Inkerman landfill facility (Waste Management Pacific SA operating as Cleanaway)
The EPA has approved altered licence conditions for Cleanaway to enable the disposal of a chemical used in the mining industry at the Inkerman landfill facility.
The following information will explain what the chemical is, how it is being disposed and the community consultation that has occurred.
In July 2017 the EPA received an application from Cleanaway, Redox and the Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) to safely dispose of the chemical sodium ethyl xanthate at the Inkerman landfill facility. The product would be transported to the Inkerman facility under escort of the MFS.
About 850 kg of the sodium ethyl xanthate was partially burnt as part of a small incident at the chemical’s distributor, Redox, at Dry Creek. As a result of the incident, a controlled burn was undertaken, however the burn failed to eliminate all traces of the substance. It was decided by the MFS to extinguish the fire and dispose of the remaining product thoroughly. The remaining product is about the same size as a fruit packing crate.
The EPA has been working with Cleanaway and Redox to develop a plan to safely dispose of the xanthate. In the meantime, the partially burnt material has been covered with sand as a temporary measure.
What is sodium ethyl xanthate?
This chemical was used as a flotation agent to separate ores in the mining industry, and is classified as a dangerous good due to it being highly combustible.
Are there any health impacts?
During combustion in the open, water vapour, carbon disulphide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide will be produced. This chemical makeup is similar to that of a diesel engine. The volume of gases produced are unlikely to be hazardous beyond 50 m from the combustion, and the nearest public area is 1.2 km away.
A study performed in 2016 showed that toxic levels for the chemicals produced would not be reached until a fire of 200 times the size of the planned burn.
How will the burn occur?
Xanthate will be disposed of in a controlled burn in the presence of Country Fire Service (CFS) officers. If conditions are deemed unsafe by the MFS, CFS, EPA or Cleanaway, the burn will not take place on that day. The product will be burnt in a location that is open, large and cleared. Ash from the combustion will be fixed in cement and directly disposed into the low level contaminated waste cell at the Inkerman landfill.
Has the burn taken place?
The burn occurred on 21 October as weather conditions were suitable. The community and council were informed 3 days prior to the burn.
Why has the EPA changed the licence conditions?
The EPA has consulted with the MFS, CFS, Cleanaway and community. Authorities have determined that the proposal to burn xanthate at Inkerman can be managed safely without a detrimental impact on the environment or community.
An amendment to Cleanaway’s EPA licence would be relaxed to allow for the burning of the waste at the Inkerman facility. Section 45(2) of the Environment Protection Act 1993 allows for a variation or revocation of licence condition under certain circumstances. Once the burn is completed, the licence condition will be void.
What are the proposed licence conditions?
- Burning of waste: must not cause or permit any waste to be burnt, other than not more than 850 kg of sodium ethyl xanthate
- Unauthorised fire reporting: in the event of an unauthorised fire, immediate action to extinguish any fires, notify the EPA within 2 hours of becoming aware of the fire and provide a written report with 72 hours of bring the fire under control.
How has the community been consulted?
In considering the proposal, the EPA sought community feedback as part of the notification process. Cleanaway also engaged with the Wakefield Regional Council and Inkerman Community Consultative Committee members. Cleanaway also met with the local community and the committee to provide additional information about the proposal. The EPA, MFS, CFS and Redox were also in attendance.