining moratorium By Jess Abrahams, Northern Marine Campaigner

Mining companies have long sought to exploit the Territory’s mineral wealth. For nearly three decades the Environment Centre NT has fought inappropriate and risky developments, especially in sensitive and pristine areas. While we continue to oppose damaging mines on land and in rivers, we have just had a significant win for the marine environment with a moratorium announced on seabed exploration and mining. Interstate miners had been targeting the mineral wealth beneath our waves, with a number of recent proposals to mine the Territory seabed. Open-cut strip mining of the sea floor for heavy metals has no precedent in Australia, but is a new and emerging threat throughout the Pacific. The main focus for seabed miners in the NT was manganese, a mineral essential in steel manufacture. The most advanced project targeted the waters surrounding Groote Eylandt, where Anindilakwa Traditional Owners have said they were deeply opposed to any activity that threatened the cultural and environmental integrity of their sea country. With the world’s largest manganese mine already on Groote Eylandt, a risky underwater mine directly off shore simply made no sense. Devastating impact The open cut underwater strip mining planned for the NT would have had a devastating impact on the healthy marine environment we still have in the North. The sea floor is a critical habitat for marine life, it supports the

sea grass beds, mud flats and coral reefs where our fish, turtles, dugongs and dolphins feed and breed. Tearing up the seafloor for heavy metals would not only destroy this habitat locally, but fine sediments disturbed in the process could be spread by strong tidal currents to surrounding areas, smothering large areas and impacting the wider marine food chain. Fortunately, with your support, this threat has been halted – for now. Seabed mining sparked a broad range of community opposition in the NT. Following an effective campaign by Aboriginal Land Councils, recreational fishers, and local environment groups including the Environment Centre NT, the government has just announced a three year moratorium on seabed exploration and mining in NT coastal waters. The moratorium will put a halt on all seabed mining activities in Territory waters until 2015, pending the outcome of a comprehensive assessment by the EPA and Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority. While this is an important first step towards safeguarding our sealife, we now call on the NT government to make the ban permanent. We need laws that rule out this damaging and dangerous activity forever. More threats Unfortunately oil and exploration and drilling are excluded from the moratorium and can continue unabated in our coastal waters. Just recently applications were submitted to explore for oil and gas in sensitive marine areas including


the mouth of Darwin Harbour, nearby Bynoe Harbour, and the waters off iconic national parks like Cobourg and Kakadu. The government must announce reserves for special marine areas across the NT where all destructive industrial activities are permanently banned. With your support, the Environment Centre NT will be working alongside other groups to make sure our topical sealife is properly protected in the long term.

Groote Eylandt already has one of the world’s largest manganese mines, which makes a risky seabed mine directly offshore seem unnecessary, at best. Credit: R McDonald, ALC.

Preventing Seabed Mining.

A win-win-win outcome:


It protects the environment


It protects Aboriginal sea country, including areas of high cultural significance off Groote Eylandt


It protects important fish breeding habitat

Letters Letters

Your Say Office Waste

Junk Mail Problem

To the Editor,

To the Editor,

I am surprised that people at my office leave their computers on after hours when not needed, wasting electricity, and few people seem to notice.

On the 10th April 2004 it became illegal to send unsolicited commercial electronic messages to your inbox (SPAM), the same should apply to junk mail in our letterboxes.

As an experiment to see how people react to water wastage, I have left the tap running in the kitchen. People of course are quite horrified to see such wastage.

I have a ‘No Advertising Material Please’ sign on my letterbox, yet I continue to receive junk-mail. This advertising material is a nuisance, it fills my small letterbox rendering it useless.

Can you tell me what is more damaging to the environment – leaving a computer on all day or leaving a kitchen tap running all day, and should people be equally horrified at power wastage?

The wet season is upon us and my personal mail is found wet as the junk-mail syphons the water into my letterbox, or proves to clog my letterbox preventing personal mail from being inserted correctly leaving it exposed to the elements. It also is one of the most common forms of litter, clogging up drains and leaving an unsightly mess on our footpaths.

Bryan, Jingili Dear Brian, we can reduce the amount of wasted energy in our workplaces and homes by turning off equipment at the wall when not being used, even items left on standby suck up a surprising amount of power each day. - Ed

In some ways I would prefer to receive SPAM than to receive junk mail due to the waste of natural resources. Junk mail has the equivalent impact of clear-felling one million trees and uses 90,000 litres of water in Australia each year. That’s 6% (240,000 tonnes) of all the paper used, and 93% of all junkmail is ultimately discarded.

Bottles vs Cans? Dear Editor Please could you advise me which is the more sustainable in production, use and disposal - glass bottles or alumium cans of drink?

Is it not time to support sustainable practice by reversing the ‘No Advertising Material Please’ signage? Instead junk-mail should be delivered only to addresses that wish to receive this material (Just like SPAM) this can be achieved by a sign welcoming this advertising material on their letterboxes. It’s time to change the laws regarding the mass delivering of this environmental waste.

I would like to know if I should stock bottles or cans on my cruises in order to be as environmentally sustainable as possible. Many thanks Jim Smith, Sea Darwin Eco Cruises.

Dean Hoath, Darwin

Dear Jim, It’s difficult to say exactly, but aluminium cans require huge amounts of energy to produce and recycle, glass is heavy to transport but easier to recycle, whereas plastic is light to transport and most drinking container plastics are now fully recyclable. - Ed.


A good idea, but it would be hard for delivery people to know which addresses had requested junk. The Environment Centre NT supplies NO JUNK MAIL stickers, and they really work. I don’t get any junk mail since sticking one to my mail box. - Ed.

We’d like to hear from you....

Here’s your chance to put pen to paper and write in to the Environment Centre NT. We’d like to know what’s on your mind. Please send any letters, comments, tips, statements, facts or questions to us via post or email and we will select the best ones and put them in the next magazine. Topics can be on anything environmental. Maybe you have a question for the team here, a top tropical gardening tip, ideas to make our lives more sustainable, or simply want to let off steam about an issue, here’s the place to do it! Write to us: The Environment Centre NT, GPO Box 2120, Darwin, 0801. Email us: Call us: (08) 89811984 Please note: Submissions should be no longer than 200 words and must include your name and address and either a phone number or email address. We will not publish your name if you request us not to. We reserve the right to edit all content and refuse submission of any unsuitable content.



Darwin Sustainability Drinks at Lizards Drop in for a drink and nibbles, explore inspiring environmental solutions and see what’s happening on the Darwin green scene in 2012 and beyond. Great guest speakers and a whole host of friendly faces.


om Upc

When: 5pm to 7pm on the first Thursday of every month. Where: Lizards Bar, Top End Hotel (Cnr Mitchell & Daley St) Contact:


Guided Board Walk - East Point - Darwin When: Sunday 22 April at 11am Where: East Point Mangrove Boardwalk - Meet in the car park at the end of the lake What: Guided walk along the mangrove boardwalk - bring a hat, sunscreen, repellent, and water. Contact: Prue Barnard - 0411 829 382

If you have an event we should all know about please contact the Environment Centre NT: The Environment Centre NT, GPO Box 2120, Darwin, 0801

World Turtle Day - Sand Sculpture Competition When: Sunday 20th May Where: Mindil Beach, Darwin. What: Turtle sand sculpture competition & education activities. Grab your bucket and spade and join us! Contact: Lisa on: 08 8981 1984

Email us: Call us: (08) 8981 1984 Facebook: Environment Centre NT Flickr: environment_centre_nt

Top End Sustainable Living Festival

Twitter: StuartBlanch2

When: Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd June 2012 Where: George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, Darwin What: 3rd Sustainable Living Festival, run in conjunction with the Tropical Garden Spectacular. Contact: Mereki Garnett - 08 8981 1984

You can download a copy of PANDANUS Magazine from our website:

Top End Sustainability Week


Please return this form to: GPO Box 2120 Darwin 0801

Me Ma mb at rch ersh ww 31 ip w. st. s du ec Re e nt. ne or w g

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When: Late May to mid June 2012 Where: Various locations across greater Darwin What: A great mix of events, including the Top End Sustainable Living Festival and Tropical Garden Spectacular, plus schools events, a business lunch, the Melaleuca Awards, and many more. Want to run your own sustainable event? Let us know. Contact: Lisa on: 08 8981 1984

If you would like additional copies of PANDANUS please send us an email or give us a call on the contact details above.

Membership Application

The Back Page

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ett n r a G i k to Mere

niversity om the U f fr d te a u d o Mereki gra g with a Bachelor n o g in 2007, n e o ll re o g of W nce De ie c S l ta n e ion for Environm k his pass o to e h h e bicycle after whic nation-wid ploring a n o y it il er ex sustainab e onths. Aft m e lv e h depth h tour for tw of Australia in suc rings ine Alice Sp the coastl ted to the a it v dscape, ra g y ulture, lan ears. naturall c e th re y explo for three region to e territory th f o it ir and sp aculture t the Perm t, animal, a rn te in n n as been a dge of pla urban eeks he h is knowle h w t gy, g h lo in ig n io e fi b t s alia, re g, soil tr in s in u For the la a A f tr o r e h Institute orks, teac Research s, earthw m te . s rk sy o le w in remote aid and peop culturalist excited to lting, and a u s n rm o e c p d a n s is design a working a a, Mereki ater living and ew Guine f N o wards gre a ry to u p s to a e is P u h n d a e n v a h a it a ll li a W a in es of Austr nd mainta s. communiti at ECNT to seek a rse people e iv d s it m d a n a te s join the e territory in he look ility for th d in Darw n rown a , B g e in rg sustainab h o s and fi the Ge g d n n a rfi u ts s e s nment njoy Mark time he e dil Beach the Enviro and t e in a e M fr m t a a is h e te In tim the tival spending ed to join Living Fes forward to ens. Mereki is excit p End Sustainable d develop n a , To Week ard e y G it th il ic b n n a ru ta in l o B wil usta where he ordinate S Centre NT en Spectacular, co proram. n o ti a . ard l educ ta n e ereki - Ed m n Tropical G o envir e team M n a th r e to v e li e m and d Welco


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Check out our Facebook page:

Environment Centre NT

Check out our new website:

& About disaster, Centre NT Out Environment see after the nuclear how communities are coping eting

If you feel strongly about anything you have seen in this magazine, get involved...

Field Guide, been me We’ve been to Japan to eds of Northern Australia: A petition from the Marra We new us ulo fab our ed a launch weekend markets, presented the people of Darwin at the y support for protecting the Limmen Bight area from rall people to government to VIRONMENT Public Information Forum outlining the mining and held a VOTE EN es. government’s election promis

Take Action! Contact your local MLA, send them an email, call or write a letter, or submit a post on a our Facebook page. If we can help you to do this please give us a call on 08 8981 1984 or email

Out & About photos by Stu


art Blanch, Hannah Sew

ard and Cat Beaton

PANDANUS Magazine April 2012  

Magazine of the Environment Centre NT. Environmental news and events from the Northern Territory.

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