Plan to turn household waste into energy

HUNDREDS of tonnes of household rubbish will be burnt and turned into energy, if a project in the Latrobe Valley goes ahead.

Australian Paper Australia Pty Ltd has lodged a works approval application with Environment Protection Authority Victoria seeking to develop a large-scale energy from waste facility which would employ hundreds of people during the construction phase.

The energy from waste facility is proposed to be co-located within the boundaries of the Australian Paper site in Maryvale in the Latrobe Valley.

The proposed plant would generate steam and electricity, which could be directly used in the paper mill and its operations, or power could be exported to the grid.

It would replace two existing gas-fired boilers, and produce about 30 megawatts of electricity and 150 tonnes per hour of steam.

Australian Paper proposes that the facility would accept and use an estimated 650,000 tonnes per annum of municipal solid waste (80 per cent) and commercial and industrial waste (20 per cent) from the Melbourne and Gippsland regions.

Waste will be collected from the existing waste collection network and transferred to site via road and rail.

Gippsland MHR Darren Chester described the lodgement of the works approval as an “exciting step forward for a project that promises big benefits for the Latrobe Valley” as Australian Paper progressed its $7.5 million feasibility study.

He said the acceptance by the EPA of Australian Paper’s application for assessment now meant a community consultation phase would begin.

Mr Chester recently announced $2.5 million from the Federal Government toward the feasibility phase to undertake the planning, design and cost estimation for the construction of an energy from waste plant.

If the feasibility study shows the project would be successful, Australian Paper will build a $600 million waste energy plant adjacent to the Maryvale Mill, which would create 800 direct construction jobs and more than 40 permanent jobs in the Latrobe Valley.

“This is the exciting next stage in the project,” Mr Chester said.

“Obviously there is great potential for economic benefits for Gippsland and the Latrobe Valley, but we need to get the environmental protocols right, and this community consultation phase will allow locals to have their say on the project and seek answers to any concerns they may have.

“Australian Paper is already the biggest private employer in Gippsland.

“This is an opportunity for hundreds of jobs for Gippsland and right across Victoria.

“Turning waste into energy has real potential for reducing operating costs at Australian paper [and] also creating new jobs for Gippsland.

“The biggest issue in Gippsland right now is jobs.

“I think this is an exciting project, its proven technology around the world, and we just need to make sure it can work here in Gippsland.”

The majority of the waste products will be nonrecyclable household rubbish, but there will also be some waste product from manufacturing facilities, shopping centres and office buildings.

EPA assessments executive director Tim Eaton said this application was the first in Victoria for a large-scale energy from waste plant using municipal solid waste.

“EPA invites the community and interested parties to review the application and make submissions which will be considered in EPA’s assessment of the application,” he said.

“EPA’s assessment of the application will consider issues such as use of best practice technology, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions, waste fuel composition, compliance with waste hierarchy, environmental management and potential risks to human health and the environment including emissions to air, noise, disposal of fly ash, the wastewater treatment system, and operational contingencies.”

The application and a summary of it can be viewed and downloaded by visiting the EPA’s website.

Hard copies can also be viewed by appointment at EPA’s Gippsland office in Traralgon, phone 1300 372 842, or at Australian Paper’s information centre, which is open to the public Tuesday to Friday from 9am to 3pm at 126 George St Morwell, or phone 5191 9338.

Three public open house information sessions will also be held between 2pm to 7pm Tuesday and Wednesday at the Premiere Function Centre, 29 Grey St, Traralgon, and on June 19 at Australian Paper’s information centre in Morwell.

During these times, residents and interested people are invited to drop in and view information about EPA’s works approval process, Australian Paper’s proposal and find out how they can get involved in the process.

EPA and Australian Paper staff will attend. Members of the community have until June 27 to lodge submissions through the EPA’s website, or by writing to EPA Victoria at Development Assessment Unit, GPO Box 4395 Melbourne Victoria 3001.