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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Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time.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 — 70th meeting

Friday 24 September 2004
8.30 am - 4.30 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

Mr John Hogan
Ms Diane Kovacs
Dr Peter Di Marco
Mr Stephen Moore
Dr Peter Nadebaum
Dr Peter Scaife

Observer

Dr Bro Sheffield-Brotherton

Secretariat

Mr Robert Angel
Dr Greg Rippon
Dr Geoff Thompson

Apologies

Dr Robyn Eckersley
Dr Neill Stacey
Dr Jenny Stauber
Dr Geoff Syme

Item 1. Minutes

(a) Draft Minutes of the 69th meeting

1. The meeting amended paragraph 18 of the draft Minutes and adopted the Minutes as amended.

Item 2. Matters arising

(a) Current list of members

2. The list remained unchanged.

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

(a) Permit report for previous twelve months

3. Members asked whether the solvent waste for which Nuplex has applied for an export permit to New Zealand could be treated in Australia. The secretariat responded that it was investigating this question and would report back.

Item 4. Technical issues arising from applications and inquiries

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

4. Members remarked that the new document was much better structured. They asked, however, that all abbreviations be given in full on first mention, as well as being listed at the beginning of the document.

5. The meeting then reviewed the document paragraph by paragraph and suggested alterations and amendments where necessary. A revised draft would be considered at the next meeting.

6. The meeting recommended that the document be made available to the Policy Group at its next meeting, on 8 October 2004, to facilitate discussion of issues relevant to the application.

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

7. The meeting noted the agenda paper. Although the Group had adopted it at the previous meeting, members agreed that it should be amended to make it consistent with the revised assessment of ESM for the photocopier hulks.

8. Members agreed that dealing with the equipment containing residual toner in accordance with the export proposal would be consistent with the environmentally sound management of the waste. Members noted, however, that at least one company claimed to be able to deal with the equipment within Australia and it would be necessary to decide whether the proposed export was consistent with Australia's international obligations.

(c) ESM of POPs from PICs

9. Greg Rippon outlined how BCD Technologies Pty Ltd proposed to dispose of the persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that would be imported from Pacific Island Countries (PICs). The first shipment would be from Samoa and would include oils containing PCBs or pesticides. He noted that BCD uses two processes: base-catalysed dechlorination and the Plascon™ process using a plasma arc. Both processes are covered by an authority issued by the Queensland EPA. This authority was recently reviewed to incorporate limits given in the various national management guidelines for scheduled wastes and to ensure full compliance with the guidelines. Releases to storm water were covered by a trade waste agreement with the local shire council.

10. Greg also described how a program to monitor emissions from the BCD plant had been negotiated by the consultant, GHD Pty Ltd, BCD Technologies Pty Ltd and a local community group. There would be three sampling periods roughly equating to the beginning, middle and end of the project.

11. Members asked how much material was likely to be imported and treated, and when the collection was likely to be completed. Greg replied that it was expected that about 100 tonnes of the waste would be collected from the PICs and this would be completed in about 6 months. One member indicated that some countries in the region were not fully co-operative, and other factors such as weather and political issues could impact on collection rates. Further, most of the POPs are expected to be unwanted agricultural chemicals, rather than organochlorine pesticides, and much of this waste should be "true to label" since it would be coming from government surplus stores.

12. Members were asked whether they agreed that the proposed disposal would be consistent with the environmentally sound management of the waste. Three members declared that they had a conflict of interest through their connections to GHD Pty Ltd and left the room. The remaining four members concluded that the process was environmentally sound and was, in fact, the only option left for disposal of scheduled wastes in Australia. This conclusion, however, needs to be confirmed at the next meeting when a quorum is present.

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

(e) Hazardous waste status of used oil: correspondence

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

(g) ESM of asbestos gaskets

13. There was no discussion of these items.

(h) Application to classify zinc oxide product as a non-waste

14. AusZinc had made a written submission describing their thermal process for treating galvanising residues, and asking whether a refinery grade zinc oxide by-product which contains lead at levels of 0.4-0.7% was regulated as a waste under the Act.

15. Zinc residues are a mixture of entrained metallic zinc and zinc oxide formed during the hot dip galvanizing process and during other zinc coating applications. Typically these residues contain 30-50% metallic zinc, 40-50% total available zinc, 4-8% water-insoluble chloride and 0.4-0.7% lead. The balance is mainly oxygen.

16. In the AusZinc furnace the zinc residues are mixed with flux and heated under controlled conditions (temperature and time) to convert the residues to metallic zinc and the zinc oxide product. During this treatment:

  1. The zinc metal is sweated from the residues. Essentially this means that most of the particles of entrained metallic zinc are melted and form a "pool" of liquid metallic zinc in the rotary furnace.
  2. Refractory zinc oxychloride compounds are converted to zinc oxide and soluble alkaline chlorides.
  3. The lead in the residues is converted to insoluble plumbates, and consequently the TCLP lead level is significantly reduced from that of the untreated zinc residues.

17. Typical changes in composition that occur as a result of the treatment are set out in the table below:

  Zinc Residue Refinery Grade Zinc Oxide
Zinc metal 30-50% 5-12%
Available zinc 40-50% 60-70%
Insoluble chlorides 2-6% 4-8%
Lead 0.4-0.7% 0.4-0.7%
TCLP lead 1.50 mg/L 0.37 mg/L

18. Compared with the original zinc residues, the zinc oxide product is substantially depleted in metallic zinc, and enriched in zinc oxide. It meets the specification set by most zinc refineries, and is a much better feed for conventional zinc electro-refining operations than the untreated zinc residues, for the following reasons:

  1. The metallic zinc level has been reduced. This is important to zinc refineries where excessive amounts of hydrogen can be generated when sulfuric acid is used to dissolve zinc oxide that contains high levels of metallic zinc.
  2. The lead level is below the penalty level set by zinc refineries (nominally less than 2% lead). It is standard practice for zinc refineries to charge a penalty as the lead level of the feed increases. Typically zinc sulfide concentrates can contain 0.5-5% lead.
  3. The chlorides have been converted to a water-soluble form. This allows the refinery to water wash the oxide product to remove chloride prior to dissolving the oxide in sulfuric acid. Chloride in a zinc refinery leach solution attacks the anodes during electrolysis and can generate chlorine gas in the cell house.

19. The meeting considered Section 9 of Information Paper No. 2, Distinguishing Wastes from Non-Wastes under Australia's Hazardous Waste Act, which sets out criteria for determining when a waste recovery process has produced a non-waste, Members agreed that the zinc oxide product is a non-waste because:

  1. Zinc residues, which are a hazardous waste, are subjected to a recovery operation in a furnace.
  2. This process sufficiently diminishes the threat posed to environment by the original material because the zinc oxide product does not leach hazardous concentration of lead, neither does it contain insoluble chloride that can generate chlorine gas in the cell house.
  3. The process produces a recovered material that can and will be used in exactly the same way as a material that has not been defined as a waste. The metallic zinc level has been reduced and so the zinc oxide can be used as a substitute for zinc sulfide concentrates as a feed for conventional zinc electro-refining operations.
  4. The recovered material meets all relevant health and environmental requirements.

Item 5. International meetings

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

20. The meeting considered the most recent draft paper from the US EPA. Members appreciated the extra material referencing the GHS and acknowledging the WHO, but still had problems with the overall approach. The paper continued to rely on the US EPA approach when it could have used the WHO/GHS hazard classification cut offs and there still was no clear explanation of the methodology that was used to derive the numbers. Peter Di Marco agreed to provide additional comments out of session.

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

21. There was no discussion of these items.

Item 11. Other business

22. There was no other business.

Item 12. Dates of next meetings

(a) Friday 22 October 2004, Melbourne
(b) Friday 3 December 2004