Three dead as ship topples control tower

At least three people are dead and six injured after a container ship crashed into a control tower in northern Italy.

The control tower which was reportedly more than 50 metres high, was destroyed on impact.

According to Reuters, two of the people killed were harbour officials while the third was one ff the pilots.

Seven people were also reported missing after the accident, three of whom are believed to have been trapped in the lift of the control tower and may have fallen into the sea.

The accident happened as staff were changing shifts, meaning there were more people than normal in the tower.

"It is a terrible tragedy," the head of the Genoa Port Authority Luigi Merlo told local Genoa television station Primocanale.

"At the moment there is no explanation for the accident."

The accident happened as the ship, the Jolly Nero, was moving out of the port with the help of tugboats.

"A thing like this has never happened, we are devastated," said Stefano Messina, one of the directors of the family-owned local fleet operator Ignazio Messina and Co.

The captain was quoted as saying: "Two engines seem to have failed and we lost control of the ship.

The Jolly Nero is a 238-metre-long container ship with a gross tonnage of 40,594 tonnes.

Investigations into the accident are continuing.

Image: Francesco Pecoraro/AP

WA Labor draws ire of mining companies

Mining companies in Western Australia have slammed a state election pledge by the Labor party to scrap funding for the massive Oakajee port development.

Labor has pledged to remove $339 million allocated to Oakajee to help fund a new rail project in Perth.

The West Australian reports the plan has drawn criticism from mining companies in the state's mid-west, who claim Labor has ignored the importance of the fledgling region.

“WA Labor is prioritising the city over the mid-west and the future development of one of the State's most important region,” Geraldton Iron Ore Alliance CEO Rob Jefferies said.

Oakajee Port and Rail CEO John Langoulant also said the project needed Government funding in order to proceed.

Late last year Japanese giant Mitsubishi indefinitely shelved plans for the Oakajee project, blaming volatile iron ore prices and global uncertainty for the setback.

Most of the jobs associated with the project were also cut, with the conglomerate moving in a skeleton crew to maintain the operation.

On top of the $339m allocated to the project by the State Liberal Government, the Gillard Government has also pledged around $341m to help support the development.

WA Labor leader Mark McGowan said withdrawing funding from the project would help other developments go ahead.

“We will take the $339 million allocated to Oakajee, a project that is not happening, and put it into a project that will create jobs,” he said.

Abbot Point Coal Terminal future in doubt as Rio pulls out

The future of the massive Abbot Point Coal Terminal is in doubt after main supporter Rio Tinto has pulled out of development.

The $6.2 billion expansion of the coal port would see four additional coal terminals built; which would provide an extra annual capacity of 120 million tonnes and would support the developments in the Bowen, Surat, and Galilee Basins of Queensland.

Rio is believed to have pulled out of the development due to ‘economic uncertainty’, the Daily Mercury reports.

"Rio Tinto withdrew from the current process for the potential development of additional port capacity at Abbot Point, due to changes in the economic environment and the commitments required to progress the option," a Rio Tinto spokesperson said.

"Global economic markets have shifted to a period of significant uncertainty and we continue to see both a sustained upward pressure on costs and long timeframes for regulatory approvals."

However the miner has not ruled out future participation.

"Rio Tinto would welcome the opportunity to participate in further discussions should key elements of the Abbot Point proposal be revised in the future, such as the development model and scope of commitment required. Rio Tinto’s focus at present is evaluating potential alternatives to Abbot Point for additional port capacity."

Despite the move potentially threatening the future of the port, the region’s mayor Mike Brunker was unworried.

"I think it’s nothing to panic about.

"It’s cutting the weak from the strong," Brunker said, adding that a lot of other miners are eyeing the port as well.

However the member for Dawson, George Christensen, raised concerns over Brunker’s flippant attitude, saying that other miners may follow them out the door.

"There’s speculation BHP Billiton could be jittery on it (the expansion) as well."

Christensen said that continued government approval delays were the real reason behind Rio’s move, stating that these "approvals have been with the Federal Government since December 2010 until now".

"If (approval times) go on too long it will kill (the expansion).

Melbourne dredging Environmental Management Plan approved

The Environmental Management Plan (EMP), the ‘rule book’ for the Channel Deepening Project, has been given the green light.

Port of Melbourne Corporation (PoMC) today received the Federal Government approval for the EMP, which details the environmental protections for Port Phillip Bay during the Channel Deepening Project.

PoMC welcomed today’s decision by the Federal Minister for Environment, Mr Peter Garrett, giving the final approval required for the EMP. This now means PoMC can proceed with the project beginning with dredging in the north of the bay as scheduled on or after 7 am on Thursday 7 February 2008.

The Federal Minister’s approval of the 127 page document follows that of the Victorian Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Mr Gavin Jennings, late last year.

“This EMP is the project’s governance document and the culmination of an exhaustive assessment process over four years that has included expert and regulatory analysis, an independent Inquiry review and public scrutiny,” said Mr Stephen Bradford, PoMC chief executive officer.

The EMP details the environmental management requirements of the project. It sets out the:

• Project delivery standards, including environmental controls and limits.

• Monitoring programs and post construction requirements (e.g. inspections).

• Regulatory controls and reporting procedures.

• Contractor and communication measures.

For turbidity monitoring, hi-tech environmental measures will be in place. A network of fixed monitoring buoys will record turbidity readings at designated locations around the bay. This will be used to monitor compliance with limits designed to protect the environment.

To monitor airborne noise, readings will be taken from various locations around the bay to confirm that State Environment Protection Policy (SEPP) N-1 requirements are adhered to. Underwater noise monitoring will be conducted to ensure levels are consistent with modelling.

The EMP also comprises 13 baywide monitoring programs and detailed work methods to provide broader information on the status of key species, habitats and ecological processes in the bay. The programs will focus on fish stocks in the bay, water quality, little penguins, nutrient cycling, plume intensity, contaminants in fish, algal bloom, Ramsar wetlands and seagrass.

The programs involve the use of various monitoring methods such as satellite imagery, aerial photography, sampling for laboratory analysis, individual site monitoring, data collection, surveys, field measurements and mapping.

The dredging schedule for the Channel Deepening Project will be published on the dedicated website www.channelproject.com and will be updated on the commencement of dredging.

Mr Bradford said the independent environmental monitor will provide advice on dredging, in accordance with the thresholds outlined in EMP, and in line with this, PoMC will maintain consistent reporting procedures.

Last year, the EMP was publicly presented in conjunction with the SEES and revisions were assessed by the independent SEES Inquiry.

Mr Bradford said following discussions with the Commonwealth Department, PoMC had reviewed the EMP accordingly and had incorporated the requirements of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 (Cwlth), where relevant, into the EMP.

PoMC has further refined reporting and notification procedures and the monitoring measures within Ramsar listed areas and clarified the process of dredged material management.

Mr Bradford said in order to ensure that the EMP, and associated limits and controls were adhered to, a series of inspections, audits, reviews and importantly, independent monitoring programs will be conducted throughout the course of the project. He said PoMC confirmed the budget of $969 million for the whole project.

The EMP is now available on the web. To view the EMP, please visit the Channel Deepening Project website www.channelproject.com.

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