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Hazardous Waste Technical Group - 50th meeting

Thursday 21 February 2002
8.30 am – 12.00 pm
Arthur Streeton Room, Level 2, Rydges Capital Hill
Cnr National Circuit and Canberra Avenue, FORREST, ACT 2603

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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
Mr Stephen Moore

Co-opted expert

Mr James Johnson

Observers

Dr Peter Brotherton

Secretariat

Mr Cliff Lloyd
Dr Geoff Thompson
Dr Greg Rippon

Apologies

Dr Paul Brown

Agenda Item 1. Draft Minutes of the 49th meeting

(a) Draft Minutes

(b) Draft Minutes with amendments proposed by Tomago

1. Amendments were made to Paragraphs 7, 11, 12, 13, and 17. Comments on the draft Minutes, proposed by Tomago, and a note added in proof by the Secretariat, were considered under item 2, Matters arising. The draft Minutes, as amended, were accepted.

Agenda Item 2. Matters arising

2. Neill Stacey and Peter Scaife provided updated contact details.

3. Peter Brotherton requested that the possible import of PCB wastes be a standing item under agenda item 4 because of concerns about any such proposal. Geoff Thompson advised that the Technical and Policy Groups would receive regular updates of any proposals to import PCB waste.

4. In para 13 (g) of the draft Minutes of the 49th meeting, the fluoride content figure of 7-8% had been provided by SELCA. The Tomago level was 8-10%. Based on the SELCA throughput, 8,000 tonnes would have little effect on the overall average.

5. Data on fluoride content, in para 13(g), had been provided to indicate that the final level of fluoride in the slag was minimal. It calculated to ~3.5mg/kg of slag produced.

6. Para 13(m) recorded that SPL was classified as 10.03.06 in Europe. A subsequent check had indicated that category 10.03.06 of the European Waste Catalogue contains "used carbon strips and fireproof materials from electrolysis". Category 10.03.07 contains "spent pot linings". Also, listing in the Catalogue does not indicate whether a waste is hazardous or not. The European Waste Catalogue is a reference list providing a common terminology in order to improve the efficiency of waste management activities. It does not prejudice the list of hazardous wastes. That is, all wastes, whether hazardous or not, are listed in the Catalogue.

7. In regard para 13(n), there was some confusion regarding the SPL on the one hand and the SELCA product on the other. Tomago had tried to indicate that the material could be considered non-hazardous depending on how it was handled. The SPL was delivered in containerised bags and was kept dry. It was stored inside buildings at the SELCA facility and the product was bagged before sale and remained sealed when thrown into the ladle after tapping the electric arc furnace.

8. Clarification on storage areas for SPL at the SELCA facility had been obtained following the 49th meeting. A map of the premises indicated storage areas classified as final products, wastes and mixed areas. There was storage space for approximately 18, 000 m3 of final product, 11, 000 m3 of waste and 7,000 m3 for either final product or waste.

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

(a) Permit report for previous twelve months

9. The group asked that the permit table be restructured to separate export and import proposals under the heading "Applications received but not resolved"

10. Peter Brotherton queried the description of the application from BHP Billiton. It was not clear what the material was. Geoff Thompson said that the material was jarosite and this would be added to the description.

Agenda Item 4. Technical issues arising from applications and inquiries

(a) Proposed export of diethylaluminum chloride/heptane mixture

11. This item would be removed from the agenda because no action had been taken for more than a year. Peter Brotherton undertook to try and locate a recent press report regarding an alternative use for this material.

(b) Proposed export of spent potlinings (SPL)

12. The meeting received a presentation from Tomago Aluminium Company and noted the points described below.

13. Quantities of SPL stored had increased significantly because large number of pots had failed recently. Storage capacity was now at 35,000 tonnes and would be exhausted by the end of 2003.

14. Three shipments to Italy were proposed. One application had been submitted for 8,200 tonnes and two similar applications were foreshadowed.

15. A local treatment option was being pursued to produce a high-carbon product for use as a fuel in the cement industry. A process had been trialled on a pilot scale, involving crushing, screening, addition of lime and passing through a low temperature kiln to destroy cyanide. Tests indicated that leachate requirements could be achieved through the addition of lime.

16. In general, usage of SPL in the cement industry was limited by sodium rather than fluoride. In preparing the product for the cement industry, the objective of treatment would be to reduce cyanide content to avoid worker concern with the material, and to tie up leachable fluoride so that the material would be safe to transport and would satisfy EPA requirements so that it would not be classified as a hazardous waste. A copy of the MSDS would be provided.

17. In response to the Department of the Environment and Heritage request for information regarding each and every facility that used SELCA's material, it was noted that the company supplied 21 electric arc furnaces and 6 cement factories throughout Italy but exact details were not yet available. There might also be other potential customers.

18. The SELCA process was similar to the process being investigated locally by Tomago but did not include the destruction of cyanide. SELCA heated SPL to 3000C and this was not sufficient to destroy cyanide.

19. Some data was available for a specific steel mill and indicated that the majority of the fluoride ended up in dust that had to be disposed of as a hazardous waste (it contained heavy metals). Compared to other sources, fluorine introduced from the Selca recarburizer product was negligible although in general, the amount of fluoride was being reduced in the industry. The question of fluorine attacking refractory linings in steel production was considered to be a non-issue.

20. In response to the Department of the Environment and Heritage letter of 5 July 2001 asking about the environmental soundness of the export proposal, no documented information was available from the Italian authorities at present. The Italian authorities had been advised of the proposal and no objections had been raised.

21. The list of wastes in the European Waste Catalogue (EWC) would be updated within 60 days to make it clearer that SPL was a hazardous waste. SELCA would advise suppliers of SPL to classify this waste as hazardous by using the code 16.11.01, even though the concentration of hazardous substances might be lower than the legal limits. This would not affect SELCA as the material was already being dealt with as a hazardous waste and the plant was certified to treat this waste.

22. Broad specifications for SELCA's product would be included in the report but not the detailed specification required by each customer.

23. SELCA was in the process of accreditation to ISO 14001 but the certificates had not yet been obtained. SELCA was already accredited under ISO 9001. The meeting requested copies of the certificates.

24. Tomago recognised that the Ausmelt process was now available but remained concerned about capital costs and the fact that the process still resulted in a waste that went to final disposal.

25. The meeting noted that there were environmental advantages with processes where materials were used in production processes rather than being sent to landfill. Although some energy was recovered from waste in the Ausmelt process, the carbon was used only to recover fluoride as part of the smelting process, not to replace carbon in another production process.

26. The meeting noted that the next step was the provision of outstanding information to allow full assessment of the application.

27. The meeting asked about the additional shipments that had been foreshadowed. Tomago advised that timing was the issue. With 35, 000 tonnes on site and a process to deal with it locally being trialled, it would be some time before any local process was on line.

28. In response to a question whether cement plants had limits for fluoride, Tomago advised that research had shown that fluoride was a bonus in the process but there was a limit on sodium.

29. The meeting noted that the figure quoted by Tomago of 350kg of slag per tonne of steel seemed too high: it was similar to that for a blast furnace.

30. In reply to a question about the most recent figure of 35, 000 tonnes of SPL on site, which seemed to represent a steep rise, Tomago advised that SPL production figures were based on a pot life expectancy of up to 8 years. Because all pots in a potline started up at the same time (over a 2 month period), pot failures typically occurred in a cyclic fashion with an associated period of high activity in the 7 to 8 years life span. This rate of failure was not sustained in the other years. Tomago was currently going through one of these high activity periods and hence a higher production rate of SPL. Current storage capacity of up to 40,000 tonnes would last until the end of 2003.

31. In conclusion, the meeting noted that the forthcoming report from Tomago would answer some but not all of the questions. The waste/non-waste issue should be revisited. This would require consideration of whether there was evidence that the SELCA product contained leachable fluoride or cyanide above relevant concentration cut-offs.

(c)Letter re Guidance Paper April 2001-Zinc Ashes

The agenda paper was a letter from a company which argued that zinc ash from galvanising was not a hazardous waste, as described in Guidance Paper April 2001 – Hazard Status of Zinc and Copper Ash, Dross and Residues. This claim was indicative of the definitional difficulties surrounding not just zinc ash, but concentration cut-offs for metals in general. This emphasised that revision of the Guidance paper on concentration cut-offs was now urgent.

(d) Proposed export of copper alloy dross

33. A draft application had been received to export copper alloy dross, arguing that the prices offered by an Australian facility were not competitive with those offered in Europe, and that the local process was less efficient. This issue would be referred to the Technical Group at the appropriate time.

Agenda Item 5. Reports of international meetings

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

(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

Agenda Item 6. Work Program of the Technical Group

(a) History of the Technical Group

34. Discussion of these items was referred to the joint session of the Technical Group and the Policy Reference Group, held in the afternoon of 21 February 2002.

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

(a) Concentration Cut-off Levels for Metal Bearing Wastes under Australia's Hazardous Waste Act

35. The meeting considered a new draft of a revised Guidance paper. The use of the current ANZECC/ARMCANZ water quality criteria was not appropriate without a Dilution and Attenuation Factor because these values were set for safe concentrations in receiving waters. That is, dilution factors had already been applied and would need to be reinstated when going back to cut-off levels for leachate. It would be best to try and back-calculate leachate levels by reversing the process that had been used to derive the criteria and Jenny Stauber undertook to attempt this.

36. The meeting considered whether it would be better to simply set concentration cut-offs on the basis of percent composition, but concluded that the leachate test was more appropriate if used as intended.

37. Paragraphs 23–27 of the agenda paper needed editing to avoid repetition and Paragraph 29, which refers to the dilution of waste, should be strengthened to make it a prohibition. An example at the front of the paper might be useful and in general, the document needed to be made more user–friendly.

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

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 Wastes

38. There was no discussion of these items.

Agenda Item 12. Other Business

39. There was no other business

Agenda Item 13. Dates of next meetings

(a) Friday 22 March 2002, Melbourne.

(b) Friday 3 May 2002, Portland.

(c) Friday 21 June 2002.