Red flood part of maintenance

A FLOOD of red-stained water flowing like a "burst water main" and smelling strongly of caustic at South Trees Inlet last Friday had fisherman James Smith concerned about pollution to the waterway.

"It had a real caustic smell, and that was my main concern," Mr Smith said.

"I don't want to end up with a gut full of caustic." Mr Smith called QAL about his concerns, but was not entirely satisfied with the response.

"She said there was nothing wrong with that water, that it was being monitored. She said that she would slow it down by half. She said they had had trouble with the pumps and didn't do it very often."

Queensland Alumina Ltd (QAL) health safety environment and communities manager Ross Greenhalgh said the water release was part of a maintenance program.

"During the last week, QAL has been performing scheduled maintenance cleaning the discharge channel of the Red Mud Dam from the maze to the outfall," Mr Greenhalg said.

"This is the first time this has occurred in the operation of the dam. During the cleaning process the discharge from the dam bypasses the channel.

"Water quality was monitored during this period and the suspended solids concentration did not exceed the limit set in the Development Approval by the EPA."

Red Mud is a fine-grained residue left after alumina has been extracted by bauxite.