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Notice given 27 August 2007

*3446  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources—In regard to proposed channel deepening in Port Phillip Bay, Victoria, and the proposed dredging of contaminated sediments from the Yarra River, Victoria:

(1) Is the Minister aware that the independent planning panel which assessed the initial Channel Deepening Environmental Effects Statement (EES) found that ‘The failure to exhibit the document “Stage 2: Additional Environmental Survey Work”, was a significant procedural defect’ and that ‘The most expeditious remedy for potential parties procedurally disadvantaged by the non-exhibition of documentation will be to participate in the exhibition and public review of a successor document’.

(2) Is the Minister aware that the Channel Deepening Supplementary Environmental Effects Statement (SEES) Human Health Risk Assessment — Head Technical Report , produced by Golder Associates Pty Ltd in January 2007, cites an August 2006 report by Jennifer Hale, Minor Maintenance Dredging Campaign — Water Quality Monitoring in the Dredge and Disposal Plumes (the Hale report), as the source of water quality data relating to contaminated sediments.

(3) Is the Minister aware that the Hale report does not report on any water quality sampling sites from within the Yarra River.

(4) (a) Is the Minister aware that the Hale report was not included in the Channel Deepening SEES; and (b) will the Minister consider the report in his evaluation of the Channel Deepening Project (CDP) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 .

(5) (a) Is the Minister aware that the baseline benthic fauna surveys for the Port of Melbourne Dredged Material Ground (DMG), south-east DMG and Yarra River estuary, produced by Sinclair Knight Merz in September 2006, were not included in the Channel Deepening EES or SEES, and that a limited number of copies were made available only after public presentations to the inquiry had been delivered; and (b) will the Minister consider the report in his evaluation of the CDP under the Act.

(6) (a) Is the Minister aware that the bioaccumulation study produced by Sinclair Knight Merz in April 2006 was not included in the Channel Deepening EES or SEES, and that a limited number of copies were made available only after public presentations to the inquiry had been delivered; and (b) will the Minister consider the study in his evaluation of the CDP under the Act.

(7) Will the Minister respond to allegations that the documents not included in the SEES, referred to in paragraphs (4), (5) and (6), contain instances where elevated levels of toxins are overlooked, and that data is interpreted in a way that casts a more positive light on the CDP than is actually the case.

(8) Is the Minister aware that the Channel Deepening SEES Executive Summary produced by the Port of Melbourne Corporation (PoMC) in April 2007 states, on page 31, that ‘Extensive research by PoMC has identified no health risk concerns for recreational swimmers or consumers of fish caught in the lower reaches of the Yarra River as a result of the CDP’.

(9) Given that no testing was done for dioxins and radionuclides in the SEES, will the Minister request that this be done.