26 August 2020

Community urged to comment on draft EIS for giant waste hub proposal in Fyshwick

| Ian Bushnell
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Tennant Street entrance

The site entrance on Tennant Street, Fyshwick. Photo: Hi-Quality Group.

Air and water pollution concerns, asbestos storage and traffic management are among a host of issues being raised by community groups opposed to the massive waste processing hub being proposed in Fyshwick.

Sydney-based construction products supplier and recycler Hi-Quality Group wants to build an Integrated Resource Recovery Facility at a 10-hectare site it owns in Tennant Street. It has lodged its draft Environmental Impact Study with the planning authority and is conducting community consultation.

The Inner South Canberra Community Council, which recently declared general opposition to more waste or recycling facilities in Fyshwick, is urging nearby residents and businesses to make submissions before public comment closes on 17 September.

It says the EIS does not describe how dust will be suppressed, or address the health impact of microscopic airborne particulates on the 13,400 workers in Fyshwick or nearby residents.

The Council further noted that the EIS does not cover the risk of fire with stockpiles of flammable waste, the environmental impact of heavy metals entering the nearby Molonglo River and wetland, the impact of half a million heavy truck movements each year on Fyshwick business operations or the health of their workers.

The draft EIS says the project will receive, process and store commercial and industrial waste (dry); construction and demolition waste; liquid waste such as grease trap contents, drilling mud and oily water, wood, soil and material containing asbestos.

The site is forecast to process around 1.1 million tonnes per annum (tpa) of waste, including about 500,000 tpa of non-waste materials for the existing concrete batching plant, the pre-cast concrete yard and the landscape yard. The hub will make over 950,000 tpa of saleable reuse product, including fuel pellets to be burned in waste-to-energy power plants.

There are some existing facilities on the site, including a concrete batching plant, but new ones will need to be built to store and process soil, liquid waste and wood waste, as well as a recycling, and a crushing and screening facility.

It is expected to run 16 hours a day, 50 weeks of the year.

Hi-Quality says the hub will provide a regional and cross-border approach to managing waste, and reduce the overall waste management footprint within the ACT and divert material from landfill.

Aerial view

An aerial view of the site. Images: Hi-Quality Group.

But according to a list of concerns compiled by the Kingston Barton Residents Group, the hub will be incompatible with neighbouring businesses in this location, its operations are too big for the site and pose significant threats to health, particularly from silica dust from the concrete batching plant.

KBRG says the amount of waste envisaged means much of it would have to come from interstate. Hi-Quality has a landfill at Windellama in the Goulburn Mulwaree Shire, 90 km from Canberra, but it is not clear in the EIS from where it will source all of its material.

It says the company is looking at Canberra as a cheaper and easier place to do business than NSW.

Waste in NSW cannot be transported if it is more than 150 km from its source, but can be taken to another state or territory if the border is more than 150 km from its origin and is closer to those premises than the closest or second closest place in NSW that can lawfully be used for the disposal of that waste.

The inner south groups have also questioned the record of the company which has run foul of the NSW EPA for breaching regulations in that state.

The draft EIS says that its air quality study shows that, given the conservative modelling and mitigation measures proposed, the potential impacts will be low.

Proposed site layout

The proposed site layout.

The traffic report provides a worst-case scenario of 80 vehicle movements an hour in peak times accessing the site via Newcastle Street/Barrier Street/Collie Street.

It says the project is not anticipated to compromise the safety or function of the surrounding road network, including key intersections, and no road network upgrades are considered necessary.

The project will include sedimentation ponds and a dam to deal with stormwater run-off.

Hi-Quality is hosting online and face-to-face Q&A sessions to answer questions related to the project.

Between 29 August and 6 September, two online sessions will be held via Zoom and one face-to-face Q&A session will be hosted at a yet-to-be-determined venue in Kingston, subject to COVID-19 restrictions.

The Q&A sessions will consist of multiple 15-minute allocated spots to ensure adherence to COVID-Safe protocols for face-to-face sessions and will enable individual attention in online sessions.

To learn more visit Hi-Quality Group.

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