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Publications archive - Hazardous waste


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Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time.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 — 71st meeting

Friday 5 November 2004
8.30 am - 4.30 pm
Close The Loop, 208 Hume Highway, Somerton VIC 3062, tel. 03 9930 8603
Bellarine Boardroom, Tullamarine Hilton

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Professor Paul Greenfield


Dr Peter Di Marco
Dr Robyn Eckersley (morning only)
Mr John Hogan
Mr Stephen Moore
Dr Peter Nadebaum (morning only)
Dr Peter Scaife
Dr Neill Stacey
Dr Jenny Stauber


Mr Robert Angel
Dr Geoff Thompson


Dr Bro Sheffield-Brotherton
Dr Geoff Syme
Ms Diane Kovacs

Item 1. Minutes

(a) Draft Minutes of the 70th meeting

1. The meeting amended the draft Minutes and adopted the Minutes as amended.

Item 2. Matters arising

(a) Current list of members

2. The list remained unchanged.

3. The meeting confirmed the conclusion recorded in paragraph 12 of the Minutes of the 70th meeting, that the proposed disposal of persistent organic pollutants imported from Pacific Island Countries would be consistent with the environmentally sound management of the waste, and that the process was the only option left for disposal of scheduled wastes in Australia. A quorum had not been present when this conclusion was reached at the 70th meeting.

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

(a) Permit report for previous twelve months

4. Members asked why the PWT application was being considered again when it had so recently been refused. The secretariat responded that ARA was no longer interested in this waste. The Belgian processor was now offering a much higher price that reflected recent increases in the price of tin.

5. Members asked whether there was any new information about possible treatment options in Australia for the solvent waste that Nuplex proposed to export to New Zealand. The secretariat replied that a facility in Albury might be able to recycle the waste but this was not yet established.

Item 4 Technical issues arising from applications and inquiries

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

6. Members reviewed the agenda paper and agreed a number of changes, particularly to the last section, dealing with the answers to Question 8 of Information Paper No. 6. The meeting adopted the paper as amended.

(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 and agreed that, where necessary, the text should be amended to make this paper consistent with the revised assessment of ESM for the photocopier hulks.

(c) Letter from Fuji Xerox

(d) Letter from Close the Loop Limited

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

(f) Supply and delivery of furnace oil for a power station

8. The meeting noted the agenda papers.

(g) Submission by Alcoa Australia Rolled Products (AARP) on the proposed amendments to the Hazardous Waste Regulations to prescribe salt slag as a hazardous waste

(h) Comments by DEH on the submission by AARP

9. The meeting considered a submission from Alcoa Australia Rolled Products. On the liberation of toxic gases, Alcoa had calculated that up to 326 ml of phosphine could be liberated from 1 kg of salt slag, and up to 215 ml of hydrogen sulphide. These were the toxic gases of greatest concern. The estimated maximum values for arsine and stibine were much lower, 0.3 ml and 0.1 ml per kg respectively.

10. Alcoa should also have calculated a maximum value for ammonia but had not done so, on the assumption that most of any evolved ammonia would dissolve in water. However, the hazardous characteristic is whether toxic gases are liberated in contact with air or water, not whether they would subsequently dissolve. Salt slag could react in a humid atmosphere where there could be relatively little water available to dissolve ammonia. Ammonia can be extremely irritating to the eyes, throat, and breathing passages.

11. The potential for liberation of phosphine and hydrogen sulphide was a matter of concern because the calculated levels were highly likely to raise health issues. Using 8-hour time weighted average exposure levels, appropriate limits for constituent concentrations in salt slag could be calculated. Alcoa should be asked to do the necessary back calculations for a realistic worst-case scenario such as storage in a moist enclosed area.

12. Alcoa had submitted a single sample of 15 g of pulverised salt slag to CSIRO for gas formation analysis by Mass Spectrometer. The testing and the report were not adequate. A report from CSIRO itself was not provided and no details were given, only general descriptions such as "Arsine was evident, but in very weak concentrations". The composition of the salt slag was not determined and so no direct correlations between the actual constituent concentrations in the samples and any gases could be established. Alcoa's comments speculated that phosphorus may be present as metal phosphate, which would not evolve into phosphine, but provided no evidence for this.

13. The analysis performed for Alcoa was not a standard procedure like a leaching test. To provide useful results, a properly designed series of experiments would be needed. These experiments would have to take into account the range of variation in the material and include old and new slag. It would also need to consider other variables, such as the amount of water present, the temperature, the pH and so forth.

14. On ecotoxicity, Alcoa recommended that a maximum leachate value of 20 mg/L be adopted, based on the Australian and World Health Organisation drinking water guidelines of 0.2 mg/L. This recommendation was not accepted because these drinking water guidelines were set on aesthetic grounds, to avoid customer complaints about milky-coloured water when a whitish gelatinous precipitate of aluminium hydroxide was formed after water treatment. No health-based guideline has been set on the available data, but NHMRC/ARMCANZ will keep this issue under review. Meanwhile, Australian water authorities are strongly encouraged to keep acid-soluble aluminium concentrations as low as possible, preferably below 0.1 mg/L. It is clearly not possible to draw conclusions about ecotoxicity from an aesthetic guideline of this kind.

15. The meeting agreed that, as foreshadowed in Information Paper No. 5, consideration should now be given to the use of marine and fresh water trigger values in place of the drinking water criteria for some metals. In addition to the high reliability values for cadmium, lead and mercury, particular consideration should be given to beryllium and thallium. For these two metals, NHMRC/ARMCANZ had not adopted drinking water guidelines but ANZECC/ARMCANZ had set an environmental concern level for beryllium and low reliability trigger values for thallium. These metals would provide a model for dealing with aluminium because NHMRC/ARMCANZ had not adopted a health-based drinking water guideline for aluminium, but ANZECC/ARMCANZ had set low reliability marine and freshwater trigger values.

16. Because the ANZECC/ARMCANZ trigger values are calculated at different protection levels, more work was needed on how best to set leachate limits based on marine and fresh water trigger values. The meeting recommended that Jenny Stauber should chair a subcommittee to discuss this. An appropriate expert could be co-opted as a member of the subcommittee and the secretariat would provide the necessary support.

17. The meeting noted that Alcoa had expressed concerns that the setting of a significantly low maximum leachate value for aluminium could potentially have implications for a variety of other wastes. In practice this is unlikely because wastes containing aluminium are not controlled as such under the Basel Convention. They are controlled only if they fall into one of the categories contained in Annex I, and these categories do not include aluminium. In the case of salt slag, the relevant category is Y18, "residues arising from industrial waste disposal operations".

18. Wastes that fall into any category contained in Annex I are defined as hazardous wastes for the purposes of the Basel Convention, unless they do not possess any of the hazardous characteristics contained in Annex III. This means that if a waste, such as salt slag, falls into any category in Annex I, it is presumed to be hazardous unless sufficient evidence is presented to rebut that presumption.

(i) Statement of decision to refuse a permit to export waste containing compressed asbestos fibres

19. The meeting noted the agenda paper.

Item 5 International meetings

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

20. The meeting noted the agenda paper.

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 3 December 2004