Community representatives have welcomed the dropping of the incinerator component from the proposed waste facility in Fyshwick but remain concerned that the proposal is still being assessed in a policy vacuum, with the ACT Waste Feasibility Study still not completed.
Capital Recycling Solutions Director Adam Perry, who conducted a site inspection last week with community representatives, said the waste-to-energy plant option had been withdrawn due to the strong community concern about emissions and air quality.
He said that the proposal would now consist of a much larger recycling plant and the rail terminal, from which the waste residues would be sent to the Woodlawn bioreactor.
According to the new Government scoping document to account for the altered proposal, CRS will have to show there are no health and environmental impacts from odour and affected air quality, as well as carry out a noise assessment.
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It also requests clarification on how much of the 300,000 tonnes of Mugga Lane waste CRS says could be diverted by the facility.
“On page 7 of the report, it is stated that the facility could divert up to 90% of the Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) and Commercial and Industrial (C&I) waste streams, while on page 32 of the report there is mention of over 20% resource recovery. Further detail and evidence to support a claim on estimated recovery rates is needed,” the scoping report says.
Mr Perry said the Materials Recovery Facility would not be accepting green or building and construction waste but only be taking waste that would be going to the tip face at Mugga Lane – “just what’s in the red bins, and what’s in the commercial bins at the back of offices, shops and restaurants”.
“We can pull out recyclables like PET, HDPE, cardboard, paper, wood and then everything else that can’t be commercially recycled or recycled at all, which is probably 80 per cent of the waste stream, can go straight to Woodlawn,” he said.
He said the recycling plant would have to be expanded substantially to house compactors that would produce bales of shredded recyclable material that can then be railed to markets. Other compactors will stuff non-recyclable waste into watertight containers that will be railed to Woodlawn for landfill.
“Under the previous proposal the residues would have gone straight by conveyor belt to the waste-to-energy plant but under this proposal, we have to build large compactors within the odour and noise controlled building,” he said.
This would not leave any room for a future waste-to-energy plant on this site.
Mr Perry said that while CRS still believed waste to energy was a good idea and would be seen more in Australia in the future, it was no longer part of the company’s plans for Canberra.
“Just because this is approved doesn’t mean in any way that waste-to-energy will come to Canberra,” he said.
Mr Perry said that same vacuum-style building and odour control systems that CRS was proposing were already in use in Sydney.
“You can stand near them and not smell a thing,” he said.
The draft EIS was expected to be completed in ‘weeks, not months’.
Chair of the Inner South Canberra Community Council Marea Fatseas suggested the Government was putting the cart before the horse by considering a proposal such as this without the Waste Feasibility Study which was supposed to be finished by mid-2017 and provide options for dealing with Canberra’s waste.
She said approving the proposal would be a departure from the current Waste Management Strategy, which was focused on the Mugga Lane tip and the Hume recycling facility.
“It would be good if anything that happens is within a policy context, thought through, and discussed with the community rather than just coming out of a particular proposal,” she said.
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