Sunday, September 23, 2012

“DO WE HAVE TO PERISH?” Or - I can’t smell the neighbourhood meth lab or the bloke burning those mango tree roots two houses up the street; what with all that smog blurting from that frigging sugar mill!

So why, lately, have we -
·        been coughing our guts out,
·        waking with nosebleeds,
·        watching our mammalian pets sicken and die,
·        finding it impossible to balance the PH in the fishtank
·        seeing our plants yellow and die

Sunday arvo 20 minutes to 3 o’clock and from 3 kilometres away I can hear the roar of steam being released form the boiler safety valves.

Ah God, another stuff-up - a long chain of stuff-ups in a not too difficult process plant management train.

But that’s not what prompted me to begin writing this article.

The mill blurting several thousand dollars worth of steam out into the atmosphere just now was pure coincidence - or looking at it another way, such a common occurance it had to happen at some stage while I’m writing this.

Back to the theme –
”a big empty space in the skyline of Bundaberg East from tomorrow, when the chimney stack at Millaquin Mill is removed” - “manager David Pickering said the 62m stack would be removed in sections”
”There’s always been this great big stack sticking up in the middle of the community.”
“Mr Pickering said the old stack had provided many years of service, but wear and tear meant it had to be replaced.”

For convenience and brevity I shall call Mr. David Pickering – 'Dave' – in the commentary –

Yes Dave. The old engineers knew they needed a stack that high to keep the air in Bundaberg reasonably free of smoke pollution. It worked – except for about half a dozen days a year when we had the inevitable mid-crushing inversion layer occurrences associated with the seasonal weather.
You would have records and drawings of all that Dave – exactly how they went about it.

While he was unsure how long this particular stack had been in place, Mr Pickering said the mill had been there since 1882 and there would always have been stacks since that time.”

I guess you could have added that they’ve always been bloody high until now. Eh Dave!

Mr Pickering said removing the old stack gave the company the chance to replace it with a new 35m version that would have less impact on the community.”
“part of a $40 million upgrade of the - Millaquin site. - equipment already in place had proved beneficial to the environment - reduced stack emissions to industry best practice, which had made them 14 times better in - environmental performance than before.”
Okay Dave, I get it now. You are playing with words.  Being shorter they’d have less impact on the community – IF, HA HA, THEY FELL OVER!
You ARE being a bit of a jokester there.
I almost missed that one.

Back to the boardroom of BS. (Bundy Sugar)
You’ve had to demonstrate a willingness to install some pollution reduction equipment to gain your carbon brownie points or risk being penalised.
So you’ve done that but gone the swings and roundabouts way and cheaped out on a few other items like stacks (that’s stacks plural) of adequate height.
Any halfbaked engineer can see your compromise there – escalating materials/construction costs – the need to increase mill throughput, while economising on everything.
Of course Bundaberg is going to get gassed out. Stands to reason since the shareholders demand a return for their money – besides which, the citizens are all too gutless to complain about anything as inconsequentially piffling as emphysema and black-lung.

“He said fossil fuel use at the site was being reduced as the mill moved
towards being a self-contained processor and power generator using renewable
energy from sugar cane waste.”

Oh wow Dave. I could have sworn that a certain sugar mill (where a lifetime ago I endured my engineering traineeship) fired its boilers with bagasse (what you call ‘renewable energy/sugar cane waste’) at about 98% of the time.
They also used bunker oil instead of coal for black starts and contingencies.
That was back in the early 1970s, though, Dave.

What’s the go Dave? Did the mills go into a bit of an enviro/efficiency backslide after I left?
But I s’pose you’d call me the liar.

”end of next year we plan to be using a minimal amount of coal - last year, steam engines replaced with electric mill drives that had contributed to increased reliability and better performance. New equipment installed this year - give the mill capacity to
crush 400 tonnes cane/hour.”

Was propaganda mentioned somewhere else on this blog?

Dave’s last few comments let us know why he needs those two shorty smokestacks. It fails to tell us that those stacks do not and can not get Dave’s nice clean, world’s best practice, chronic smoke pollution to clear the environs of this sorry, sickening, yet uncomplaining, little burg.

Before I forget -
“Contractors are now putting the finishing touches on the 1000-tonne circular bagasse storage system as part of the major upgrade.”

Well, Dave calls it a bagasse storage system. I call it a 1000 tonne bomb perched on legs at just the right height to blow apart the East side of town if it ever catches on fire.
Won’t do that Dave?
I disagree.
Smokestacks that can’t scavenge the boiler combustion chambers well enough to clear the environs of combustion gas are potentially going to dump hot gases and embers close downwind.
Your bagasse roundhouse is downwind from your stacks right now Dave.
And we’ve been copping your smoke too.
Then as you bloody well know you don’t need an external source of combustion.

For you gardeners out there -

For those who care about the space in which they live -
Extract – “A 2006 CSB study identified 281 combustible dust fires and explosions between 1980 and 2005 that killed 119 workers and injured 718, and extensively damaged industrial facilities.”

This author’s wife was commissioned to research and write an article for a local newspaper about the dumping of  massive quantities bagasse in a council garbage facility.
Being my lady wife and knowing of my  sugar mill acquired engineering background she asked me about the wisdom of burying bagasse underground.
I detailed what I have been now been able to corroborate thanks to the internet.
She wrote her article and was told that essentially she was scaremongering and going too far with suppositions.
She resigned.
About a month later after a few days of light rain that garbage dump caught on fire.
That fire kept burning underground for many months.
These days thirty or so years later voids collapse there leaving gaping holes in the turf.
What was supposed to be reclaimed swamp land for use as sports grounds still cannot be used.

If anyone cannot detect a theme here – it is about begging people to have their say.

Our cities. Those who win the raffles of election and usurp control of our lives simply because we are too busy – stressed out or gutless to regain control of our circumstances are systematically being replaced by incompetence.

This is happening everywhere.
Completely desperate toolheads take on jobs at a non-union rate and work a 35 hour week at the regular rate of 20 hours a day/8 days a week.
God only knows how they can pretend they are even functional but somehow they leak into sensible communities and bugger up everything for everyone in a couple of weeks flat.
Sure they get their break a few months after they start – and are packed up and pissed off down the road to their next adventure.
Yep. Goes without too much guesswork that our Dave mentioned above will be off to the mines or back home to wherever once we old timers are coughing up black blood from our lungs.

But why.
But why do we so stupidly forget EVERYTHING that is so critically important to remember.

Why keep falling for the crapola and propaganda that diverts us from what is right there before our eyes, saturating the very air we breathe and undermining where we walk.

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