EPA approves waste-to-energy

An illustration of the GSWT waste-to-energy plant approved by EPA Victoria.

By Cam Lucadou-Wells

A controversial waste-to-energy plant in Dandenong South has been granted works approval by the state’s pollution watchdog Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA).

The applicant Great Southern Waste Technologies was granted approval for the 70 Ordish Road gasificiation incinerator with “stringent conditions”, according to an EPA statement on 21 July.

The project still requires planning approval – a matter which will be heard at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal on 27 July.

GSWT is also required to apply for an EPA licence.

In its findings, the EPA stated the “potential air emissions … pose negligible risk to human health”.

The proposed air emission, odour and noise pollution controls were “consistent with international best practice standards of the European Union”.

The EPA found that the plant’s 1.4 kilometre distance from the closest residents and Mt Hira College was “acceptable”.

The site is in an industrial 2 zone, the home to the most offensive industries.

Within five kilometres are two primary schools, two colleges, three kindergartens and a maternal and child health centre.

During the protracted nine-month approval process, GSWT was several times requested to supply more information to the EPA, including on the issue of emissions.

Schools and residents in Keysborough, including a 280-signature petition, strongly opposed the plant due to pollution and health concerns.

Keysborough resident Helen, of the South East Environment Group, said she was “shocked” by the EPA ruling.

“We saw the EPA were getting very cautious about the project.”

GSWT director Bill Keating said that he was “pretty neutral” about the decision. He was unsure how it would impact on the upcoming VCAT case.

“We’re just following processes and we’ll see where that takes us.”

The plant would process 100,000 tonnes a year of municipal household solid waste, commercial and industrial waste to produce 7.9 MW of electricity to the grid.

Municipal household waste, which would be diverted from landfill, was estimated to make up 80 per cent of the feeder material.

In June, GSWT missed the shortlist for a 16-council consortia’s tender for advanced waste solutions.

The consortia included Greater Dandenong Council, which deferred a planning-permit decision on the plant until EPA had assessed the project.

The EPA’s works approval is subject to an audit of the plant’s final detailed design and meeting “world’s best environmental practice standards”.

The plant’s air emission pollution controls must be “upgradable” to meet stricter emission limits in the future, according to the EPA’s conditions.

 

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