MOVING OUT: The woodchip pile at Auckland Point is slowly shrinking as it is loaded for export. Photo Helen Spelitis / Gladstone Observer
MOVING OUT: The woodchip pile at Auckland Point is slowly shrinking as it is loaded for export. Photo Helen Spelitis / Gladstone Observer Helen Spelitis

Massive Woodchip pile won't self combust despite 'smoke'

THE HUGE woodchip pile at Auckland Point has started shrinking as the chips are loaded for export.

The pile had become so large Gladstone Ports Corporation decided last month not to accept any more chips from the HQ Plantations salvage operation until after the first shipment left Gladstone - which was expected to happen last month.

Despite some concerns from residents the woodchips were a fire hazard, after smoke was reportedly seen coming from the pile, HQ Plantations says there is no chance the chips will spontaneously self-combust.

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Regional Forest Manager Andrew Dunn said the high moisture content in the woodchips meant the pile was not prone to combustion, and the "smoke" was actually steam as the woodchips dried out.

"The warmer steam and moisture rises from the bottom of the pile and is expelled out the top," Mr Dunn said.

"This is usually visible in early mornings and often dissipates as the day goes on."

HQ Plantations began running a salvage operation in Byfield after Cyclone Marcia destroyed large amounts of forestry in February.

The logs are being exported to China via Gladstone Port with one shipment a month making it the second largest log export operation in Australia.

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