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Hazardous Waste Technical Group - 53rd meeting

Thursday 6 June 2002
8.30 am – 4.30 pm
Daylesford/Ballarat Room, Hilton Melbourne Airport

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Minutes

Present:

Chair

Professor Paul Greenfield

Members
Ms Diane Kovacs
Mr Stephen Moore
Dr Peter Scaife
Dr Neill Stacey
Dr Jennifer Stauber

Observer

Dr Peter Brotherton

Secretariat

Dr Geoff Thompson
Mr Andrew Inglis
Ms Panna Patel

Apologies

Dr Paul Brown
Dr Peter Di Marco
Dr Robyn Eckersley
Mr John Hogan
Mr James Johnson
Dr Peter Nadebaum

Agenda Item 1. Draft Minutes of the 52nd meeting

1. The meeting adopted the draft Minutes.

Agenda Item 2. Matters arising

2. There were no matters arising.

Agenda Item 3. Technical issues arising from applications and inquiries

(a) Proposed export of spent potlinings (SPL)

(i). Draft assessment of environmentally sound management

(ii). Letter from Tomago to the Department of the Environment and Heritage

(iii). E-mail from Tomago to the Department of the Environment and Heritage

3. Tomago had provided a copy of Selca's new authorisation, issued by Regione Lombardia on 7 May 2002 as Deliberazione No VII/8996. The facility is authorised to perform "operazioni di messa in riserva (R13) e recupero (R4) di rifiuti speciali pericolosi e non pericolosi". Subject to this amendment, the meeting adopted the draft assessment of environmentally sound management.

4. The meeting then discussed the potential impact of granting an export permit on the development of local disposal options. It asked that a copy of the policy advice, prepared by the Technical Group and presented to the Policy Group in June 2001, be provided for discussion at the next meeting.

(b) Possible import of POPs wastes (oral)

(c) Possible import of Flue-gas Desulphurisation Gypsum to rehabilitate land

(d) Proposed import of industrial waste water treatment sludge

5. There was nothing to report on the possible import of POPs wastes. The meeting requested the secretariat to get more information on the possible import of flue-gas desulphurisation gypsum, particularly the processes that were used to refine it. The meeting noted that the industrial wastewater treatment sludge, proposed to be imported for agricultural use, contained less cadmium than many commercially available fertilisers, but deferred further discussion of this item to the next meeting.

(e) Proposed export of used lead-acid batteries to New Zealand

6. Exide Australia Pty Ltd (Exide) and Australian Refined Alloys Pty Ltd (ARA) were invited to make presentations to the meeting. The Exide representatives discussed issues that included the following:

(a) The potential impacts of not granting the permit, including forced closure of Exide's New Zealand smelter and the consequent environmental, social and commercial impacts, negative impacts on battery collection and recycling schemes and an ARA monopoly of the secondary lead market.

(b) The merits of Exide's collection and recycling process, which is a manufacturer's take-back scheme and a closed-loop process that returns the lead to battery manufacture in Australasia.

7. The ARA representatives discussed issues that included the following:

(a) The company's actual and planned productivity improved steadily from just over 10,000 tonnes of lead produced in1984-85 to almost 40,000 tonnes in 2004-2005. ARA was now able to process all used lead-acid batteries (ULABs) generated in Australia and would lose 45 working days in 2001-2002 due to lack of feed.

(b) Exports to New Zealand were effectively denying ARA its productivity offsets and this was a serious industry hazard because lead prices were volatile.

(c) Any monopoly in secondary lead would be constrained because the London Metal Exchange determined the price of lead and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission was vigilant in these matters.

After the presentations, the meeting discussed the issues at length, including the following:

9. The meeting concluded that commercial rather than environmental issues drove this issue. The environmental outcomes would be very similar regardless of whether the batteries were disposed of in Australia or New Zealand, but the commercial outcomes of the permit decision were vital for both ARA and Exide. On balance, refusing a permit would be consistent with Australia's international obligations but this would involve risks that should be clearly understood. The meeting asked the Secretariat to prepare a draft statement of advice, for adoption at the next meeting.

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. Because of the continued delay in organising the proposed "Dakar II" workshop, the Minister had approved release of the funds, already paid to the Basel Convention Technical Cooperation Trust Fund, for other purposes.

Agenda Item 6. Work Program of the Technical Group

(a) History of the Technical Group

11. There was no discussion of this item.

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

(a) Guidance on whether wastes containing metals or metal compounds are controlled under the Hazardous Waste Act

(i). Draft of April 2002

(ii). Comments by Pasminco Limited

(iii). Comments from EPA NSW

(iv). Comments by EPA Victoria

12. The meeting requested that a discussion of the ecotoxicity of each metal be added to the paper, with reasons for adopting or not adopting an ecotoxicity-based concentration given for each metal. It was likely that the paper would continue to recommend the use of drinking water criteria, but the reasons for not using ecotoxicity-based criteria needed to be set out more clearly.

13. The meeting also recommended replacing Table 6 with a diagram, including error bars around each number based on scientific data on the accuracy of leachate tests.

(b) Hazard assessment of Y22 copper compounds

(c) Hazard assessment of Y23 zinc compounds

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

Agenda Item 9. Defining environmentally sound management

Agenda Item 10. Regional Centres (oral)

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 (oral)

Agenda Item 12. Other Business

14. There was no discussion of these items.

Agenda Item 13. Dates of next meetings

(a) Monday 24 June 2002, Hilton Melbourne Airport.

(b) Friday 2 August 2002, Sydney.

(c) Friday 23 August 2002.