Orica Convenes Public Meeting on Botany HCB Waste
4 December, 2000
Orica Australia is to hold a public meeting to discuss its proposal for the destruction of hexachlorobenzene (HCB) waste held at its Botany site.
The meeting is to be held on Tuesday 5 December, 2000 at the City of Botany Bay Town Hall, Botany Road, Botany, commencing at 7.30pm. Orica's proposal for the destruction of the waste will be discussed at the meeting, as will the consultation process to be followed to ensure all community issues are properly considered.
Orica Botany environment manager, Bruce Gotting said the company wants to ensure that members of the community have every opportunity to have their opinions and concerns about the project fully considered during the planning process. He said Orica would welcome a Commission of Enquiry if one is called.
"Our objective is to come up with the best solution to the problem of disposal of this waste. We can only do that by continuing to work totally openly with our neighbours. We will support community representatives in calling for a Commission of Enquiry should they consider that is the best way of achieving full transparency of the process" Mr. Gotting said.
The public meeting will have invited speakers from the NSW Department of Urban Affairs and Planning (DUAP), NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA). Botany Bay City Council and members of the Community Participation and Review Committee which has been monitoring the implementation of the HCB Waste Management Plan for the past 2 years.
"We welcome anyone who has an interest in this matter to be there to take part in the discussion," Mr Gotting said.
The hexachlorobenzene (HCB) waste was accumulated over many years of solvents and plastics manufacture on the Botany site. None has been produced since 1991. HCB is a grey crystalline powder, of low volatility. The Botany waste is stored in a purpose built facility on the site. A total of 10,000 tonnes, stored in 60,000 drums, is held.
HCB Waste Management Plan
Orica (formerly ICI Australia) has sought environmentally responsible disposal of this material for many years. In the 1980's, the material was pledged to government proposals for a national waste facility, which did not eventuate. The 1990's saw the development by the federal government of waste management plans for each category of hazardous waste, now called scheduled waste. The HCB Waste Management Plan was issued in 1996 and is administered by the NSW EPA. The Plan details how the choice of destruction technology is to be arrived at, the timeframe for destruction and the emission levels the facility must meet.
A Community Participation and Review Committee, with an independent chairman, has overseen the implementation of the HCB Waste Management Plan since 1997. The broader local community has been kept informed of progress through a newsletter distributed to 4000 local residents. 13 editions of the newsletter have been distributed.
Proposed Destruction Technology
Orica has spent $5m investigating over 50 technologies for the destruction task, and has undertaken large scale trials with two of them. The selection process has been reviewed at the quarterly meeting of the Community Participation and Review Committee. Following the large scale trials, Orica has nominated the GeoMelt Technology as the preferred option. It was preferred over the other short listed candidate, Ecologic because of its relative simplicity and greater flexibility in the materials it can handle. Either technology is estimated to cost of the order of $80 million to complete the destruction of the waste.