Department of the Environment

About us | Contact us | Publications

Settlements Header ImageSettlements Header ImageSettlements Header Image

Publications archive - Hazardous waste

Disclaimer

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Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time.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 — 72nd meeting

Friday 11 February 2005
8.30 am - 4.30 pm
Uluru Room, Fourth Floor, John Gorton Building
King Edward Terrace, PARKES ACT 2600

Download the minutes

The Minutes are also available as a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer to view the PDF file.


Minutes

Present:

Chair

Professor Paul Greenfield

Members

Dr Peter Di Marco
Dr Robyn Eckersley
Mr John Hogan
Mr Stephen Moore
Dr Peter Nadebaum
Dr Neill Stacey
Dr Geoff Syme

Observer

Dr Bro Sheffield-Brotherton

Secretariat

Mr Robert Angel
Dr Geoff Thompson Dr Greg Rippon

Apologies

Ms Diane Kovacs
Dr Jenny Stauber
Dr Peter Scaife

Item 1. Minutes

(a) Draft Minutes of the 71st meeting

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

Item 2. Matters arising

(a) Current list of members

2. The meeting amended the list.

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

(a) Permit report for previous twelve months

3. Responding to a question about the permit granted to Nuplex to export solvent waste to New Zealand, the secretariat advised that the facility in Albury had stated that their process may be able to recover solvents from liquid or semiliquid wastes, depending on material type and compatibility with operation conditions, but the type of waste supplied by the applicant was not suitable for their recycling process.

4. Members discussed the fire involving lithium/sulphur dioxide batteries at the Toxfree site in Western Australia. There was understood to have been another fire at the site, although this did not involve lithium batteries.

5. The status of the application to export solder dross to Belgium was raised and the secretariat advised that PWT had withdrawn their application. Consolidated Alloys Pty Ltd had applied for a permit instead.

(b) Environmental Manager Issue 511.

6. According to the agenda paper, Berjak Nominees Vic Pty Ltd had dropped an appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal over Customs' cancellation of an export authority for zinc top dross. This issue had been brought to the attention of the Technical Group at the time because members had been asked to assist by giving evidence.

(c) Environmental Manager Issue 512.

7. According to the agenda paper, ARV International Pty Ltd had not complied with an order to dispose of imported zinc sulfate, contaminated with cadmium, before the company was deregistered in 2004. The Policy Reference Group issue had discussed on 19 September 2003, when members favoured strengthening the Minister's powers to order persons to deal with hazardous waste. The Department was developing appropriate amendments to the Act.

Item 4 Technical issues arising from applications and inquiries

(a) Liberation of ammonia from salt slag

8. The meeting agreed that ammonia was a poison in the sense that the term was used in the Basel Convention.

(b) Update of Tomago Aluminium spent potlining processes

(c) Spent potliner Re-processing: status report by Regain Services Pty. Limited

9. The Chair welcomed Ray Davies and Warren Brooks from Tomago, and Bernie and John Cooper from Regain.

10. Ray Davies presented a summary of how the exports of SPL had been handled, and the state of SPL storage as of May 2004 and December 2004. Essentially, the stocks had decreased from 39,000 tonnes in May 2004 to 29,000 tonnes (including 7,000 tonnes in containers ready for export) in December 2004.

11. Regain had processed a small quantity of SPL because they had been fully engaged in crushing the SPL for export, although this has enabled much of shed 5 to be cleared which will facilitate future SPL processing operations. Although the crushing plant has capacity to crush up to 400 tonnes per day, for logistical reasons - primarily concerned with space for crushing and curing the processed material - it was not possible for Regain to divide its activities between processing for export and processing for trials and sale to domestic cement and brick manufacturing industries.

12. Ray then presented a graph showing projected SPL arisings over 2005: similar figures were anticipated over 2006 and 2007. The Chair expressed concern that processing the SPL could fail to match arisings, but Ray replied that now that Regain had sufficient space for their crushing and curing operations, they should be in a position to process all new arisings generated after January 2005.

13. Warren Brooks added that logistical problems had meant a bad year for processing during 2004, but that these problems should have now been removed. However, Tomago had been looking at alternative processes in the event that Regain were not able to meet the target. Progress in the development of a process for SPL treatment by Alcan in Canada was not promising. Although they were planning a facility for processing 50-100,000 tones of SPL per year at a capital cost of about $150 million, export to this facility was unlikely because of the huge SPL backlog in Canada. There were also uncertainties about the disposal or re use routes for the products from the process.

14. Boyne smelter was starting to trial the recycling of mixed (carbon and refractory based) SPL in a cement kiln at Gladstone, and that it is possible that Tomago could also try this. However, despite overseas acceptance of the use of alternate fuels in the cement industry, progress had been very slow in gaining approval for trials of Regain's product at the Blue Circle cement kiln in Berrima in NSW. Regain was able to supply processed SPL as a fuel to the Blue Circle's kiln at Waurn Ponds in Victoria, but NSW and Victoria do not have a harmonised approach at this stage. It had taken Regain around 8 years to gain full approval from the Victorian authorities to use Waurn Ponds, but the Berrima proposal had been put forward to the NSW authorities only 12 months ago. There were many regulatory and community concern issues to be addressed.

15. Bernie Cooper advised that because Regain have had a long association with Selkirk Brisks in Victoria, they had been concentrating on placing the refractory SPL into that market. The Selkirk facility has fluoride scrubbers, from which material that contains fluoride is recovered and used in cement kilns as a flux, substantially lowering the operating temperatures of the kilns. So far Regain has been supplying two cement kilns and one brickworks with product.

16. Bernie stated that the Tomago plant is still a demonstration plant, but it is to be replaced by a permanent facility that will use the excisting crusher. Regain expected that building and commissioning of the plant would take only about 3 months since all the heavy equipment had been ordered or was on hand, as was the necessary service infrastructure such as gas and power. Regain is operating under a series of short-term contracts with Tomago, but given the present stage of development of market outlets this was perfectly acceptable to both companies. Negotiations for a longer-term contract were proceeding smoothly.

17. In reply to a question, Bernie said that all the technical problems had been overcome. Regain were confident that they could reduce cyanide levels in the SPL from around 4,000 ppm to 20 ppm and after adequate curing the products would not liberate toxic or flammable gases if brought into contact with water. The problem of build up of "rings" of material in the kiln could now be adequately managed.

18. He added that it was more cost effective to process the SPL in Australia than to export to Italy, primarily because of the cost of shipping to Italy. The commercial risk in going ahead at Tomago was now much reduced and demand from the cement kilns and brickworks currently being supplied with processed SPL was increasing.

19. Warren Brooks stated that Tomago agreed that all technical problems with the process had been solved, and the issue now was getting the "tonnes of processed SPL out the gate". It was now necessary to demonstrate true operational sustainability by processing and marketing at a level sufficient to deal with arisings over the next year.

20. The meeting expressed the view that, although there were clearly commercial pressures to be dealt with, the members were much more comfortable with developments. Members looked forward to receiving reports on progress over the coming months.

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

21. Geoff Thompson briefly outlined the reasons behind the need for the new criteria and the history of their development. These efforts had culminated in the industry working group finalising the criteria at a meeting on 4 February 2005. Additional comments from the Technical Group would, of course, be welcome.

22. In general the meeting agreed with the methodology advanced in the document, but noted that within 2 to 3 years the testing regime outlined in the criteria would need to be in accord with the ISO 14001 management system. This should be brought to the attention of users as soon as practicable. The secretariat stated that this could be addressed in the Proposed Future Actions paper that is still under development.

23. The meeting considered the draft evidentiary certificate on export under warranty, attached to the criteria, and agreed that it should be made.

(e) Statement of reasons for decision to grant a permit to export photocopier hulks to Thailand

(f) Statement of reasons for decision to grant a permit to export used electrical equipment containing residual toner to Thailand

(h) Letter from Close the Loop in response to the Statement of reasons for granting the waste toner cartridge export permit to Fuji Xerox

24. These three items were considered together. Members asked whether there were likely to be any challenges to the export permits. The secretariat advised that there had been no request for a review of the decisions by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. However, given comments that had been made by some Australian recycling companies, it seemed likely that renewal of the permits might attract some opposition.

(i) Export of e-TAGs: Environmental Review: part 1

(j) Export of e-TAGs: Environmental Review: part 2

25. The secretariat advised that since the proposed export would entail the disposal of some explosive batteries to landfill in Sweden, it would be necessary to treat it as an application for a Basel Permit in accordance with the exceptional circumstances provisions of the Act. The meeting agreed that this conclusion could not be avoided: the same rule applied to all exports regardless of the amount of material to be disposed of.

(k) Waste/non-waste status of ALOX

26. The Sims Group had asked for advice on whether ALOX is a hazardous waste for the purposes of export to South Africa and Germany. Sims produce the material, at their Laverton secondary aluminium facility, by blending granulated aluminium dross together with the residue left after sodium and potassium chloride have been leached from salt slag for recovery of the salt.

27. There is a market for the ALOX type material in Australia as an additive in steel making, but a competitor is currently supplying this market with a similar product. In South Africa and in Germany the ALOX would also be used in the steel industry, but some could be blended into thermit-type incendiary products.

28. The meeting noted that the ALOX Product Specification Sheet simply contained the results of an analysis. There was probably a limit on chloride and a size limit. More information would be needed to make a decision. This should include more details about how the material was produced and the various specifications used. Sims should be asked to work through all of the questions in Information Paper No. 2.

Item 5 International meetings

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

29. The Group noted the agenda paper.

Item 6. Criteria for separating hazardous from non-hazardous wastes

(a) Report from the subcommittee on setting leachate limits based on marine and fresh water trigger values

(b) Draft third edition of Information Paper No 5, Guidance on whether wastes containing metals or metal compounds are regulated under the Hazardous Waste Act

(c) 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

30. The meeting expressed reservations about using a dilution and attenuation factor of 100 for ecotoxicological exposures. In New Zealand an additional tenfold dilution had been allowed for surface water. One member commented that it seemed appropriate to use more conservative values for humans than for other living organisms. It was clear that the lack of a widely accepted model for dilution and attenuation would be a major problem for the immediate future, and members asked that the secretariat investigate the sediment quality and contaminated soil guidelines.

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

31. There was no discussion of these items.

Item 11. Other business

32. There was no other business.

Item 12. Dates of next meetings

(a) Friday 18 March 2005

(b) Friday 15 April 2005

(c) Friday 20 May 2005