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Publications archive - Hazardous waste

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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Hazardous Waste Technical Group — 67th meeting

Thursday 17 June 2004
8.30 am - 4.30 pm
Burra Room, First 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 Peter Scaife
Dr Neill Stacey

Observer

Dr Bro Sheffield-Brotherton

Secretariat

Mr Bob Angel
Ms Marnie Rowe
Dr Greg Rippon
Dr Geoff Thompson

Apologies

Dr Robyn Eckersley
Dr Geoff Syme
Dr Jenny Stauber

Agenda Item 1. Draft Minutes of the 66th meeting

1. The meeting amended paragraphs 4, 18, 36, 37 and 38 of the draft Minutes. As amended, the draft Minutes were adopted.

Agenda Item 2. Matters arising

(a) Current list of members

2. Peter Nadebaum's contact details were amended.

3. One member raised a possible conflict of interest with an item that was to be discussed in the agenda. The meeting noted the details of the particular circumstances, in particular that no form of contractual relationship was involved. The meeting decided that there was no conflict of interest and the Minutes should not record specific details of the circumstances.

(b) Remuneration Tribunal: Determination 2004/12: Remuneration and Allowances for Holders of Part-time Public Office

(c) Remuneration Tribunal: Determination 2004/03: Official Travel by Office Holders

4. Members were concerned that payment slips from DEH contained no information on what the payment was for. They requested that this information be sent by email on the date of deposit, noting that this was done by other agencies.

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

(a) Permit report for previous twelve months

5. The meeting noted the report.

Agenda Item 4. Technical issues arising from applications and inquiries

(a) Draft assessment of ESM on an application to export photocopier hulks to Thailand

6. The meeting considered the agenda paper and came to several conclusions. First, the most difficult issues did not concern the disassembly facility itself, but were about ESM at the facilities that would dispose of some of the waste streams that were generated at the disassembly facility.

7. Second, sufficient information had been provided to address most of the concerns about the management of the waste cathode ray tubes and other glass components. Although the phosphors from the cathode ray tubes would be removed using hydrofluoric acid, there appeared to be sufficient evidence that this process would be performed in accordance with ESM. The process produced a small amount of sludge that would be disposed of in a cement kiln, but the quantity was so small as to be an insignificant fraction of the raw materials used in the cement kiln. Evidence of ESM was still required, but did not need to be as searching as the evidence required for facilities that disposed of larger quantities of waste. The glass cullet from the cathode ray tubes (some containing lead) would be sent, along with other waste glass photocopier parts such as platen glass and lenses, to be made into other glass products.

8. Third, sufficient information had also been provided about the processing of printed circuit boards and wire harnesses. However, there were still some outstanding questions about the treatment of waste liquids and solids from the plant. Another company would manage these wastes and more information was needed about that company's operations.

9. The major outstanding issue was the proposed disposal of about 53 tonnes per annum of waste plastic, a high proportion of which contained brominated flame retardants, in a cement kiln. The meeting noted that a large quantity of waste plastic is disposed of through use as a fuel or incineration in Japan, but it was doubtful whether Australian State and Territory governments would allow this practice. The secretariat agreed to write to State and Territory agencies to seek their views on this point.

(b) Application from Exide to export ULABs to New Zealand

(c) Response from ARA to the application from Exide to export ULABs to New Zealand

(d) Response from Exide to the response from ARA

(e) Correspondence with State and Territory environment departments

10. Allan Moore, Brian Smith and David Markey attended the meeting to present Exide's documents and answer questions. They were followed by Matt Howell and Steven Ainsworth, who presented ARA's document and answered questions.

11. The meeting discussed the information provided and came to five conclusions, as follows:

a) On the evidence available, Australia has the technical capacity and the necessary facilities to dispose of all Australian arisings of ULABs in an environmentally sound and efficient manner. The evidence is stronger than in 2003 because it is based on ARA's operational record over a period of more than twelve months.

b) There is evidence of increasing interest in the use of chemicals such as potassium or ammonium carbonate to convert lead sulphate to usable compounds such as lead carbonate and potassium or ammonium sulphate. This would reduce or eliminate the production of hazardous slag that currently goes to landfill. Exporting ULABs is more likely to hinder than help the introduction of such processes in Australia.

c) The environmental benefits and costs are neutral between processing in Australia and in New Zealand. There is evidence that the two Australian smelters achieve greater resource efficiencies by using a mixture of natural gas and oxygen to fire short rotary furnaces, as opposed to the use of a diesel-fired long rotary furnace in New Zealand.

d) Not allowing export would certainly reduce transboundary movements of hazardous wastes by up to 12,000 tonnes. Beyond that, the impact of not allowing exports on future transboundary movement of ULABS is speculative.

e) Notwithstanding the concerns expressed by Queensland and South Australia about the need to maintain effective and efficient collection systems for ULABs, particularly in rural and remote areas, collection systems are unlikely to be impacted in the long term. As stated by New South Wales, any decline in collection rates is expected to be only a short-term impact provided that ULABs continue to have a positive value and ARA have the operating capacity for all Australian arisings.

12. With respect to Australia's international obligations and conclusion (a), Australia has the technical capacity and the necessary facilities, capacity or suitable disposal sites in order to dispose of the wastes in question in an environmentally sound and efficient manner. Not allowing export would be consistent with the obligation under paragraph 9(a) of Article 4, Parties shall take the appropriate measures to ensure that the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and other wastes only be allowed if they do not have the technical capacity, etc. However, export could still be allowed under paragraph 9(b) of Article 4 because the wastes in question are required as a raw material for recycling or recovery industries in the State of import.

13. With respect to conclusion (b), not allowing export would be consistent with the obligation under paragraph 2(a) of Article 4, Each Party shall take the appropriate measures to ensure that the generation of hazardous wastes and other wastes within it is reduced to a minimum, taking into account social, technological and economic aspects

14. With respect to conclusion (c), there is no obvious connection to any obligation under the Basel Convention.

15. With respect to conclusions (d) and (e), not allowing export would be consistent with the obligation under paragraph 2(d) of Article 4, Each Party shall take the appropriate measures to ensure that the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and other wastes is reduced to the minimum consistent with the environmentally sound and efficient management of such wastes, and is conducted in a manner which will protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects which may result from such movement.

16. The meeting concluded that, taking all the above factors into account, not allowing export would be consistent with Australia's obligations under the Basel Convention.

(f) Draft criteria for identifying electronic waste

(g) Comments received on draft criteria to regulate the export of used computers and other electronic equipment

(h) Compilation of comments received on draft criteria for identifying electronic waste

17. The meeting noted the agenda papers, particularly the comments from the DEH Environment Stewardship Team.

(i) Letter on the hazardous waste status of used oil

(j) Product stewardship (Oil) Regulation 2000

18. The meeting noted the agenda papers.

(k) Proposal to regulate salt slag

19. The meeting noted that no OHS test was available for toxic gases.

Agenda Item 5. Reports of international meetings

(a) Draft Australian submission on the draft paper on the hazardous characteristic H11 - Toxic (Delayed or chronic)

20. The meeting approved the draft submission.

(b) Comments on draft paper on the hazardous characteristic H11 - Toxic (Delayed or chronic)

21. The meeting noted the agenda paper.

(c) A discussion of some of the scientific issues concerning the use of PVC

22. The meeting noted the agenda paper in the context of India's application for placement of new entries regarding plastic coated cables scrap on Annexes VIII and IX to the Basel Convention. Cables containing oil, coal tar and other dangerous substances would be placed on Annex VIII, and other cables would be placed on Annex IX.

23. At the third meeting of the Basel Convention Open-ended Working Group (OEWG3), Australia, Canada and the United States had expressed concern that the review of available and forthcoming scientific information concerning the evaluation of the potential environmental health effects of the disposal of PVC wastes and PVC-coated cables was included in the 2003-2004 work program of the OEWG but to date, no progress had been made. No other Parties had expressed concerns about the proposal and a small contact group had been established to progress the matter. In this group, the United States had amended the proposed Annex VIII entry to include PCBs.

24. In the final plenary session, Chile had expressed concern that the proposal had been amended by inserting a reference to copper. Parties had been invited to submit comments on India's proposal by 30 June 2004, after which the proposal would be submitted to COP 7, where it was expected to be adopted.

25. Although no Parties objected to the proposal, Greenpeace International had argued that the proposal should not be forwarded to COP 7. There had been no progress with the scientific evaluation of PVC wastes and PVC-coated cables and it was not appropriate to include PVC with other plastics. There were outstanding issues to be resolved with respect to the combustion of PVC and also to leaching from PVC.

26. Members of the Technical Group expressed strong concerns about India's proposal because of the well-documented potential for formation of dioxins and furans when chlorine containing materials or mixtures are combusted in the presence of copper. Although there is always a potential for formation of dioxins and furans during the combustion of chlorine containing materials, certain metals, and in particular copper, are very effective catalysts for this process.

27. Members were strongly concerned that it is still common in developing countries for plastic-coatings to be removed from copper cables by combustion. This issue should be referred to the Hazardous waste act policy reference group and taken into account when India's proposal was considered.

Agenda Item 6. Work Program of the Technical Group

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

(a) Draft Regulation Impact Statement on revisions to Information Paper No 5: Guidance on Whether Wastes Containing Metals or Metal Compounds are Regulated Under the Hazardous Waste Act

28. No progress had been made since the previous meeting. This matter was less urgent now that Australia had made a submission indicating that further work was needed on the draft paper on hazardous characteristic H11.

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

29. There was nothing to report under this item.

Agenda Item 9. Defining environmentally sound management

30. The meeting agreed that it was time to revise Information Paper 6.

Agenda Item 10. Regional Centres

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

Agenda Item 12. Other business

31. There was nothing to report under these items

Agenda Item 13. Dates of next meetings

a) Friday 9 July 2004 (Melbourne, tentative)
b) Friday 30 July 2004
c) Friday 27 August 2004
d) Friday 24 September 2004