ROCKY ROAD FOR WASTE BURNER

The Sunday Times - - NEWS - JOHN FLINT

MOST of Perth’s mu­nic­i­pal and com­mer­cial waste might soon be trucked to Premier Mark McGowan’s seat of Rock­ing­ham for waste-to-en­ergy in­cin­er­a­tion.

A 20-year land­mark deal was made on Wed­nes­day night by the East­ern Metropoli­tan Re­gional Coun­cil for all its resid­ual waste — 120,000 tonnes a year — to be sent to the East Rock­ing­ham Re­source Re­cov­ery Fa­cil­ity from 2021.

The con­sor­tium be­hind Perth’s first waste-to-en­ergy project is also in ad­vanced ne­go­ti­a­tions for a sim­i­lar deal with Min­darie Re­gional Coun­cil, which rep­re­sents Perth’s north­ern coun­cils. It is also ne­go­ti­at­ing with south­ern sub­urbs’ coun­cils to take their waste.

When built, the fa­cil­ity will have the ca­pac­ity to re­ceive 300,000 tonnes a year.

Resid­ual waste is house­hold and com­mer­cial rub­bish not able to be re­cy­cled, reused or com­posted. It goes to land­fill but the con­sor­tium aims to con­vert it into base load re­new­able en­ergy, pro­duc­ing 28MW at full ca­pac­ity — enough to power 36,000 homes.

The Na­tional Tox­ics Net­work con­demned the EMRC deal, say­ing it paved the way for Rock­ing­ham to be­come “the State’s new waste-burn­ing cen­tre”.

“Not only is burn­ing our resid­ual waste a fast track to air pol­lu­tion and toxic ash land­fills, this in­dus­try has no so­cial li­cence to op­er­ate in WA,” WA co-or­di­na­tor Jane Brem­mer said.

“It is sim­ply burn­ing fos­sil fu­els in the dirt­i­est of ways while pro­duc­ing some of the most toxic and dan­ger­ous pol­lu­tants on the planet such as diox­ins.”

The con­sor­tium, which com­prises Zurich-based Hi­tachi Zosen Inova, Perth-based New En­ergy Cor­po­ra­tion and Tribe In­fra­struc­ture Group, first has to get en­vi­ron­men­tal ap­proval to pro­ceed with the fa­cil­ity, which it says will cre­ate 300 jobs dur­ing con­struc­tion — due to start post-July — and 50 full­time jobs through­out its 30-plus year op­er­at­ing life.

It will be on Of­fice Road, East Rock­ing­ham, which is within the Kwinana Strate­gic In­dus­trial Area.

New En­ergy chief ex­ec­u­tive Ja­son Pugh said the con­sor­tium had suf­fi­cient time to get ap­provals and build the plant be­fore tak­ing waste in 2021.

HZI hailed the EMRC deal, say­ing its “mov­ing grate com­bus­tion tech­nol­ogy is the best of its kind glob­ally”.

“HZI is a clear leader in the waste-to-en­ergy mar­ket world­wide,” man­ag­ing di­rec­tor (Aus­tralia) Dr Marc Stamm­bach said. “We have suc­cess­fully de­liv­ered projects in ma­jor global cap­i­tals such as London and Paris. Im­por­tantly, we stay with the project from con­cep­tion through con­struc­tion, and once the project is com­mis­sioned, we then lead the op­er­a­tions and main­te­nance ac­tiv­i­ties for the life of the plant.

“This con­ti­nu­ity will en­sure Perth’s first waste-to-en­ergy project is a suc­cess­ful one.

“The WA En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Au­thor­ity has bench­marked Euro­pean stan­dards as best-prac­tice for wasteto-en­ergy tech­nolo­gies and emis­sions. HZI has been suc­cess­fully build­ing and op­er­at­ing fa­cil­i­ties to these stan­dards for many years and are con­tin­u­ing to win new work on this ba­sis.”

New En­ergy chair­man Enzo Gul­lotti said the project sup­ported the WA Gov­ern­ment’s ag­gres­sive tar­gets for land­fill di­ver­sion.

“The EMRC’s de­ci­sion demon­strates a clear com­mit­ment to di­vert waste away from land­fills,” he said. Be­fore the deal can be fi­nalised, EMRC’s mem­ber coun­cils have to sign off on “var­i­ous agree­ments re­quired un­der the ar­range­ment with HZI”.

EMRC chair­man Cr David Fardig was con­fi­dent in mov­ing for­ward with the con­tract.

“The EMRC’s pri­or­ity has, and will al­ways con­tinue to be, the ef­fi­cient and sus­tain­able man­age­ment of waste and re­cov­ery of re­sources from waste streams,” he said. “This project is part of the EMRC’s in­te­grated waste man­age­ment plans which also in­clude de­vel­op­ment of the Re­source Re­cov­ery Park at Hazelmere.”

Last year, MRC joined EMRC in its public ten­der process, com­mit­ting 100,000 tonnes a year of its waste. On Thurs­day night, MRC de­ferred its de­ci­sion on whether to pro­ceed.

MRC chair­man Cr Russ Fish­wick said the mat­ter had been de­ferred to a meet­ing on Novem­ber 9 be­cause of “un­cer­tainty with a num­ber of clauses in the cur­rent draft of the con­tract doc­u­ments that re­quire clar­i­fi­ca­tion from the pre­ferred ten­derer”.

One of the MRC’s mem­ber coun­cils, the City of Vin­cent, last month voted to hold off on any deal. It ad­vised MRC it was de­vel­op­ing a waste strat­egy with an aim of in­creas­ing its di­ver­sion lev­els through waste man­age­ment mea­sures higher up the waste hi­er­ar­chy than land­fill and en­ergy re­cov­ery.

“Un­til the waste strat­egy is fi­nalised, it would be pre­ma­ture and prej­u­di­cial for the city to com­mit any of its waste to a waste-to-en­ergy fa­cil­ity,” it said.

Ms Brem­mer praised the City of Vin­cent’s cau­tion and warned coun­cils that sign-up would cop “heavy fi­nan­cial penal­ties” if they did not sup­ply the con­tracted amounts of rub­bish for decades to come.

“This may lead to coun­cils im­port­ing rub­bish to send to the in­cin­er­a­tor be­cause their own re­cy­cling has sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced the waste they can sup­ply,” she said.

“This di­a­bol­i­cal agree­ment also means ratepay­ers will be slugged with ever in­creas­ing coun­cil rates to cover the penalty fees as they get bet­ter and bet­ter at re­cy­cling.”

Mr Pugh said he couldn’t com­ment on con­tract de­tails.

Land­mark deal: The East Rock­ing­ham Re­source Re­cov­ery Fa­cil­ity will be built on Of­fice Road in the Kwinana Strate­gic In­dus­trial Area.

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