In mid December 2020, ECF learnt from ecologist Peri Coleman of the unfolding tragedy at St Kilda, with the (then) loss of 10 hectares of mangroves and 35 hectares of samphire. While the issue gained some media exposure in December, the harm began much earlier in 2020 killing mangroves, samphires and gardens of St Kilda residents.
The leaking of acidic material from the adjacent saltfields into the local environment came about after the salt fields operator, Buckland Dry Creek (BDC), filled decommissioned gypsum ponds with hyper-saline brines. Because the aged gypsum ponds were cracked, the ponds leaked and mobilised acidic materials from underneath the gypsum crust.
ECF was invited to the first meeting on December 23rd between concerned individuals and NGOs with the relevant SA government agencies, Department of Energy and Mining (DEM), Department of Environment and Water (DEW) and the EPA.
While DEM issued a direction to Buckland Dry Creek on December 24th, no pumping (to empty the ponds) began until January 11th. Over January considerable salt crystallised in the ponds and DEM’s directions were rendered ineffective.
Alarmed by the lack of progress by DEM and BDC, an Alliance of NGOs (now 20) Save St Kilda Mangroves was formed and ECF became a member.
On Feb 2nd a Vigil was held at Parliament House advocating for a 4 step Action Plan to rescue the situation:
DEM and BDC’s efforts to date have failed and the area of dead mangroves and samphires is growing.
Further directions to BDC are expected soon, though the Alliance hasn’t been consulted about the options being considered.
For further information visit the Alliance website which also provides links to the Alliance socials – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The Department of Energy and Mining has a web presence about the Dry Creek Salt Field, which provides background information and scientific reports.