Esperance clean-up and recovery
About the Esperance clean-up and recovery project
In December 2008 the State Government launched the Esperance clean-up and recovery project, a rigorous and comprehensive exercise to clean-up the Esperance town site of lead carbonate and nickel sulphide dust that had escaped from the port during ship loading over a number of years.
The Department of Environment and Conservation has imposed a number of licence conditions on the Port of Esperance to ensure all future metal concentrate exports do not cause any further health or environmental problems.
The committee first met in December 2008. In January 2009, a project director was appointed and an office established in Esperance to manage the clean-up and recovery project. The project identified 2,502 premises within a likely area of contamination, covering approximately half of the townsite. Over 120,000 samples were collected and tested. Further data analysis identified 1,847 premises that required some form of cleaning.
The clean-up was completed by 2011 and, following a monitoring program to ensure no recontamination was occurring, the project was closed in June 2015.
Removing the remaining lead carbonate from the Port of Esperance
In the summer of 2006-07 the Esperance community reported a significant number of dead birds around the town and subsequent testing showed the birds had high levels of lead in their bodies.
Lead carbonate mined near Wiluna north of Kalgoorlie was exported through Esperance between 2005 and 2007 and dust containing lead escaping in the unloading, storage and loading processes led to contamination of areas in and around the Esperance town site.
Once this was confirmed the export of lead carbonate was immediately suspended and approximately 8000 tonnes of lead carbonate was placed in storage at the port in March 2007.
The procedures for removing the remaining lead carbonate went through an extensive process involving the Esperance community and all relevant State Government agencies to ensure its removal would occur without the risk of further contamination of the community or the port.
The remaining lead carbonate was removed from Esperance in two shipments: the first 600 tonnes in late March and the remaining 8,500 tonnes on 4 May 2009.
Esperance clean-up and recovery: Project updates
The clean-up of Esperance is now complete. Independent auditors have reported that "…the procedures developed for the ECRP, the manner in which the ECRP team delivered the project and the community input has combined to allow a robust, technically justifiable and comprehensive clean-up and validation of the Esperance Townsite."
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