KI timber company ordered to stop underwater drilling following contamination concern
Underwater drilling has been halted off Kangaroo Island, prompting a dispute involving two government departments and the country’s largest abalone farm over whether the appropriate approvals had been given to the company carrying out the activity.
Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers was issued with a stop-work order from South Australia’s Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) over its drilling activities in Smith Bay.
The department said the company did not receive the necessary approvals to conduct investigative drilling as part of a development proposal for a new wharf — a claim rejected by the business.
Yumbah’s Kangaroo Island Abalone Company, whose nearby farm is the largest in the country, said it was concerned about possible contamination of its stock.
General manager David Connell said drilling started on Tuesday and continued into Wednesday morning.
“Much to our surprise, they commenced drilling,” he said.
“Nobody has had a chance to even meet yet or discuss anything and this rig has just arrived.
“This is terrible for all of our stock.”
The department said it had since intervened to prevent further drilling.
“A stop-work notice has now been issued for all drilling activities to immediately cease and for the drilling equipment to be removed from the land.”
Approval given by Environment Department, company says
Managing director of Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers, John Sergeant, said the drilling company contracted was working under an ongoing licence from the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR).
“The contractor who has the drilling has a standing license from DEWNR to conduct work of this type in South Australian waters and never have any permits beyond that been required of them,” he said.
Mr Sergeant said the company had halted the activity for the time being.
“Given the ruckus that’s been kicked up by the neighbours we decided, strategically, to withdraw from the activity,” he said.
“We’ve re-deployed the drilling team back to Adelaide while we wait for clarity from the Minister of Transport about whether he is happy for the activity to proceed.”
Mr Connell said the abalone company was forced to keep staff on overnight when the drilling started on Tuesday night because of contamination concerns.
Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers announced this week it had secured finance from the Commonwealth Bank for the wharf project, with construction costs estimated at $30 million.
The bank will lend up to $57.1 million, but Mr Sergeant said that was not linked to the commencement of drilling.
“We’re really pleased to have secured finance for the wharf, if and when the Government approves it,” he said.
“The soil sampling offshore is part of the development assessment process. The finance is a separate matter and the two aren’t related.”
KI timber company ordered to stop underwater drilling following contamination concern by Annabelle Regan. Available from <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-10/timber-company-ordered-to-stop-drilling-off-kangaroo-island/8342338> [Posted