Fed Govt releases PFAS contamination recommendations

The Federal Government’s PFAS Sub-Committee has made nine recommendations to improve its response to PFAS contamination.

It is part of a report tabled by the Chair of the PFAS Sub-Committee, Andrew Laming, and analyses the Australian Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade’s inquiry into the management of PFAS contamination in and around defence bases.

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The report recommends establishing a Coordinator-General with the authority and resources to effectively coordinate Federal Government efforts to reduce PFAS contamination and to ensure there is a consistent approach across community consultations and cooperation with state, territory and local governments.

Improvements to voluntary blood testing program could also be used as a source of longitudinal information on the health effects of PFAS exposure and the effective methods to break PFAS exposure pathways.

The Federal Government has also been recommended to assist property owners and businesses in affected areas for demonstrated, quantifiable financial losses associated with PFAS contamination from defence bases. This could be undertaken through a comprehensive scheme that is flexible enough to accommodate a variety of individual circumstances.

“I would like to thank and pay tribute to the many members of PFAS affected communities across the country who made submissions to the inquiry and who appeared to give evidence at public and in-camera hearings. I trust that this report honours their effort,” Mr Laming said.

EOI open for WALGA bin tagging program

Expressions of interests are open for WA councils to roll out the WA Local Government Association’s (WALGA) bin tagging program.

WALGA has received funding from the WA Waste Authority to assist five local governments implement the program, with each local government needing to provide in-house staffing to assist.

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Assistance with the bin tagging program includes designing and printing of bin tags, funding to assist staffing for audits and training to facilitate the implementation of the program.

The program aims to encourage households to separate materials into the correct bin by providing direct feedback on through the tags.

Each tag will provide feedback on the content of a resident’s bins and provide guidance for what can and can’t be placed in the bin.

Bin auditors will conduct an assessment of the contents of each bin at the kerb and collect data for each household. The tag is then placed to provide individualised feedback about the content of the bin.

The program aims to reduce the long term costs for local governments by reducing contamination and encouraging diverting waste from landfill.

Generic tags have been made available for two bin systems and three bin systems for local governments that provide green waste or food organics in garden organics (FOGO) bins.

WALGA has prepared guidelines to give local governments a step by step process to implement the tagging program in their area, which detail the planning, preparation, implementation and evaluation phases of the program.

The program was tested in a pilot phase in 2015 and rolled out in 2016 across the Cities of Cockburn and Joodnalup, the Shire of Capel and the Towns of Bassendean and Mosman.

For more information on how to apply, click here.

New mercury treatment plant to eliminate contaminated exports

One of the largest mercury treatment facilities in the southern hemisphere has opened and will eliminate the need to export mercury-contaminated waste from Australia.

Located in Karratha, Western Australia, the Contract Resources’ Gap Ridge Processing Facility is capable of handling all mercury contaminated waste produced by Australia’s oil and gas sector into the foreseeable future.

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It also fulfils the Australia’s obligations under the Basel Convention, an international treaty designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between countries.

Contract Resources Chief Executive Adam Machon said the facility sets the international benchmark for best-practice in safe and efficient mercury waste management and recycling of all elements for alternate use. He says it helps avoid the need for mercury contaminated landfill or further processing, as required by other technologies.

“Through combining the world’s best practice processing technologies and Contract Resources’ 30 years of industry experience, the facility has set a new benchmark globally for the safe treatment, recycling and processing of domestic and export-destined mercury contaminated waste from the oil and gas sector,” Mr Machon said.

“The export of mercury contaminated waste has always and continues to concern us, due to the risks of the combination of road, rail and shipping transport, loss of the custody chain and recent high-profile cases of mercury waste being dumped illegally overseas,” he said.

Mr Machon said the opening of the facility demonstrates Contract Resources’ commitment to developing innovative, safe and environmentally complaint, mercury waste management solutions to ensure the safe treatment and recycling of mercury related waste.