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Publications archive - Hazardous waste

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Hazardous Waste Technical Group - 51st meeting

Friday 22 March 2002
8.30 am – 4.30 pm
Bendigo Room, Hilton Melbourne Airport, Arrival Drive, Melbourne Airport

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Minutes

Present:

Chair

Professor Paul Greenfield

Members

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

Observer

Dr Peter Brotherton

Secretariat

Dr Geoff Thompson
Mr Andrew Inglis

Apologies

Dr Paul Brown
Mr James Johnson

Agenda Item 1. Draft Minutes of the 50th meeting

(a) Draft Minutes

1. Since the previous meeting, Tomago Aluminium Company (Tomago) had provided comments on Paragraphs 15, 19, and 30. The Group discussed these comments and made amendments to those paragraphs and also to Paragraphs 10, 16 and 34. The draft Minutes, as amended, were accepted

Agenda Item 2. Matters arising

2. As requested, a column for mobile phone numbers had been inserted into the current list of members, but the numbers themselves had not yet been added.

3. The meeting agreed to retain all three methods of receiving agenda papers, namely e-mail, the password-protected website, and hard copies on request.

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

(a) Permit report for previous twelve months

4. Three applications to import waste had been refused. In one instance, the applicant could not provide a valid written contract with the exporter and this was an essential requirement of the OECD control system. In another, the applicant did not explain why it was necessary to import household waste from Germany. In the third case, the New South Wales Land & Environment Court had imposed a development condition that prohibited the processing of imported waste.

Agenda Item 4. Technical issues arising from applications and inquiries

(a) Proposed export of diethylaluminum chloride/heptane mixture

5.Following the grant of an export permit to Basell Australia Pty Ltd, two other companies had expressed an interest in exporting similar quantities of this material. The Department of the Environment and Heritage had known about the stockpiles held by these two companies when the Basell permit was granted.

(b) Proposed export of spent potlinings (SPL)

6. The Group noted the agenda paper on the waste/non-waste status of SELCA's product. This issue had not been addressed but it was probably not critical in assessing the application for an export permit.

7. The Group noted two papers published by the Cement Industry Federation on the use of alternative fuels in the cement industry. The head of the Department of the Environment and Heritage Environment Quality Division, accompanied by senior staff, had visited the cement plant at Berrima on 8 March and had useful discussions with the Federation and Blue Circle Southern Cement on alternative fuels and other environmental issues.

8. The Group discussed a report prepared by URS Australia Pty Ltd on behalf of Tomago Aluminium Pty Ltd. Overall, the report provided the information requested but the presentation was not always clear and a number of details would need to be checked carefully. Questions to be checked included the following.

(a) What was meant by "traces of fluorides"?

(b) Where were the accreditation certificates and the information on the size of SELCA's stockpiles that had been requested?

(c) The mass balances appeared to focus only on the recarburizer. Did the figures add up properly?

(d) What happened to the Electric Arc Furnace dust, which would certainly be a hazardous waste by the lead content at least?

(e) What was the balance between dilution of waste on the one hand and material substitution on the other?

(f) It appeared that spent potlinings were not classified as a hazardous waste in Italy. Why was this so?

9. The Group asked the Secretariat to draft an assessment of environmentally sound management for the next meeting.

(c) Possible import of POPs wastes

Agenda Item 5. Reports of international meetings

(a) Basel Convention Legal Working Group, 21–22 May 2002, Geneva

(b) Basel Convention Technical Working Group, 23–24 May 2002, Geneva

(c) Basel Convention Joint meeting of the Technical and Legal Working Groups, 27–28 May 2002, Geneva

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

10. There was no discussion of these items.

Agenda Item 6. Work Program of the Technical Group

(a) History of the Technical Group

11. The Group discussed progress that had been made on the issues identified at the 33rd meeting, in December 1998, and noted the following points.

(a) Little work had been done on the management of hazardous waste in Australia.

(b) Progress had been made on the definition of hazardous characteristics through the revision of Information Paper Number 5: Setting Concentration Cut-off Levels for Metal Bearing Wastes under Australia's Hazardous Waste Act. Although this paper focused on metal-bearing wastes, the principles that it established could be applied to a wide range of hazardous wastes. For example, the hazard status of steel scrap contaminated with oil had been resolved by reference to State and Territory landfill criteria that set a general limit of 1 percent on contamination by oil.

(c) Little work had been done on information transfer and operational issues.

(d) Progress had been made on capacity for environmentally sound management, mostly through work on the application to export paragoethite to South Africa and earlier inquiries about the possible export of lead residues to Dubai.

(e) Little work had been done to identify current and future quantities of hazardous waste generated using Basel Convention definitions. These issues had been discussed in the joint meeting of the Hazardous Waste Technical Group and the Hazardous waste act policy reference group. The Secretariat of the Basel Convention had worked to improve the quality of the reports submitted by Parties and Australia's inability to provide this information was increasingly embarrassing.

(f) Little work had been done on an inventory or compendium on current hazardous waste treatment capabilities including commercial facilities. The Group recommended that the Secretariat contact the Environment Protection Authorities of New South Wales and Victoria, who would have information on certified waste treaters. Another avenue would be to contact the Lidcombe Liquid Waste Plant to ascertain which wastes they could treat. The Sustainable Industries Branch of the Department of the Environment and Heritage might also be able to provide information on hazardous waste treatment capabilities.

(g) Identification of emerging technologies was important because knowing what was coming up was integral to being proactive. Information could be sought from universities and the Australian Stock Exchange could be checked for developments in companies listed under Environmental Technologies and Waste Technologies. It would also be possible to canvas the views of delegates from other countries during meetings of the Technical Working Group of the Basel Convention.

(h) Little work had been done to identify problem areas and gaps in available technologies, or opportunities and strategies for waste minimisation and elimination. The Group noted that these topics would lend themselves to a consultancy, but Geoff Thompson advised that there were tight budgetary constraints.

(i) Jenny Stauber offered to organise a discussion with a CSIRO expert on batteries and the meeting welcomed this offer.

(j) John Hogan expressed concern that although most farm chemicals accumulated by the ChemCollect program could be dealt with, particularly where the product was lawful to use but no longer wanted by the owner, there was a growing stockpile that could not be treated in Australia. Mixtures of inorganic and organic chemicals were a particular problem. Long-term storage was not a good option because drums would rust and repackaging tended to increase the quantity of waste to be stored. Washing also generated liquid wastes. Developing a strategy to deal with these wastes would take time and should be co-ordinated at a national level. Geoff Thompson agreed to discuss these issues with the Department of the Environment and Heritage Chemicals Risk Management Section and report back to the Group.

(k) The Group discussed reporting on storage and tracking of wastes at State and Territory level. Geoff Thompson agreed to provide the Group with the pro-forma for reporting under Articles 13 & 16 of the Basel Convention.

(l) Members of the Group were concerned about the quantities of hazardous waste stockpiled around Australia. They also requested an assessment of the environmental outcomes of advice provided by the Group.

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

12. The Group discussed the draft Guidance paper and recommended extensive revision. The title of the paper was changed to 'Guidance on whether wastes containing metals or metal compounds are controlled under the Hazardous Waste Act'. References to the Basel Convention were replaced, where appropriate, with references to the Act. In general, the Group favoured the used of ecotoxicity-based criteria with a dilution and attenuation factor of 100, but qualified that view with the observation that the end result must look sensible in the real world.

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

13. There was no discussion of these items.

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

14. The Environment Protection and Heritage Council would consider the report of the scoping study on 2 May 2002.

Agenda Item 12. Other Business

15. There was no other business

Agenda Item 13. Dates of next meetings

(a) Friday 3 May 2002, Portland.

(b) Monday 24 June 2002.

(c) Friday 26 July 2002.