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Publications archive - Hazardous waste

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Hazardous Waste Technical Group — 65th meeting

Friday 16 April 2004
8.30 am - 3:45 pm
Uluru Room, Fourth Floor, John Gorton Building
King Edward Terrace, PARKES ACT 2600

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Minutes

Present:

Chair

Professor Paul Greenfield

Members

Dr Peter Di Marco
Mr John Hogan
Ms Diane Kovacs
Mr Stephen Moore
Dr Peter Nadebaum
Dr Neill Stacey
Dr Jenny Stauber
Dr Peter Scaife
Dr Geoff Syme

Observer

Dr Peter Brotherton

Secretariat

Mr Bob Angel
Dr Greg Rippon Mr Andrew Inglis
Dr Geoff Thompson

Apologies

Dr Robyn Eckersley

Agenda Item 1. Draft Minutes of the 64th meeting

1. The draft Minutes were adopted without amendment.

Agenda Item 2. Matters arising

2. There were no matters arising.

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

(a) Permit report for previous twelve months

3. The meeting noted the agenda paper.

Agenda Item 4. Technical issues arising from applications and inquiries

(a) Assessment of ESM on an application to export photocopier hulks to Thailand: Section 15 request

(b) Assessment of ESM on an application to export photocopier hulks to Thailand: response to Section 15 request

(c) Assessment of ESM on an application to export photocopier hulks to Thailand: answer to the questions

4. The meeting considered the response to the section 15 request and the answers to the questions, and identified a number of issues where more information was still needed, as described below.

5. For the disassembly operation itself, more information was needed about the markets for the cathode ray tubes and lenses. How much of the recycled glass cullet would actually be used by the proposed processing plant, and what products would be made from it? It would also be helpful to know more about the size of the plant, including the number of people employed.

6. The applicant had provided information about the overall environmental benefits and efficiencies arising from export, but should be asked to elaborate on the answer to the question on collaborative recycling through Producer Responsibility Organisations. What were the technical, economic or other reasons why such an organisation could not be set up in Australia to recycle photocopiers from all sources.

7. For the plant in Thailand that would process the circuit boards and wire harnesses, more information was needed on the operation of the ball mill, including details of how any dust emissions from the mill were controlled. More information was also needed on the waste water treatment. Was the water treated on or off site, what processes were used and what regulations applied to its discharge? Where was the landfill located that took the floating particles and how was it licensed?

8. For the same plant, no documents were provided relevant to accreditation under ISO14001, or to audits performed on the facility, or to due diligence processes.

9. For the plant in Thailand that would process the cathode ray tubes and the lenses, not enough evidence was provided that all proper precautions are followed in the handling of hydrofluoric acid, and that staff were properly trained in the handling and use of this very dangerous chemical. As for the previous plant, no documents were provided relevant to accreditation under ISO14001, or to audits performed on the facility, or to due diligence processes.

10. The cement kiln in Thailand that would take the sludge from the glass cleaning was licensed to accept industrial waste and could be burning a wide range of materials. A great deal of information would be required on emissions and not just of dioxins and furans. Again, no documents were provided relevant to accreditation under ISO14001, or to audits performed on the facility, or to due diligence processes.

11. For the other cement kiln in Thailand, that would take the plastics sludge from the glass cleaning, there were also concerns about dioxins and furans. No documents were provided relevant to accreditation under ISO14001, or to audits performed on the facility, or to due diligence processes.

12. There were strong concerns about the incinerator that would be used for soft plastic parts, mainly about the measures that would be taken to limit emissions of dioxins and furans etc. This process was incineration, not energy recovery, but incineration was better than landfill.

13. The meeting noted the information provided on the national and public laws that regulate emissions to air and water in Japan. Members requested clarification of the statement about mercury and the clean air law in Japan.

14. Overall, the meeting felt that on the basis of the information provided, they could not be satisfied that dealing with the hazardous waste concerned in accordance with the export proposal would be consistent with the environmentally sound management of the waste. Members requested that a draft assessment of environmentally sound management be prepared for their consideration at the next meeting.

(d) Classification of salt slag as a hazardous waste

(e) Record of meeting about salt slag on 26 February 2004

(f) Paper on processing of salt slag from the secondary aluminium production

(g) Draft evidentiary certificate for aluminium salt slag

15. At its previous meeting, the Group had concluded that salt slag, or saltcake, produced in the recovery of aluminium from aluminium dross, fell within the scope of disposal operation R4, Recycling/reclamation of metals and metal compounds, in Annex IV to the Basel Convention. Salt slag therefore belongs to category Y18 in Annex I to the Convention, Residues arising from industrial waste disposal operations, and export and import is controlled under the Convention and the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989.

16. The Group considered agenda paper 4(d), a submission made by an industrial facility, which argued that aluminium cans were not an industrial waste. It would therefore follow that salt slag produced in the recovery of aluminium cans did not belong to category Y18 and was not controlled under the Convention and the Act. The submission also argued that aluminium cans were the essential input into the facility in question. It was true that the operations at the facility also involved the input of some aluminium dross, and occasionally of aluminium off-cuts from scrap metal yards, but these inputs were clearly subsidiary to, and not determinative of the essential nature of, the operations conducted at the facility.

17. The meeting noted that item 4(e), Record of meeting about salt slag on 26 February 2004, contained advice that the loading of the rotary furnace in question included the following: 10,800 tonnes of used beverage containers, 4,799 tonnes of aluminium class 2/3/4, 2,657 tonnes of Aluminium Coated, 2,500 tonnes of dross, 1,040 tonnes of aluminium taint/8011, 720 tonnes of Aluminium Smelter, 840 tonnes of internal run around scrap from slitting and rolling, and 5,869 tonnes of internally processed dross (making a total 29,315 tonnes). This meant that aluminium beverage containers comprised only one-third of the input to the facility. This was inconsistent with the statements made in the submission.

18. The meeting also noted that the covering letter, attached to the submission, stated that the Department had advised that a permit would not be required for the export of "aluminium skimming also known as salt slag". The Department did not consider that this statement was correct. As described in agenda paper 4(e), the Department had twice advised, on 8 and 29 August 2003, that: "Based on the information provided, the aluminium skimmings may be assigned to entry B1100 in Annex IX to the Basel Convention, Metal bearing wastes arising from melting, smelting, and refining of metals: Aluminium skimmings (or skims) excluding salt slag. Therefore, an export permit would not be required under the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1989 unless the particular aluminium skimmings contained Basel Annex I material (such as cadmium or lead) to an extent causing it to exhibit an Annex III hazardous characteristic." The Department had no record of any advice given about "aluminium skimming also known as salt slag" and would not have used this term, which confused aluminium skimmings, not controlled under the Basel Convention, with salt slag, a waste that is controlled under the Convention. Use of this term introduced confusion where clarification would be preferable.

19. The Department had taken legal advice on the submission. With respect to the phrase "Residues arising from industrial waste disposal operations", the advice noted that the Convention refers simply to "disposal" in other parts. As the Convention is concerned with waste it would seem to be superfluous to provide for waste disposal. Accordingly, it is certainly arguable that the adjective "industrial" attaches to "waste" rather than "disposal operations" and there appears to be no compelling reason why it should not be so interpreted. However, there is some doubt as to which interpretation should be adopted and this might possibly only be resolved by recourse to background papers showing how the terminology was arrived at.

20. The Department had then sought clarification by examining an alternative legal text of the Convention. This was the French language text of the Basel Convention, which reads 'Résidus d'opérations d'élimination des déchets industriels', which may be translated as 'Residues from disposal operations for industrial wastes'.

21. The meeting considered the agenda papers, and the information provided, and concluded that the submission introduced an undesirable uncertainty. In general, salt slag from the recovery of aluminium was controlled as a hazardous waste under the Basel Convention. The source of the slag should be irrelevant and, if it could be argued that salt slag arising from recovery of a particular type of aluminium was not controlled under the Convention, then the regulations should be amended as soon as possible to ensure that salt slag from all sources was regulated under the Act.

22. The Group agreed to adopt the two evidentiary certificates but only on an interim basis so that the Department could put forward a proposal to regulate salt slag. It was not appropriate to adopt an evidentiary certificate that could be seen as endorsing the export or import of hazardous waste without the controls provided for under the Act to ensure that human beings and the environment, both within and outside Australia, are protected from the harmful effects of the waste. It should also be made clear that the direction to be taken was the regulation of salt slag.

(h) Exchange of correspondence on the tabling of a report to the Technical Group

23. The exchange of correspondence focused on concerns that commercial-in-confidence information be appropriately protected when provided to the Group. The department had provided appropriate assurances. The meeting also noted that correspondence had been addressed directly to Paul Greenfield in his capacity as Chair. It was appropriate that the Department respond to such correspondence on behalf of any member of the Group.

(i) Draft criteria for identifying electronic waste

(j) Statement of decision to grant a permit to Sims Group Limited

(k) Statement of decision to refuse a permit to PWT Australasia Pty Ltd

(l) Statement of decision to grant a permit to Simsmetal Limited

24. The meeting noted the papers.

Agenda Item 5. Reports of international meetings

(a) Provisional Agenda for OEWG3, 26-30 April 2004

(b) Agenda paper on the preparation of technical guidelines on the environmentally sound management of wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with persistent organic pollutants (POPs)

(c) Text of the draft technical guidelines on the environmentally sound management of wastes consisting of, containing or contaminated with Polychlorinated Dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs) and Polychlorinated Dibenzofurans (PCDFs)

(d) Agenda paper on the preparation of technical guidelines on the environmentally sound recycling/reclamation of metals and metal compounds (R4)

(e) Text of the draft technical guidelines on the environmentally sound recycling/reclamation of metals and metal compounds (R4)

(f) Work on hazardous characteristics

(g) Text of the draft paper on the hazardous characteristic H11 - Toxic (Delayed or chronic)

(h) Text of the draft paper on the hazardous characteristic H13

25. In response to a question, members were advised that that the status of item 5(c), the draft technical guidelines on PCDDs and PCDFs, was that the document was a first draft that had been provided as a starting point for negotiation and development of the text by the Parties to the Basel Convention.

Agenda Item 6. Work Program of the Technical Group

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

Agenda Item 10. Regional Centres

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

Agenda Item 12. Other business

26. There was no discussion of these items.

Agenda Item 13. Dates of next meetings

(a) Friday 21 May 2004
(b) Thursday 17 June 2004
(c) Friday 18 June 2004 (joint meeting with Policy Group)
(d) Friday 30 July 2004