Toxic hospital waste attracts EPA fine

A shipment of hospital waste exposed to toxic chemicals has been secured and sent for proper disposal, during an investigation by the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA).

According to EPA Western Metropolitan Regional Manager Stephen Lansdell, the waste was found at a container depot in Altona.

“EPA officers found two shipping containers that had been sitting for more than two weeks at the premises of Melbourne Container Transport, in Kororoit Creek Rd,” he said.

“Inside, they found plastic-wrapped pallet loads of cardboard boxes and plastic containers carrying surgical masks, gowns, gloves and other items used by doctors when applying cytotoxic chemicals used in some cancer treatments.”

The EPA has fined the company $8261 for depositing industrial waste at a site that is not licensed to accept that type of waste.

“The contents of the containers were safely incinerated by a licensed company on the day they were opened for inspection,” Mr Lansdell said.

“While it was resolved without any hazard to people’s health, a case like this is disappointing because businesses have a clear responsibility to know the rules and do the right thing by the environment and the community.”

Under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Infringements Act 2006, the company has the right to have the decision reviewed, or alternatively to have the matter heard and determined by a court.

Related stories:

Waste to Energy Forum announces program updates

The Australian Waste to Energy Forum, one of the country’s most comprehensive waste events, returns to the Mercure in Ballarat 18-20 February 2020.

In its fifth consecutive year, the forum aims to provide a platform for all interested parties to discuss developments in Australia’s growing waste-to-energy (WtE) sector.

The theme for this year’s Australian Waste to Energy Forum, On the road to recovery, was selected to address two key areas: the application of waste hierarchy fundamentals; and changing perceptions about WtE facilities and their role within an integrated waste management strategy.

As in previous years, the event will run as a single stream, so all attendees can participate in all sessions. The aim is to provide a platform for discussion of challenges facing the industry, as well as showcasing latest technology and processes from Australia and around the world – both thermal and non-thermal.

Additionally, the forum will explore ways local government can co-operate with industry to develop appropriate infrastructure and deliver optimum waste services to their constitutes. Attendees will also hear case studies of projects that have successfully applied WtE technology.

Program overview:

The program features a range of speakers including Stephen Adamthwaite from EPA Victoria, who will present discuss WtE proposals, with particular reference to how proposals will fit under the new EP Act.

Trevor Evans, Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, will deliver the Minister’s Address via video, after an official opening from City of Ballarat Mayor Ben Taylor.

Toby Terlet, Veolia Kwinana Project Director, will then detail challenges faced by a WtE facility in Tyseley, UK, including major upgrade works at the same time as industrial action, heavy snow and a declining national public sector budget.

This keynote presentation will discuss how Veolia worked proactively through the challenges with City of Birmingham to further cement the successful long-standing partnership and resulting in a 5-year contract extension.

Johnny Stuen, City of Oslo Waste-to-Energy Agency Technical Director, will deliver the second keynote presentation: providing an overview of the waste management system in Oslo, volumes technology and development work.

Oslo has optical sorting facilities, one for biological treatment/biogas production, and two WtE plants. The commercial WtE plant is the bigger of the two, and has competed projecting a full-scale carbon capture plant at site, awaiting investment decision.

Mr Stuen will also address why and how the source sorting system works, providing a detailed overview of technology, concept and market work for the biological treatment of organic waste in the system. He will also address regulative processes, development processes and further work.

Attendees will also hear from DELWP’s Angela Hoefnagels, Sustainability Victoria’s Matt Genever, CSIRO’s Daniel Roberts, Recovered Energy’s Ian Guss and ResourceCo’s Henry Anning.

Other discussion topics include WtE in a Circular Economy, Anaerobic Digestion, License to operate, current project updates, project development considerations and future opportunities and developments.

The Forum will also provide an opportunity for organisations to gain visibility and exposure in an interactive conference environment, with a number of social events and networking functions.

For more information click here.

Image curtesy of Paul Benjamin Photography. 

Related stories:

VIC EPA approves Laverton WtE plant

The Victorian EPA has granted a works approval for a waste-to-energy (WtE) plant in Laverton North.

The facility, to be developed by Recovered Energy Australia, will process 200,000 tonnes of source-separated residual municipal solid waste each year.

According to an EPA statement, Recovered Energy Australia propose to deliver approximately 15 mega watts of electricity to the grid annually.

“EPA assessed the proposal against all relevant environmental policies and guidelines and looked at any potential environmental and human health impacts that could result from the facility,” the statement reads.

“The works approval is subject to conditions. These conditions include the requirement for an EPA-appointed auditor to review detailed design, and for further EPA consideration prior to finalising detailed plans.”

Conditions also require the facility to achieve an environmental performance equivalent to European standards.

Recovered Energy Australia has also secured a planning permit from Wyndham City Council to construct and operate the proposed facility, seperate from the EPA works approval.

“Once constructed, Recovered Energy Australia will not be able to operate the waste to energy plant until it obtains an EPA licence,” the statement reads.

Related stories:

VIC EPA extends battery plant consultation period

The Victorian EPA has extended its consultation period for a battery recycling plant works approval, due to a high level of local interest.

The consultation period has been extended to 52 days, with two extra information sessions held in January.

The development proposal, received from Chunxing Corporation, seeks to recycle the material into 28,000 tonnes of refined lead each year.

The proposal estimates 98 per cent of the lead, plastic and electrolyte (sulfuric acid) in batteries will be recycled.

According to the Chunxing Corporation application, Australia generates roughly 150,000 tonnes of used lead acid batteries a year, most of which is sent to four existing facilities.

The application highlights that of the four facilities, only one conducts secondary lead smelting to produce lead product.

“We believe such incomplete ‘recycling’ is unsustainable, and vulnerable to overseas demand and policy changes, similar to the export of kerbside recycling, which collapsed after China introduced its China National Sword Policy,” the application reads.

“We also see this low penetration of ‘full recycling’ in the market as an opportunity.”

Related stories:

flood clean-up

VIC EPA approves Loy Yang landfill expansion

The Victorian EPA has granted a works approval application for an extension to Latrobe City Council’s Hyland Highway Loy Yang Landfill.

According to an EPA statement, the proposed extension includes four new landfill cells within the premise’s current boundaries.

“Under the council’s proposal, landfilling will occur up to February 2033, consistent with the council’s planning permission,” the statement reads.

The EPA assessed the works approval application for potential environmental impacts such as dust, landfill gas, leachate, odour, litter issues and potential land, surface water and ground water contamination risks.

“The approval is subject to conditions, including demonstration it is needed in light of government policy and landfill airspace demands at the time prior to the construction of the new landfill cells,” the statement reads.

Under the approval, council is required to develop and implement odour, groundwater, surface waste and landfill gas monitoring and management plans.

Additionally, council will have to engage an environmental auditor to prepare an environmental audit report before the construction of new landfill cells or a leachate collection pond.

The facility has been operating for 10 years at its current location under EPA Licence No. 25565. It is permitted to dispose of putrescible waste, solid inert waste, asbestos of domestic origin and shredded tyres to be deposited to land.

Related stories: 

VIC EPA to assess battery recycling plant proposal

The Victorian EPA is assessing a works approval application for a battery recycling plant with the capacity to process 50,000 tonnes of used lead acid batteries each year.

The development proposal, received from Chunxing Corporation, seeks to recycle the material into 28,000 tonnes of refined lead each year.

The proposal estimates 98 per cent of the lead, plastic and electrolyte (sulfuric acid) in batteries will be recycled.

According to the Chunxing Corporation application, Australia generates roughly 150,000 tonnes of used lead acid batteries a year, most of which is sent to four existing facilities.

The application highlights that of the four facilities, only one conducts secondary lead smelting to produce lead product.

“We believe such incomplete ‘recycling’ is unsustainable, and vulnerable to overseas demand and policy changes, similar to the export of kerbside recycling, which collapsed after China introduced its China National Sword Policy,” the application reads.

“We also see this low penetration of ‘full recycling’ in the market as an opportunity.”

Chunxing Corporation intends to engage in ‘full recycling’ to produce lead ingot, a valuable commodity that is returned back to battery manufacturers.

“They plan to secure significant market volumes of used lead acid batteries that are currently partially processed and sent for export, and believe the extra market capacity our plant will provide will lead to the federal Department of the Environment an Energy rejecting some export permits in favour of in-country full recycling options,” the application reads.

Chunxing Corporation’s proposed plant will use a six step process including physical separation, waste acid processing for value added fertiliser, smelting and desulfurisation.

The EPA will assess the proposal against all relevant environmental policies and guidelines and consider any potential environmental and human health impacts that could result from the proposed development, including, but not limited to, air emissions, noise and residual waste management.

Related stories:

EPA and DELWP review EP Act submissions

The Victorian EPA and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) are encouraged by the level of interest in Victoria’s new environmental regulations and standards, after receiving more than 300 public submissions.

EPA Chief Executive Cathy Wilkinson said feedback has been positive, with suggestions from industry, business and community members on how to improve the regulations.

“It’s fantastic that so many individuals and organisations have taken the time to have their say,” Dr Wilkinson said.

“Their comments will ensure the regulations and standards are sound and robust.”

Taking effect 1 July 2020, the Environment Protection Amendment Act 2018 represents the most significant change to Victoria’s environmental regulatory regime since the introduction of the Environment Protection Act 1970.

Significant changes include a general environmental duty, which requires all Victorian undertaking an activity with potential environmental and human health risk to identify and implement reasonably practical means to eliminate or minimise risk.

Additional changes include higher penalties for illegal dumping, a public register, improved information sharing with other agencies and third party community rights.

DELWP Executive Director Mark Rodrigues said consultation engaged EPA Industry Reference and Community Groups and local and state government stakeholders.

“We’ve had a great response to the consultation process and this feedback will be invaluable in helping us shape this important legislation to better protect our environment,” Mr Rodrigues said.

According to an EPA statement, the EPA and DELWP are now reviewing all submissions, and have committed to responding through the Victorian Government’s Response to Public Comment Report in 2020.

“Feedback that goes beyond the scope of public comment on proposed regulations and standards will be considered in light of EPA’s broader transformation program,” the statement reads.

The Response to Public Comment Report will be released on the Engage Victoria website in early 2020.

Related stories:

New project testing recycled materials for road safety

VIC EPA increases occupation of glass recycling facility

The Victoria EPA has increased its occupation of a glass recycling facility in Coolaroo, after stepping in to remove stockpile hotspots in October.

The action comes after a spot fire demonstrated that an industrial waste stockpile was not being appropriately managed to protect community and environment.

According to an EPA statement, recent stockpile monitoring has detected an increase in temperatures across areas that remain a concern to the EPA.

Since 25 October, the EPA has removed over 1100 truckloads of waste from the site, representing 10 per cent of the contaminated waste where hotspots are occurring.

“Works to remove hotspots and contaminated glass will continue for some months, with an estimated volume of 50,000 cubic metres of waste to remove,” the statement reads.

EPA Taskforce Manager Danny Childs said the EPA would continue to use all regulatory powers available to ensure hotspots are removed from the site as soon as possible.

“EPA will continue to undertake this work to reduce the risk to local communities and the environment,” Mr Childs said.

A regulatory oversight group consisting of EPA, MFB, WorkSafe and Hume City Council will continue a coordinated, multi-agency approach to drive compliance across the site.

Related stories:

VIC EPA to assess WtE proposal

The Victorian EPA is assessing a works approval application for a waste to energy facility in Dandenong South.

The proposed facility, to be operated by Great Southern Waste Technologies, seeks to utilise gasification technology to process 100,000 tonnes of municipal solid and commercial and industrial waste each year.

According to an EPA statement, if built, the facility will deliver approximately 7.9 mega watts of electricity to the grid.

“EPA will assess the proposal against all relevant environmental policies and guidelines and look at any potential environmental and human health impacts that could result from the proposed development, including, but not limited to, air emissions, odour, noise, greenhouse gas emissions, wastewater treatment and discharge and reuse of wastewater or residual ash,” the statement reads.

In its works approval application, Great Southern Waste Technologies states that the facility will use proven technology to recover energy and export it into the grid as base load power, available to both commercial and residential customers.

“Utilising this valuable resource through recovery of the energy offers a sustainable improvement to waste management services currently being provided in Dandenong South, whilst reducing the overall greenhouse gas emissions and the potential environmental impacts associated with landfilling,” the application reads.

Submissions are open until 8 January 2020.

Related stories:

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER

JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
Close