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Hazardous Waste Technical Group - 49th meeting

Friday 16 November 2001
8.30 am - 4.30 pm
BCD Technologies, 2 Krypton Street, NARANGBA QLD 4504
and Ascot Room, Ground Floor, Powerhouse Boutique Hotel
Cnr Kingsford Smith Drive and Hunt Street, HAMILTON QLD 4007

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Minutes

Present:

Chair

Professor Paul Greenfield

Members

Dr Peter Di Marco
Dr Peter Nadebaum
Dr Robyn Eckersley
Dr Peter Scaife
Mr John Hogan
Dr Neill Stacey
Ms Diane Kovacs
Dr Jennifer Stauber

Co-opted expert

Mr James Johnson

Observers

Dr Peter Brotherton

Secretariat

Mr Cliff Lloyd
Dr Geoff Thompson
Dr Greg Rippon

Apologies

Dr Paul Brown
Mr Stephen Moore

Agenda Item 1. Draft Minutes of the 48th meeting

1. The draft Minutes of the 48th meeting had been cleared out of session because they were required as a material fact in a hearing before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. This concerned an application made by Australian Refined Alloys for a review of the decision to grant an export permit to Exide Australia Pty Ltd.

2. Two corrections had been made, to delete the word "was" in line 2 of paragraph 15 and to correct the percentage value in paragraph 27. As amended, the draft Minutes had been accepted.

Agenda Item 2. Matters arising

3. Peter Brotherton was concerned about the inconclusive ending of paragraph 34 but was reassured that this issue was still active and on the Group's agenda.

4. Members were reminded that although they were entitled to business class air travel, they could fly economy class if they chose. Members who preferred to fly economy class were asked to inform the Secretariat when bookings were made.

Agenda Item 3. Progress report on operation of the Hazardous Waste Act

(a) Permit report for previous twelve months

5. Since the previous meeting, only one export permit, one import permit, and one transit permit had been granted. No applications had been refused but a number were being processed.

6. The meeting noted that a transit permit had been granted for used lead-acid batteries to travel from Papua New Guinea to Indonesia via Brisbane, Newcastle, Port Kembla, Hobart, Melbourne and Port Pirie. There was no direct shipping available from Port Moresby to the Indonesian smelter. The Hazardous Waste Act required that the Minister be satisfied that carrying out the transit proposals would not pose a significant risk of injury or damage to human beings or the environment, but it did not require any scrutiny of the disposal facility in Indonesia.

7. The meeting was advised that an application had also been received to export copper cadmium cake to Korea Zinc Co of Seoul. Some members were familiar with this facility, which was modern and of good reputation.

Agenda Item 4. Technical issues arising from applications and inquiries

(a) Proposed export of diethylaluminum chloride/heptane mixture

8. There was nothing to report on this item.

(b) Proposed export of spent potlinings (SPL)

9. The meeting reviewed new correspondence about a proposed recovery method in which leaching with dilute caustic soda solution would be used to remove fluoride and cyanide from SPL. The Group had made comments on the proposed method at its 47th meeting, on 12 June 2001. The new correspondence contained a revised version of the proposal and a reply to the comments made at TG47.

10. On the proposed lead time of two years, the proponent argued that its experience with other wastes demonstrated that it had the ability to conduct similar waste management projects within even shorter times. The Technical Group was not persuaded on this point, especially in relation to spent potlinings. Other attempts to develop disposal methods for this particular waste had made very slow progress. A high capital expenditure was needed at the start and there was a high risk of failure.

11. Similarly, the Group remained concerned that the process produced a carbon product that contained 2.18% fluoride and gave a TCLP result of 80.3 mg/L. The Environment Protection Authority of New South Wales would classify such a material as an industrial (ie hazardous under the Hazardous Waste Act) waste because it leached more than 15 mg/L and contained more than 10,000 mg/kg fluoride. The Reynolds Metal Company plant at Gum Springs, Arkansas, had encountered great difficulty in getting the fluoride down low enough to meet a leachate guideline of 35 mg/L in water or 48 mg/L TCLP. By contrast, the Ausmelt process was able to produce a granulated vitreous material that leached less than 15 mg/L.

12. A presentation was then made to the meeting by representatives of Tomago Aluminium Company Pty Limited, who noted that their application had been made on 1 June 2001 and referred to the Group on 12 June 2001. As a result, additional information had been requested on 5 July 2001. Some information from the disposal facility, SELCA S.p.A., had been received on 21 September 2001, and an action to engage an environmental consultant to obtain further information, had been started on 28 September 2001.

13. From the presentation, the meeting noted the following points.

(a) SELCA utilises both fractions of SPL: the first cut consists mainly of carbon while the second cut is refractory material.

(b) The first cut is mixed with coal, scrap electrodes, cathodes, graphite, petroleum coke, metallurgical coke, lime, magnesium oxide and magma from initial crushing, screening and heating. The lime and magnesium oxide are used for fluxing but also tend to bind the fluoride. The material is mixed then dried using a rotary vessel fired by LPG and oil. The heating at 300 C is primarily for drying. The temperature is not high enough to destroy any cyanide.

(c) There is 25-30% of the first cut SPL in the final mixture, which is bagged and sold to the steel industry as a recarburizer under the trade name "Pluricarb P". SELCA prepares a range of consistent products, including recarburizers and desulfurizers, which meet the specifications of their customers in the steel industry.

(d) The SELCA system has not specifically been designed for SPL, but uses SPL as an input. The primary objective of the process is to produce carbon for the steel industry. The history of using SPL for this purpose goes back to at least the early 1990s, probably earlier, together with a range of other materials.

(e) SELCA uses about 120,000 tonnes of SPL per year. Not all of the material is used as steel recarburizer, but can also be used for other purposes as, for example, desulfurizers, fluidiser or foamers. A lot of the second cut SPL is used as an additive in mortar used as a refractory material in the floor of the electric arc furnace, where it lies just below the molten metal.

(f) About 15-20 kg of the recarburizer is used for each tonne of steel. Since it contains 25-30% SPL, we can say that about 5 kg SPL is used to make one tonne of steel. Therefore, if all the 120,000 tonnes were used as recarburizer, some 24 million tonnes of steel could be produced each year. This would be at least consistent with the size of the Italian steel industry.

(g) The fluoride content of the SPL was typically 7-8%, meaning that there is about 2% in the recarburizer material. In the steel making process, 70% of the fluoride reports to dust and 30% to slag. About 350kg of slag is produced per tonne of steel and is used as road base if it meets government specifications relating to heavy metal content. Otherwise it goes to landfill.

(h) Demand is such that SELCA is looking for other sources of SPL, such as old dumps and stockpiles, to maintain throughput.

(i) Four Internet references to European Community legislation were provided. These were not particularly helpful because they operated at a fairly general level. For example, Council Directive 1999/31/EC, on the landfill of waste, requires in Annex III that sampling of leachate must be done, but the text on the website does not specify concentration cut-off values for fluoride. Council Directive 94/67/EC, on the incineration of hazardous waste, sets out, in Article 7, concentration cut-offs for hydrogen fluoride in emissions, but these are specific to incineration plants. In general, there was less interest in European Community Directives than there was in the Italian legislation that implemented them.

(j) Several Italian regulations were also provided, but only in Italian. They included Legislative Decree 22/97, which defines the so-called Ronchi Law governing any operation to be carried out on whatever kind of waste. Changes and amendments for that year were set out in Legislative Decree 97/389.

(k) Two further Legislative Decrees apply to the disposal of wastewater from the industry. Legislative Decree 99/152 is supported by Legislative Decree 00/258. These Decrees provide the specification on limits that must be complied with for all the water coming from an industrial site. Republican Presidential Decree 88/203 deals with the emission of gaseous substances from industry into the atmosphere. It covers particulates and the Group requested information on fluorides as well.

(l) The SELCA facility is accredited to ISO9002. It has been assessed for ISO14001 and is awaiting the outcome. Certificate No. IGQ 9841 certifies that the quality system operated by SELCA is in compliance with ISO 9002:94 for the manufacture and sale of raw materials for steel mills (ferro-alloys, recarburizers and desulfurizers), excluding scrap. It was issued by the Instituto Italiano di Garanzia della Qualita per I Prodotti Metallurgici (IGQ) on 23 September 1998. The Group asked for a copy of the ISO9002 and ISO14001 accreditation conformance certificates.

(m) SELCA is authorised to recover non-hazardous wastes under Licence 36612 issued by Regione Lombardia in 1998. The Group asked why a permit was needed to recover non-hazardous wastes and Tomago advised that it was because SPL is classified as 10.03.06, a classification which is used for SPL all over Europe.

(n) The Group questioned how this material could be classified as non-hazardous considering its cyanide and fluoride content and hazardous characteristics such as liberation of dangerous gases when wet or production of toxic leachate if landfilled or stockpiled in the open. Tomago thought the main concern was the metals, not the fluoride, and noted that when bagged, there is essentially no risk as the bag and its contents would be thrown intact into the electric arc furnace.

(o) All process flows are under cover. The storage area for SPL is about 10,000 m3. The site is serviced by a rail link. The total length of the building is about 150 m. There is about 40,000-50,000 m3 of SPL, coke, and anthracite on site at any one time. Overall, with the development of increased capacity at the plant and attention to ISO14001, Tomago considered it quite a modern plant with significantly upgraded controls for the protection of human health and the environment.

(p) No wastewater was generated in the SELCA process itself because water was not used. Wastewater treatment is used, however, for stormwater falling on the site. Analytical results are given in a technical report.

(q) The factory is required to control dust emissions in the various operations and dust is collected in filters in baghouses. Conveyor belts are enclosed and there is de-dusting at transfer points.

(r) No OH&S data is available, although the Group asked for information on OH&S dust monitoring: for example, is there personnel or static monitoring? Personnel did not wear masks in normal operations.

(s) Some analytical details for release of fluoride in steelmaking, with and without SPL, were presented. Slag eluent contained 0.1-0.15 mg/L fluoride when SPL was not used and 0.15 mg/L fluoride when SPL was used. Air emissions contained less than 0.1 mg/Nm3 whether SPL was used or not. Values for fluoride in baghouse dust were not determined because the main concern was with heavy metals. The actual proportion of SPL in the recarburizer used in these tests was not clear and fluoride would also be present in other materials such as coal and recycled anode butts.

(t) The air emissions data (<0.1mg/Nm3)were compared to the value of 1 mg/Nm3 in the exit from the scrubber at the Tomago smelter. The Group asked for air emission criteria for fluoride at steel manufacturing sites.

14. The Group believed that the "SELCA" step was missing in Australia, ie the blending of SPL with other carbon sources to produce a material that can be sold as a blended product to the end user. They asked whether anyone was looking at making a fuel-type product in Australia. Tomago responded by describing large-scale trials that they were currently arranging. The details are classified as commercial-in-confidence, but the Group was impressed and encouraged and commented that there were clear signs of attitudinal change in some third parties.

15. Tomago advised that their current storage capacity would be full at the end of 2003. In the meantime, they considered that the export of the SPL would allow them a buffer in which to conduct trials, resolve technical difficulties, and work with other parties to develop a viable process in Australia.

16. Tomago considered their shipping options to be limited because SPL is classed as a dangerous good and must meet certain transport conditions. They prefer to move it from port to port with no transits, and not share cargo space with other cargo. This means making up a shipload of about 8,000 tonnes. To ship as a part-load, another compatible cargo would have to be found, but the options for this would be quite limited.

17. The Group still considered the fate of the fluoride as a core question. Members agreed, however, that it would be sufficient to consider one or two typical steel plants. From these plants, the consultant would need to obtain information on emissions (eg dust in the baghouse) and slag leachability. The Group expected that most of the electric arc furnace steel plants would be similar because they used the same types of inputs and processes.

18. The disposal operation consisted of recovery operation R13, accumulation of materials intended for any recovery operation, followed by R5, recycling/reclamation of inorganic materials other than metals and metal compounds. In accordance with the relevant clauses OECD Council Decision C(92)39/FINAL, Tomago was asked to identify each and every recovery facility where recovery operation R5 would be carried out. A comprehensive list of all facilities purchasing materials containing SPL from SELCA would be adequate if there were commercial sensitivities in providing more detailed information. Tomago was also asked to provide examples of the specifications for the recarburizer material, particularly any that related to the fluoride content. The second cut, or refractory material, would not need to be covered.

19. Although the Group considered storage at SELCA to be less important than the fate of the fluoride going to steel plants, some written advice on how the material was stored at SELCA was also needed.

20. The Group noted Tomago's advice that Australian steel makers were still very concerned about the fluoride content of SPL, not because of emissions to the environment but because it attacked their refractories. It would be useful to know how the Italian facilities managed this issue.

21. It was also relevant that northern Italy had a culture in which small companies built up a relationship with their clients. If these clients were also small companies, they would tend to be more sensitive to costs than larger ones.

22. A reply had been received from the International Iron and Steel Institute, advising that they had no information on the use of SPL in the steel industry, including the Italian electric arc furnace sector.

(c) Proposed export of aluminium alkyls

23. The Department of the Environment and Heritage was continuing to consult with the authorities in New South Wales and Victoria about licensed storage of aluminium alkyls, and with the industry about past exports of material.

(d) Export of used lead-acid batteries

24. The agenda paper was a Statement of Decision based on discussion at the 48th meeting of the Group, on 17 August 2001. Australian Refined Alloys had applied to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for independent review of this decision.

(e) Export of zinc ash

25. There had been no progress on this item since the last meeting.

(f) Possible import of PCB wastes

26. The referral lodged under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act by AusAid had been withdrawn until the project is more advanced and more details are known. The South Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP), the agency coordinating the project, had appointed a project officer. In the next phase of the project, there would be more full testing of the stockpiled waste oil to determine what would be treated as PCB-containing waste oil.

27. The movement of the waste to Australia or New Zealand for treatment would be easier now that the Waigani Convention had entered into force, on 21 October 2001.

Agenda Item 5. Reports of international meetings

(a) Basel Convention Technical Working Group, 14-15 January 2002, Geneva

(i). Draft Technical Guidelines on Recycling/Reclamation of NonFerrous Metals and Metal Compounds: revision 5 November 2001.

28. The new draft of the guidelines, dated 5 November 2001, incorporated comments received since TWG18 in June 2001. Because one set of comments proposed a substantial rewrite and inclusion of new material, the draft now has two options, A and B, so that TWG19 can consider which to adopt. Members were invited to send any specific comments on the draft paper to EA within two weeks.

(b) Basel Convention Joint meeting of Technical and Legal Working Groups, 16-17 January 2002, Geneva

(c) Basel Convention Legal Working Group, 18-19 January 2002, Geneva

(d) Workshop on environmentally sound management in the Basel Convention ("Dakar II"), Dakar (oral)

29. There was no discussion of these items.

Agenda Item 6. Work Program of the Technical Group

(a) History of the Technical Group

(b) Future work program

30. Members expressed a strong desire to take up these discussions again, particularly on waste minimisation, and would like to do this earlier rather than later. DEH would ask someone from DEH to attend who would be able to describe initiatives in waste minimisation taken by DEH. The Group also asked the Department of the Environment and Heritage to provide additional papers covering the South Pacific Regional Environment Program, Waigani and other international activities on persistent organic pollutants and prior informed consent.

Agenda Item 7. Criteria for separating hazardous from non-hazardous wastes

Agenda Item 8. Criteria for separating wastes from non-wastes

Agenda Item 9. Defining environmentally sound management

(a) Assessment of Environmentally Sound Management: An Example

(b) Assessment of Environmentally Sound Management in OECD Countries

(c) Guidelines for the Environmentally Sound Management of used and scrap personal computers

(d) Draft Technical Guidelines on recycling/reclamation of non-ferrous metals and metal compounds.

Agenda Item 10. Regional Centres

Agenda Item 11. Avoidance, minimisation and treatment of hazardous wastes

(a) Scoping study for National Environmental protection Council National Management of Clinical and Related Waste

31. There was no discussion of these items.

Agenda Item 12. Other Business

32. There was no other business

Agenda Item 13. Dates of next meetings

(a) Thursday 21 February 2002. Proposed joint meeting with the Policy Reference Group in the afternoon. Continue Technical Group meeting on 22 February 2002 if necessary. Canberra.

(b) Friday 22 March 2002.

(c) Friday 3 May 2002.