VWMA 2018 State Conference wrap-up

This year’s Victorian Waste Management Association State Conference addressed all the key issues impacting the state’s waste and resource recovery sector, including changes to the EP Act and the government’s stockpiling taskforce.

This year’s Victorian Waste Management Association State Conference addressed all the key issues impacting the state’s waste and resource recovery sector, including changes to the EP Act and the government’s stockpiling taskforce.

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EPA VIC consider application for $12M waste to energy facility

Resource Resolution Pty Ltd has applied to establish a $12 million commercial food waste processing facility which has the capability of producing biogas for energy.

The proposed facility would process 30,000 tonnes of liquid food waste a year and produce 2.4 megawatts of power.

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Resource Resolution also aims to recover organic matter for use as animal feed or to generate renewable energy with an anaerobic digestion facility.

Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria received the works approval for the site, planned to be located at 19 Winter Road, Girgarre.

Resource Resolution has proposed to use the Biogass Renewables AD system, which is currently used in Perth, WA. It is estimated that the bioenergy operation will process 23,382 tonnes of dairy, 3,475 tonnes of food products, 2,421 tonnes of fruit and vegetables and 722 tonnes of supermarket and grocery waste.

EPA Victoria’s assessment of the application will consider best practice technology, energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions and waste composition. It will also assess any potential risk to human health and the environment, including from emissions to air, noise, disposal of digestate, the waste water treatment system and operation contingencies.

An application for an amendment to the current planning permit is currently under assessment by Campaspe Shire Council.

Works approvals are required for industrial and waste management activities that have the potential for significant environmental impact.

EPA VIC hold public meeting for waste to energy facility

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria will hold a public meeting after receiving a works approval application from Australian Paper to develop a large-scale waste to energy facility.

The facility is proposed to be co-located within the boundaries of the Australian Paper site in Maryville, Latrobe Valley.

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Australian Paper propose the facility would accept and use an estimated 650,000 tonnes a year of municipal solid waste and commercial and industrial waste from the Melbourne and Gippsland regions.

In order to begin works, a works approval is required from EPA for any waste management activities that have the potential for significant environmental impacts.

EPA Director of Development Assessments Tim Faragher said EPA Victoria will now hold a section 20B Conference under the Environmental Protection Act 1970 to ensure it understands the views of the community regarding the works approval application.

The Section 20B Conference will be independently chaired and a report produced detailing key issues and possible solutions raised in written submissions and at the conference. This report, which will be made available online, will be used by EPA to inform its decision on whether or not to approve the works approval application,” he said.

The conference will be held on 25 July 2018 at the Premier Function Centre, 29 Grey Street, Traralgon at 6pm.

EPA VIC to consider waste to energy plant

A large-scale waste to energy plant could be on the way for Victoria, as manufacturing company Australian Paper has lodged a works approval application with Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria.

The facility is proposed to be co-located within the boundaries of the Australian Paper site in Maryvale, Latrobe Valley.

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Australian Paper propose the facility would accept and use an estimated 650,000 tonnes a year of municipal solid waste and commercial and industrial waste from the Melbourne and Gippsland regions. Waste will be collected from the existing waste collection network and transferred to the site via road and rail.

The proposed plant would generate both steam and electricity which can be used in the papermill to power its operations or exported to the grid. The plant would replace two existing gas-fired boilers and produce around 30 megawatts electric and 150 tonnes per hour of steam.

EPA Executive Director Assessments Tim Eaton said the application is the first in Victora for a large-scale energy from waste plant using municipal solid waste.

“EPA invites the community and interested parties to review the application and make submissions which will be considered in EPA’s assessment of the application,” he said.

“EPA’s assessment of the application will consider issues such as use of best practice technology, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions, waste fuel composition, compliance with waste hierarchy, environmental management and potential risks to human health and the environment including emissions to air, noise, disposal of fly ash, the wastewater treatment system, and operational contingencies.”

Members of the community have until 27 June to lodge submissions to the EPA.

The application and a summary of it can be found here.

VIC EPA Governance Board appointments finalised

The remaining appointments to the new Victorian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) governing board have been announced by Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio.

The board members have been selected for their skills and knowledge of their roles and will be key to implementing the state government’s EPA reform agenda, according to the Victorian Government.

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Ms Cheryl Batagol will be chair of the governing board and will lead and eight-person board that includes:

  • Mr Greg Tweedly (Deputy Chair)
  • Professor Joan Ozanne-Smith
  • Mr Graeme Ford
  • Professor Rebekah Brown
  • Ross Pilling
  • Ms Monique Conheady
  • Ms Debra Russell.

Ms Batagol has been Chair of the EPA under the current governing structure since 2009. She brings more than 40 years of experience in waste management, water and environment sectors to the positions.

The Board will come into operation on 1 July and will lead the EPA in implementing its response to the Independent Inquiry into the EPA.

Ms D’Ambrosio said the Victorian Government is making sure the EPA is equipped with the people, powers and resources it needs to do its job and protect Victoria’s environment.

“This board has a fantastic cross section of experience and knowledge to help us implement our vital reforms to the EPA,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

EPA Victoria welcomes illegal dumping budget funds

Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria has welcomed the Victorian Government’s budget announcement of $9.1 million over four years to continue the work of its Illegal Dumping Strikeforce.

The budget also included $19.9 million in what the Victorian Government said in its budget papers will strengthen the EPA and ensure it’s working to help protect the state’s environment.

In other environmental areas, the budget contained $1.2 million for an air quality strategy, and other funds for Parks Victoria and climate change. The budget papers state that $14.5 million will be provided for funding to councils and the recycling industry to ensure the continuing kerbside collection of household recyclable waste, which appears to be a continuation of the funds announced in February.

EPA Chief Executive Officer Nial Finegan said the $9.1 million investment would enable EPA to continue tackling illegal waste disposal through targeted investigations, compliance activities, intelligence gathering and public information campaigns.

“Illegal dumping has significant impacts on human health and the environment, and costs Victorians around $30 million a year in clean up costs and lost landfill levy revenue,” Mr Finegan said.

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“The continued program will allow us to build on the knowledge and expertise gathered so far, increase our focus on prevention, and disrupt the business of illegitimate dumping through behaviour change and public information.”

The strikeforce program has been targeting the illegal dumping of construction and demolition waste, skip bin loads and waste tyres.

“Illegal dumping creates an eyesore and can contaminate the soil and nearby waterways, and the cost of the clean up is too often left to the community or landholders,” Mr Finegan said.

“Two thirds of EPA’s prosecutions every year are for illegal waste dumping, and over the last two financial years, EPA’s Illegal Dumping Strikeforce has inspected hundreds of sites for illegal dumping and issued more than 170 clean up notices.”

EPA’s clean up notices are legally enforceable orders to remove dumped waste for proper disposal, and EPA fines start in the thousands of dollars and can go as high as hundreds of thousands if the case goes to court.

 

 

National Plan for PFAS released to protect environment and health

The heads of all state and territory EPAs and the Federal Government have released a National Environment Management Plan for PFAS (per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) to help protect the environment and human health.

PFAS are a group of manufactured chemicals which have historically been used in firefighting foams and other industrial and consumer products for decades, according to EPA Victoria. PFAS can also be found in soil, surface water and groundwater in urban areas, and some PFAS are being phased out around the world as they may pose a risk to human health and the environment.

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The National Environment Management Plan for PFAS describes how to properly deal with and clean up contaminated sites, how to best treat soil and waste, and methods for safely destroying the chemicals.

PFAS can make products heat resistant, non-stick, water repellent, and weather and stain resistant.

Prior to the plan, there was no consistent guidance or direction for communities that had been affected by PFAS.

Environment Protection Authority Victoria’s Executive Director Assessments, Tim Eaton, said PFAS chemicals have been used in a range of products in the past, including pesticides, stain repellents and fire-fighting foams.

“PFAS compounds have had a wide range of uses because they resist heat, chemical and biological degradation, and are very stable,” Mr Eaton said.

“There is now growing concern worldwide about the effects of PFAS on our health and on animals and plants, because of that chemical stability and the fact that they easily enter the environment, moving into soil, creeks, rivers and lakes. We know there are sites with PFAS contamination, so we are working collectively to manage them.”

The plan can be read here.

EPA Victoria warns of tyre stockpile fire hazard

Environment Protection Authority Victoria has issued a warning to landowners about the flammable risk of tyre stockpiles over summer and its consequences on human health.

Chris Webb of the EPA’s Illegal Waste Disposal Strikeforce said summer grass fires and bushfires are dangerous enough without stockpiles of unused waste tyres waiting in their path.

“Tyre fires are very hard to control and generate hazardous smoke that can cause an even greater health risk to the community, through the inhalation of particles and chemicals,” Mr Webb said.

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“It’s a threat to the landholder’s livelihood and the homes and safety of people who live nearby, whether they are on neighbouring farms or in a nearby town or suburban area,” he said.

“Farmers do have some practical uses for old tyres like holding down tarps, but many tyre stockpiles are just a fire hazard and a threat to the environment.”

EPA Victoria noted old tyres shouldn’t be used for erosion control or around new trees, it is illegal to burn or dump them. If left for long enough, they begin to decay and can pollute the soil and groundwater.

In 2015, EPA introduced tighter controls for waste tyre storage, prompting a significant reduction in the number of known stockpiles across Victoria, but there are more stockpiles out there.

The regulations require any stockpile of more than 40 tonnes or 5000 waste tyres to be licensed, with requirements for on-site firefighting resources, limits on the size of the piles and minimum distances between and around them.

EPA’s Illegal Waste Disposal Strikeforce is tackling the problem of stockpiles of unused waste tyres, encouraging owners to help to protect the community by making sure their stockpile complies with the regulations, or by legally disposing of the tyres.

Some waste tyres go to landfill, but many can be recycled, and there are several recycling companies in Victoria. When EPA recently took over a long-standing stockpile of approximately one million waste tyres at Stawell, most of those tyres were recycled.  EPA is now pursuing the stockpile owners through the courts.

“When necessary, EPA can exercise legal power to order that an illegal tyre stockpile be removed for appropriate disposal, fine the owner or take the case to court, but we would much rather that landholders looked at the regulations, and either made sure their stockpile was legal or disposed of it responsibly,” Mr Webb said.

To view the EPA tyre regulations and CFA/MFB guidelines for the safe storage of tyres, visit their website. 

If any member of the community suspects someone is illegally stockpiling tyres or taking them to a place that cannot lawfully accept waste tyres, they are encouraged to contact EPA’s 24-hour pollution hotline on 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).