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Smelting Emissions Escape Regulation

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Ineffective regulatory authorities and inconsistencies in pollution licensing for mining and smelting operations in Mount Isa and Port Pirie are leading to massive emissions of the toxic pollutants arsenic, cadmium, lead and sulfur dioxide, according to research published in Aeolian Research.

In Port Pirie the national 1-hour standard for sulfur dioxide emissions was exceeded 50 times in 2012, and recent 24-hour maximum lead-, arsenic- and cadmium-in-air levels were 45, 42 and 36 times above recommended annual levels for air quality.

At Mount Isa, the national 1-hour standard for sulfur dioxide emissions was exceeded 49 times in 2012 while recent 24-hour maximum lead-, arsenic- and cadmium-in-air levels were 25, 495 and 36 times above recommended annual levels for air quality.

“These emissions escape regulation because of special pollution arrangements in Mount Isa, which permit exceedences until the end of 2016, and because the pollution measures are based on an annual average value,” says Prof Mark Taylor of Macquarie University.

Emissions of arsenic, cadmium and sulfur dioxide are not included in the licence arrangements for the smelter at Port Pirie ,and therefore cannot be enforced. Furthermore, atmospheric lead measurements are based on an annual average so they don’t capture the short-term emissions spikes in places like Mount Isa....

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.