Waste energy a burning issue

KWINANA and Rockingham residents do not want Fremantle’s household wastes dumped in their backyard.

They told a waste forum on Tuesday that plans to incinerate rubbish generated by Fremantle, Melville and Cockburn was not sustainable and a threat to public health.

Anti-toxic campaigners warn the technologies used to turn waste to energy have flaws which have been identified at sites in the US and Europe.

The Alliance for a Clean Environment says plans by councils to send wastes to two incinerators will shift a serious public health threat into someone else’s backyard.

It says the preferred Phoenix energy waste to energy incinerator is a threat to sustainable waste management and development of renewable energy technologies.

The Kwinana plant is basically a mass combustion unit while the Rockingham plant is expected to take mostly industrial wastes, the latter under review by the EPA.

Campaigner Jane Bremmer says the WA Liberal Party is flogging a “dead horse” at a time when the rest of the world turns away from waste to energy incineration.

“There is no mandate in WA to establish this dirty energy industry and the communities in Kwinana and Rockingham which already face disproportionate pollution impacts will carry the greatest environmental burden imposed by unelected and unaccountable regional councils which want to make Kwinana and Rockingham WA’s waste dumping ground.”

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt says he is relatively comfortable with the air emissions issue: “Kwinana will meet the highest EU standards for emissions.

“The evidence I have seen has dealt with that.”

Dr Pettitt says the technology had come a long way in recent decades and offers a better alternative to landfill.

“It is however an inferior option to recycling and composting and any commitment by the Fremantle council to supporting our waste going to the proposed facility must be done in such a way that it does not undermine either of these higher order treatments.”

But Ms Bremmer, who was at the forum, describes as rubbish industry claims the incinerators only emit small amounts of dioxin, a persistent organic pollutant and classified carcinogen, because there is no safe level of exposure to dioxin.

She says only a robust regulatory framework can ensure public health is not compromised by emissions across residential areas of dioxin, mercury and nanoparticles (particles a millionth of a centimeter in length).

She says waste to energy incinerators are the dirtiest form of energy production and emit more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere per unit of energy than coal or gas.

“For every four tonnes of waste burnt, one tonne of toxic ash is created requiring secure landfill,” she says. “More jobs are created through composting and recycling than burning our waste in incinerators.”

She cites several overseas reports and investigations in which New Jersey-based Covanta Energy was forced to pay $355,000 into a special fund as part of a settlement with the US department of environmental protection.

The 2010 settlement was paid after the company was found to have exceeded permitted limits for dioxin emissions at a facility in Wallingford, Connecticut.

It also copped a $14,025 fine for causing air pollution in New Jersey in the same year and $7653 for failing to report other air quality violations at its Pittsfield plant in 2008.


One response to “Waste energy a burning issue

  1. Well Mr Petitt, my children and I live within 2000m of this proposal as well as several primary schools . Would you be happy for your child to be this close to the stack of this facility? Try watching the doco Trashed by Jeremy Irons and see if you still feel comfortable with these levels. I bet you would not allow your children to live and attend school within cooee of it.

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