The South Australian EPA has issued environmental guidelines for Nyrstar’s Port Pirielead smelter setting out finalised variations to the licence conditions.


The changes to Nyrstar’s current licence will impose new, tougher requirements relating to the operation of the current facility in the short term, as well as requiring a program to assess and develop a satisfactory plan for longer term, more transformational reductions in emissions from the smelter.


EPA Deputy Chief Executive Tony Circelli said that the Authority recognized Nyrstar’s efforts towards a significant reduction in children’s blood lead levels and the reduction in lead emissions achieved through its $50-million investment in programs such as tenBy10 which over a five-year period reduced the children with blood lead levels above 10 micrograms (μm) per decilitre from 60% to 28%.


“Whilst these has been significant achievements it remains a fact that blood lead levels in some children are still above the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) recommended blood lead levels,” said Mr Circelli.


“The variations to Nyrstar’s licence will impose in the short term new air quality limits for lead in air at key monitoring sites – Oliver St and Pirie West Primary School – these are enforceable limits that must be met. In addition Nyrstar is required to undertake high volume air sampling at all sites.


“In the longer term Nyrstar will be required to achieve a further substantial reduction in emissions, which is not considered technically possible with the current smelter technology, to ensure that NHMRC recommendations for blood lead levels are met for all Port Pirie residents,” said Mr Circelli.


SA Premier Jay Weatherill said that the EPA’s decision gives the Government a clearer path to secure re-investment in the plant.


 “We recently established the Port Pirie Transformation steering committee to work with Nyrstar to ensure the future of the plant,” he said.


“Nyrstar clearly will need to invest in new technology to achieve the objectives set out in the new licensing conditions agreed with the EPA.”


“The steering committee is continuing to investigate options for securing the resources required by Nyrstar to finance that investment in a way that will underpin the continued future of the Port Pirie plant.”


Mr Weatherill said while in Canberra for COAG this week he used his time to discuss with Federal Government Ministers ways of securing Nystar’s re-investment.


“There is no denying the importance of the smelter to Port Pirie and the entire Spencer Gulf region; the town would struggle to survive without it.”


“It is vitally important Nyrstar finds a way to re-invest in what will not only be a cleaner, healthier plant, but also an investment in a long-term, secure future for the workers and people of Port Pirie.”