VIC EPA approves expanded Alcoa Point Henry landfill

EPA Victoria has issued a Works Approval for two new landfill cells to accept waste from the decommissioning and remediation of Alcoa’s Point Henry premises.

Alcoa operated an aluminium smelter and rolling mill at the site for 51 years between 1963 and 2014, when the final operation of the rolling mill ceased.

Alcoa has commenced physical decommissioning, environmental remediation, and long term planning for future use of the site.

As part of the decommissioning and remediation, Alcoa proposes to construct containment cells, as part of an overall strategy that reduces the number of landfills on the site from three to two.

The Works Approval allows the construction of two new cells at the Moolap landfill, but limits them to only accepting waste generated at the Point Henry premises.

“The cells are designed to contain industrial wastes including dross dust, soil, sediment, clay, coke, salt pond residue, carbon spent anodes, concrete and pavers from the decommissioned plant, and the contents of the existing CPL landfill on the Point Henry premises,” an EPA Victoria statement reads.

“The two new cells at the Moolap landfill will be above ground and contain 90,000 cubic metres of waste. They are expected to be filled, capped and rehabilitated by mid-2022.”

Under the Works Approval, the EPA also requires the project to include an independant environmental audit of the site, lining of the cells, environmental monitoring, with reporting to the EPA and plans for prevention and control of fire, litter and weeds.

Along with the Works Approval, the proposal will also require planning permission from the City of Greater Geelong Council and an EPA licence before the landfill can begin operation.

Related stories:

Industry responds to QLD waste levy deferment

The Queensland Government has announced a six-month deferment to the waste levy increase that was set to begin on July 1 2020.

The levy has been deferred for six months due to the impact of COVID-19 on businesses operating within the waste sector in QLD.

The announcement has been welcomed by the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR), whilst Waste Recycling Industry Association Queensland (WRIQ) stated in a members notice that the timing of the landfill level deferral is disappointing.

The six-month deferment will see the waste levy remain at $75 per tonne for general waste, and $105 and $125 per tonne for regulated wastes until 31 December 2020.

QLD joins the ranks of NSW and Victoria, being the first state movers in providing some form of levy relief, the former by way of deferring waste levy payments for the foreseeable future and the latter deferring its 1 July 2020 levy increase to 1 January 2021. WA’s waste levy has also been frozen for the 2020-21 year.

The move has been praised by the WMRR and CEO Gayle Sloan has credited the QLD government “proactivity in deferring the levy increase and the Department of Environment and Science is to be commended for listening to, and considering, the very real concerns of the industry”.

“As industry continues to face financial and operational challenges related to the pandemic, WMRR is encouraged to see jurisdictions taking a commonsense approach towards costs and regulatory pressures placed on our essential industry,” Sloan said.

“In deferring the levy increase, operators and their customers may have some financial respite while continuing to focus on the job at hand, which is keeping our services operating while ensuring the safety of our staff and community.”

Sloan stated that the WMRR has recommended that only the first proposed levy increment in 2020 be deferred to provide relief to operators and their customers facing financial challenges and all later increments should continue as planned in order to safeguard ongoing investments that will build the  industry.

WRIQ CEO, Mark Smith, received advice from DES on the Government’s decision to defer proposed landfill levy price increases last Friday evening on May 29, and believes the decision will impact QLD businesses and clients differently within the industry.

“This 11th hour notification is disappointing, as it provides our members and industry with minimal time to adapt and notify their supply chain of pricing impacts,” Smith said.

In response, WRIQ is collating general legal advice with WRIQ partner, Minter Ellison, to form advice and resources for its members, set to be available on Thursday June 4.

“The market works best when there is market certainty. Changing market conditions 4 weeks out from proposed increases will impact businesses differently. However in the age of Covid I recognise government need to make decisions that are best suited for the whole of Queensland,” Smith said.

He added that Post Covid, WRIQ would like to sit down with Government to determine a minimum timeframe in the event of future pricing changes.

“I respect that changes to landfill levies need to run a particular process but businesses also need to run to notify their clients and customers of the pricing changing. It would be great to bring both these processes into alignment,” he said.

The WMRR is also encouraging all future engagements with state governments.

“It is WMRR’s hope that SA will not continue to turn a blind eye to industry’s concerns and will follow in its neighbours’ footsteps by offering levy relief to operators,” Sloan said.

Last year the SA government implemented a 40 per cent levy increase, which Sloan stated was a shock announcement “with no industry consultation whatsoever and continues to place significant strain on existing projects and operations”.

“Now is the time to ease these financial pressures on operators so that we can maintain a viable industry and importantly, assist in the rebuilding of a post-COVID economy,” she said.

According to advice from DES to landfill operators, business systems and processes need to be reviewed to ensure the QLD deferral is incorporated.

“Your current levy obligations remain, including waste measurement and recording, monthly data returns and monthly invoice payments, so continue these as-normal,” the DES advised to landfill operators.

Related Stories:

More teeth, more traction and compaction: GCM Enviro

With sustainable landfills representing a critical competent of the waste management ecosystem, GCM Enviro details the importance of high-density compaction. 

Basic supply and demand economics, paired with resource recovery infrastructure shortages and still developing technologies, means sustainable landfill management remains a critical feature of any well-functioning waste management system.

To that end, GCM Enviro, a leading distributor of waste management equipment, is investing heavily in sustainable and efficient landfill compactors.

As the exclusive Australian supplier of Tana landfill compactors, Susie Solbrandt, GCM Marketing, says GCM are well placed to provide high compaction machinery that saves landfill airspace and reduces leachate generation.

This is highlighted by the company’s introduction of Tana’s specialised high-density drums to the Australian market in 2019.

“Tana’s high-density drums can be fitted to all Tana E Series Landfill Compactors, facilitating higher compaction rates via crushing force. The drums improve traction and efficiency, thereby increasing an operator’s ability to compact waste in shorter intervals,” Susie says.

With 14 teeth per 11 rows, compared to the standard Tana BigFoot drum’s 10 teeth per row, the high-density drums provide greater material engagement for each drum rotation.

This Susie says, shreds waste into more uniform sized particles, with 154 crushing feet per drum, compared to a standard drum’s 110 feet.

Susie adds that the new high-density drums produce a compaction capacity of 1150 metres cubed per hour, compared to the standard drum’s 950.

According to Susie, GCM sold a new Tana E520 Landfill Compactor to a major New Zealand waste operator in late 2019. Since running the updated high-density drum, have noticed significant compaction improvements.

Operating one of New Zealand’s largest landfills in North Waikato, Hampton Downs, the company have extensive experience in the design, construction and operation of modern landfills and cleanfills.

Susie says reports from the company show the new high-density drums are low maintenance, with superior climbing efficiency and fuel burn.

She adds that with fewer passes, simplified maintenance and good drivability, Tana E Series Compactors work to save expensive landfill airspace.

“GCM’s philosophy is to maintain constant dialogue between manufacturers and clients to ensure equipment design is governed by market requirements, particularly in the harsh climatic conditions we experience,” Susie says.

“Ultimately, our objective is to enable customers to increase revenue with cutting edge technology, allowing them to generate value from waste.”

Related stories:

Southern Grampians Shire launches FOGO

Residents in Victoria’s Southern Grampians Shire will soon receive a third, lime green lidded bin, as council prepares to introduce its compulsory FOGO collection service.

Council resolved to introduce the service to all townships currently in the compulsory kerbside waste service zones in September 2019, with bins to be rolled out in the coming weeks. Residents will also receive a kitchen caddy with their bin.

Southern Grampians Shire Mayor Chris Sharples said the service sees council ahead of the curve when it comes to processing organic waste.

“We made the decision to introduce the three-bin system to increase our effectiveness in processing our organic waste following a series of audits,” he said.

“Since resolving on this decision in September last year, the state government has now mandated that all councils introduce a compulsory FOGO service as part of its circular economy policy.”

According to Mr Sharples, more than 50 per cent of waste in Southern Grampians Shire bins is organic food and garden waste.

“This material breaks down without air and releases harmful greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. With the introduction of the compulsory FOGO bin, this organic material will be composted and returned to farm land to improve soil health,” he said.

“Importantly, it also saves council on costs associated with landfill charges, EPA levies and transport costs.”

Bins will be collected fortnightly from July 1 2020, on the alternate week to recycling. In spring however, bins will be collected weekly to account for excess garden waste produced at that time.

Related stories:

Works begin to support $13M Toowoomba waste facility

Toowoomba Regional Council will commence road widening works to support the construction of its new $13.9 million Tier 2 Kleinton Waste Management Facility.

Toowoomba Regional Council Waste Chair Rebecca Vonhoff said the project involves the widening of 300 metres of Kleinton School Road adjacent to the waste transfer facility.

“The current waste facility will keep operating while road construction is underway,” she said.

Ms Vonhoff said the Kleinton Waste Management Facility will be the fifth project delivered under council’s Waste Infrastructure Plan, and will provide environmental benefits to the area including increased opportunities for recycling.

“This design of the new state-of-the-art facility will cater for the northern region population growth expected over the next 25 years,” she said.

“The new facility, expected to be completed in 2021, will modernise council’s network of waste facilities and maintain our high service level where 98 per cent of the region’s population lives within a 20-minute drive of a waste management facility.”

According to Ms Vonhoff, the rehabilitation of council’s existing landfill site will also form part of the overall project, including the capping of the old landfill.

Related stories: 

Central Coast reopens waste facilities

Residents on the Central Coast in NSW are able to utilise the Woy Woy and Buttonderry waste management facilities following its closure due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Although access remained open for waste management vehicles, private waste contractors and small business customers, the public were prohibited from entering all three Central Coast Council waste facilities.

A Central Coast Council spokesperson said all three facilities were closed to the public in line with NSW Police advice and the NSW Government’s Public Health Order of March 29.

“In response to the developing situation with COVID-19, the NSW Government later issued a fact sheet clarifying the management of waste and recycling facilities,” the spokesperson said.

“As a result, the restriction on public access to the Woy Woy and Buttonderry waste management facilities was lifted.”

The Kincumber facility remains closed due to ongoing maintenance work.

To reduce the risk of COVID-19 in the community, limit the need for residents to travel, minimise contact and ensure services are still being provided, Council has changed some operations at its waste management facilities.

Council is encouraging all residents to utilise their three bin and bulk collection services and comply with requirements around non-essential travel.

CEO Central Coast Council, Gary Murphy, said Council’s priority is the health of staff and the Central Coast community and continuing to deliver essential services.

“I want to assure the community that all our essential services are not interrupted, and this includes water and sewer; collection and management of waste,” he said.

Essential services across the region continue, including work on its rolling program to inspect and replace critical sewage sewage to improve the performance and reliability of the network.

More than $2 million dollars has been earmarked for the project this financial year that sees existing pipes rehabilitated with structural relining to extend their service life by up to 50 years or replacing end-of-design-life equipment.

“We manage an extensive sewer network with 2,649 kilometres of sewer pipelines across the region as well as eight sewage treatment plants and more than 320 sewage pumping stations,” Council spokesperson said.

“We are using innovative techniques to rehabilitate damaged sewer pipelines during the work.”

Council starts by clearing the pipe and assessing the conditions of sewer lines via CCTV camera, then insert a liner to reinforce the existing pipe structure that seals any leaks, significantly reducing the risk of future damage, particularly from tree roots.

“This technique reduces the need to excavate, minimising disruption to services during works and reduces repair costs,” Council spokesperson said.

“This essential maintenance on local sewer infrastructure will improve asset and network reliability, lower the risk of environmental discharges and help ensure we have adequate and sustainable infrastructure to meet future demand.”

Related stories: 

WARR facilities fast-tracked under NSW acceleration program

The West Nowra Landfill expansion and Visy’s Dry Recyclables Facility have been named in the first tranche of NSW Planning System Acceleration Program projects.

Earlier this month, the NSW Government announced it would fast-track planning processes for State Significant Developments – including waste management facilities – to keep the development sector moving through the COVID-19 crisis.

The first set of fast tracked projects were announced this week, with the $191 million West Nowra Landfill expansion set to see the construction of six additional landfill cells. Furthermore, Visy’s new $23.8 million facility will have the capacity to process up to 155,000 tonnes of dry kerbside recyclables a year.

Additional fast-tracked projects include the construction of a resource recovery facility facility in Penrith, waste management upgrades to Horsley Park’s Brickworks plant and Snowy 2.0 main works.

NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes also released the NSW Government’s Priority Projects Criteria – a set of guidelines that will determine which development projects are fast-tracked through the program.

To be considered for a fast-tracked assessment, the development application or rezoning must already be in the system, deliver a public benefit, demonstrate an ability to create jobs during construction and once complete, be able to commence construction within six months.

A total of 24 projects have been identified in the first round of fast-tracked assessments, which according to Mr Stokes, will inject $7.54 billion into the state’s economy.

“It’s important to note that this is not a greenlighting exercise, the same stringent checks, balances and community consultation that ensures transparency, public benefit and merit-based assessment of projects remain,” he said.

Despite general support for the program, Local Government NSW (LGNSW) has warned that failure to include environmentally sustainable waste and recycling measures in the criteria is a missed opportunity, particularly in light of the “rapidly approaching” national export ban.

LGNSW President Linda Scott said it was encouraging to see waste management and recycling facilities accounting for four of the 24 fast-tracked projects. However, she said the logical next step would have been to embed recycling principles in the actual fast-tracking criteria.

“Minister Stokes’ announcement is a missed opportunity to begin to create a state in which home-grown recycling and sustainable, smart waste management is built into everything we do,” Ms Scott said.

“It would have sent a very clear planning message: we’re going to do things better from now on, and we need to be working together to ensure some lasting and sustainable good comes out of these difficult times.”

Despite this, Ms Scott said local government supports the principled focus on the creation of jobs to address the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the short-to-medium-term.

“Councils certainly welcome a commitment of state government resources to help free up blockages in the planning approval pipeline,” she said.

“LGNSW has long argued that the NSW Government has a key role to play in addressing the ‘hidden’ approval delays which occur when other state agencies are required to sign off on a project.”

Ms Scott added that it is important to ensure that short-term responses and system reforms do not undermine transparency and good planning principles, or encourage poor quality development that would cost the communities dearly in future years.

“We are calling on the government to guarantee a stronger role for council-led Local Strategic Planning Statements, and guarantee they will play a key role in assessing overall strategic merit,” she said.

“There will need to be further consultation with councils to ensure this fast-track program really does deliver for the people of NSW and the public good, rather than simply pouring money into the pockets of developers.”

Related stories:

Degraded SKM waste to be re-located in SA

Commingled recyclables stored by SKM Recycling in South Australia have become too degraded to be recycled with currently available technology, according to an independent waste expert.

South Australian Environment Minister David Speirs said the material will be moved to a landfill cell at Inkerman and recovered if appropriate technology and infrastructure becomes available.

“SKM was made insolvent in July 2019, leaving more than 10,000 tonnes of commingled and PET materials at Wingfield and Lonsdale,” Mr Speirs said.

“All avenues to recycle the materials were explored but unfortunately there were no other viable options in the immediate future.”

Mr Speirs said leaving the material stored at the Wingfield and Lonsdale sites is unacceptable, as it will continue to deteriorate.

“Inkerman landfill has the capacity to receive and store the material in a separate part of the existing landfill cell until such time the infrastructure is available in South Australia to process the materials,” he said.

According to Mr Speirs, re-location requires an exemption under the Environment Protection (Waste to Resources) Policy 2010.

“South Australia is a nation leader when it comes to recycling and resource recovery, and I hope to see future innovation in this sector that will allow these materials to reprocessed,” he said.

Related stories:

Landfill levy waived for bushfire victims

Landfill levies have been waived for residents in bushfire affected areas across Victoria, following an announcement from state Premier Daniel Andrews.

“As Victorians begin returning to their homes and land following the recent bushfires, the state government will make sure people can dispose of their bushfire waste without paying the landfill levy,” Mr Andrews said.

“This is practical and immediate support for people who are undertaking the heartbreaking task of cleaning up their homes and properties.”

According to Mr Andrews, bushfire waste includes debris from homes, businesses, sheds, stock, fencing and equipment that has been damaged.

“The levy waiver will also make it easier for people to dispose of dead livestock,” he said.

The Victorian EPA will work with landfill operators and councils in fire-affected areas to apply for the exemption.

“If residents or business owners have any questions or concerns about bushfire waste clean up and disposal, they can contact EPA for further information,” Mr Andrews said.

The exemption follows similar measures in NSW, with the state government waiving the levy in bushfire natural disaster areas in November 2019.

NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean said thousands of people across NSW are reeling from the effects of the November bushfires, which are still burning.

“We know that the effects of these bushfires will be felt for months, and even years to come, and we hope that this streamlined waste process can provide a little relief for those coping with the effects of these horrible bushfires,” he said.

The NSW exemption will apply until 29 February 2020.

Related stories:

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: 

X