Shared asbestos dump option

EBAC remediation general manager Barry Dungey said he was open to exploring a shared site, however, was on a very tight schedule. file photograph

EBAC remediation general manager Barry Dungey said he was open to exploring a shared site, however, was on a very tight schedule. file photograph

Morwell Power Station liquidator Energy Brix Australia Corporation will continue to investigate the possibility of establishing a shared asbestos disposal cell with ENGIE's Hazelwood Power Station.

It comes after Latrobe City Council again deferred making a decision on EBAC's application to establish the cell on site at Morwell Power Station.

Council officers initially recommended councillors vote to support EBAC's application with conditions, however, an alternate motion was put forward to defer the decision to allow time for the shared option to be further explored.

At previous council meetings, Cr Graeme Middlemiss stated EBAC's proposed cell was too close to the Morwell township and suggested a shared cell with Hazelwood Power Station, located further away from Morwell, would be a more appropriate option.

A council report stated multiple meetings had taken place between council officers, councillors, EBAC, ENGIE, EPA and DELWP representatives since the July council meeting.

"Discussion at this meeting was considered to be quite positive with all parties open to the consideration of the use of the asbestos cell associated with the proposed demolition of the Hazelwood Power Station, to be also used to store asbestos associated with the Morwell Power Station," the report read.

"It is noted for this to be achieved a number of issues need to be worked through including financial, risk, liability and environmental considerations for ENGIE and EBAC to consider as well as government agencies.

"It will also require a variation to the status of the ENGIE licence associated with their approved asbestos landfill site from a private landfill to a commercial landfill licence if they are to take the asbestos waste associated with the Morwell Power Station."

Speaking to the council meeting, EBAC site remediation manager Barry Dungey said EBAC has suggested a shared site 18 months ago, however, stated the idea had "lacked EPA support".

"That seems to have changed somewhat with the support of council," he said.

"We are happy to explore that option but we are on a very limited timeframe.

"We need to get an exemption from the minister in regards to EBAC having to display disposal fees, get appropriate licences ... and ENGIE need to agree on disposal costs that are reasonable."

Mr Dungey said EBAC may still need to move some asbestos "down the road" to a disposal facility on the other side of Melbourne, as demolition of the power station is still slated for September.

"ENGIE are saying their disposal cell will not be ready until April," he said.

"Certainly, from one perspective, [having] one disposal hole makes sense, we certainly aimed for that.

"I have a limited budget ... and therefore costs need to match what we would get on our on-site disposal."

However, Mr Dungey said if the decision-making process stretched on for too long, there would be "no point" in building an asbestos cell if it would only be taking half of the asbestos.

EPA chief executive Nial Finnegan said there had been no alternative proposal received, assessed or rejected.

"EPA's focus is on ensuring any proposal is assessed promptly, according to the legislation and meets EPA's objective of protecting human health and the environment from the harmful effects of pollution and waste," he said.

"EPA is continuing to provide regulatory advice to relevant parties about approval processes should alternative asbestos disposal options be pursued by EBAC, ENGIE or any other entity.

"Ultimately it is a business decision for EBAC, ENGIE and others as to which option they want to pursue. EPA will process any future proposal on its merits, consistent with relevant legislation. " 

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