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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Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time.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 — 69th meeting

Friday 27 August 2004
8.30 am - 4.30 pm
Waratah Room, First Floor, John Gorton Building
King Edward Terrace, PARKES ACT 2600

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Minutes

Present:

Chair

Professor Paul Greenfield

Members

Ms Diane Kovacs
Dr Neill Stacey
Mr Stephen Moore
Dr Jenny Stauber
Dr Peter Scaife
Dr Geoff Syme

Observer

Dr Bro Sheffield-Brotherton

Secretariat

Dr Geoff Thompson
Dr Greg Rippon
Ms Panna Patel
Mr Andrew Inglis

Apologies

Dr Peter Di Marco
Mr John Hogan
Dr Robyn Eckersley
Dr Peter Nadebaum

Item 1. Minutes

(a) Draft Minutes of the 67th meeting

1. The meeting amended paragraphs 11, 13 and 16 of the draft Minutes and adopted the amended version of the Minutes.

(b) Draft Minutes of the 68th meeting

2. The meeting amended paragraphs 13 and 14 of the draft Minutes and adopted the amended version of the Minutes.

Item 2. Matters arising

(a) Current list of members

3. The list was updated.

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

(a) Permit report for previous twelve months

4. Members asked about progress with the application to export asbestos gaskets to New Zealand. They were advised that the proposed export would be prohibited under the Customs Regulations but could be permitted under the Hazardous Waste Act if all of the Act's requirements, including environmentally sound management, were met. The Department was awaiting advice from other agencies so that a decision could be made in due course.

5. Members asked why a new application had been submitted to export lead solder dross to Belgium when the previous application had been refused on 4 March 2004. They were advised that the refusal reflected advice from the Technical Group that the waste could and should be disposed of by using an Australian facility. In the event, Australian facilities were not interested in disposing of the waste at the price that was now being asked. The price of tin, in particular, had surged in recent months and it appeared that the Belgian processor was able to achieve a more efficient separation of the tin and the lead. This suggested that an argument could be made that the export option could achieve resource efficiencies that could not be achieved in Australia. Further information about this had been requested.

6. Peter Scaife advised that Tomago Aluminium Company Pty Limited were busy clearing their site in preparation for export of the next shipment of spent potlinings to Italy. He recommended that the Group should ask for a progress report on the Regain project. Members also noted a report that spent potlinings from Comalco's Boyne Island smelter were being used as fuel by Cement Australia's kiln at Fisherman's Landing.

7. Greg Rippon advised that the complete application to import POPs waste from Samoa had been received from GHD Pty Ltd on 24 August 2004. Under the Act, the Minister must decide whether to grant the permit within 60 days but this period may be extended by up to 60 days. The Queensland EPA had reviewed the license of the processing facility and had set stack emission limits. They had also set monitoring requirements to demonstrate compliance with these limits. Monitoring would be carried out twice a year for emissions of dioxins and furans from the Plascon chamber. The arrangements for monitoring stack emissions had been modified because the NOHSC guidelines were designed for a bigger and longer stack.

8. Bro Sheffield-Brotherton asked whether an update could be requested from AusAID on POPs waste from Papua New Guinea

Item 4. Technical issues arising from applications and inquiries

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

9. The meeting agreed to restructure the draft assessment to reflect the structure and some of the text of the toner assessment (described under item 4(b)). The revised assessment should begin by describing the overall design and rationale of the proposed process. Then a detailed description of all aspects of the process should be given, using the flow charts from the application and ensuring that the text was fully consistent with the charts. The answers to the eight questions should come at the end of the detailed description, and should be modelled for length and style on the text currently drafted for questions 6, 7 and 8. Information on the processes and licensing arrangements for the Japanese facilities should be comparable to that generally provided for exports to other OECD countries.

10. The meeting requested further information about dioxin emissions from incineration of brominated flame retardant plastics and the secretariat agreed to seek comments from the Department's Chemicals Policy Section. The meeting also noted that the text should also include full details of the precautions taken to prevent breakage of mercury lamps, and to ensure that they were packaged, transported and processed safely.

(b) Draft assessment of ESM on an application to export used electrical equipment containing residual toner to Thailand

11. The meeting worked through the draft assessment, made a number of amendments and then adopted the amended version of the assessment.

(c) Process to determine whether used electronic equipment, proposed for export, is defined as waste (oral)

12. The meeting noted that the next meeting on the process would be organised when Bob Angel returned from sick leave.

(d) Hazardous waste status of used oil: correspondence

13. The meeting noted the agenda paper.

(e) Amendments to the Hazardous Waste Regulations to prescribe salt slag as a hazardous waste

14. The Group noted the agenda paper updating the proposed amendments, and a submission from Alcoa Australia Rolled Products. It was generally agreed that the Dangerous Goods code test should be used to determine whether the waste did not emit flammable gases in contact with water. The text headed "Rationale" should be checked for accuracy and amended where necessary.

15. On the liberation of toxic gases, Alcoa had advised that they were currently collecting and analysing samples to provide the data that were required.

16. On ecotoxicity, the meeting did not agree with Alcoa's view that a less aggressive leaching test should be used instead of class 3a of AS 4439.3-1997. The rationale for using an acidic leaching test had been clearly set out in Information Paper No. 5, Guidance on whether wastes containing metals or metal compounds are regulated under the Hazardous Waste Act. Wastes that are not regulated under the Act may be sent to any place for any disposal operation without regulatory supervision. Since metals leach more readily in acidic environments, a realistic worst-case scenario is that wastes may be spilt, stored or disposed of in an acidic environment.

17. The meeting did not agree with Alcoa's view that use of an acidic leaching test may unduly restrict Australian industry's ability to manage waste. Provided that the requirements of the Act were met, permits may be granted to export hazardous waste for environmentally sound disposal in other countries. The meeting also noted that leaching tests were designed to test the mobility of both inorganic and organic materials, not "inorganic elements" as stated by Alcoa.

18. The meeting agreed that an acidic leaching test should be used and any waste that leached more than 0.1 mg/L of aluminium in leachate should be defined as hazardous. The meeting was not confident, however, than waste that leached less than 0.1 mg/L of aluminium could be defined as not ecotoxic. The Australian and New Zealand Guidelines for Fresh and Marine Water Quality have established a freshwater low reliability trigger value of 0.8 µg/L at pH values less than 6.5. This indicates that the data that are currently available are not sufficiently reliable to justify a conclusion that the waste would or may not present immediate or delayed adverse impacts to the environment by means of bioaccumulation and/or toxic effects upon biotic systems.

(f) ESM of asbestos gaskets

19. This item was dealt with under Item 3 (a).

(g) Export of ULABs to New Zealand: Statement of Decision

20. The meeting noted the agenda paper.

(h) Hazardous waste status of Cockle Creek stockpiles

21. The submission stated that: "The stockpiles have originated from three major sources - the Hot Gas Precipitators (HGP) in the Acid Plant, the Gas Scrubbing system at the ISF, and from the Howden Baghouse that cleaned the ventilation gases of the Blast Furnace and Refinery buildings.". It also included spillages of raw materials. Because the stockpiles had originated from a number of different sources their contents were not homogenous, but on average they contained about 25% lead, 20% zinc and 3% cadmium.

22. Table C in Information Paper No. 2, Distinguishing Wastes from Non-wastes under Australia's Hazardous Waste Act, sets out reasons why materials are intended for disposal. These include Q4, Materials spilled, lost or having undergone other mishap including any materials, equipment etc. contaminated as a result of the mishap, and Q9, Residues from pollution abatement processes (eg scrubber sludges, baghouse dusts, spent filters, etc). Since the material in the stockpiles could be assigned to Q4 and Q9, the meeting agreed that it should be defined as a waste.

Item 5. International meetings

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

23. The agenda paper had been received from the from US EPA one day before the meeting and members had not had time to review it. They agreed to provide any comments to the secretariat within two weeks.

Item 6. 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

Item 7. Criteria for separating wastes from non-wastes

Item 8. Defining environmentally sound management

Item 9. Regional Centres

Item 10. Avoidance, minimisation and treatment of hazardous wastes

Item 11. Other business

24. There was no discussion of these items.

Item 12. Dates of next meetings

(a) Friday 24 September 2004
(b) Friday 22 October 2004
(c) Friday 19 or 26 November 2004