Michelle Lensink

Inkerman Landfill Facility

A question for the Minister for Environment - Inkerman waste disposal site.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: I seek leave to make an explanation before directing a
question to the Minister for Environment on the subject of the Inkerman waste disposal site.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: In July 2017, the EPA received an application from Cleanaway,
Redox and the Metropolitan Fire Service to safely dispose of the chemical sodium ethyl xanthate at
the Inkerman landfill facility. The product was to be transported to the Inkerman facility under the
escort of the MFS. A number of members of the community have raised serious concerns regarding
the transport and also how the disposal process would be managed.

On 28 September, a meeting was held in the local area involving the proponents, the CFS,
Wakefield Regional Council and some members of the local community. The expectation, following
the meeting, was that all questions raised would be responded to in order to address the concerns;
however, community members have been disappointed that they received a one-page fact sheet
which did not address the concerns.

On 16 October, my colleague in another place, the member for Goyder, wrote to the minister
expressing his concerns over the lack of communication and consultation. As far as I am aware he
has not received a response. Yesterday, the EPA approved the application. My questions are:

1. Why was the community provided with so little information and a complete lack of
involvement before this decision was made to approve the application?

2. Can the minister commit to responding to the community concerns immediately,
before any disposal of xanthate occurs at Inkerman?

3. Following the commitment from this government and the EPA in 2015, after Clovelly
Park, that it would drastically improve community consultation and communication, can the minister
explain why communities are still experiencing a lack of transparency?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation,
Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change): I thank the
honourable member for her important question—somewhat delayed, but nonetheless it is good to
have one—on this very important subject. I will answer some of the latter questions now.

I believe I have responded to the member for Goyder, unlike the questioner's assertion,
although she may not be aware of that, of course. I also understand that the EPA fully briefed the
member for Goyder in relation to this matter, so it is not as if he has been kept in the dark at all, nor
has the local community, as far as I am advised. Of course, there are some members of the
community who have raised some concerns.

I am advised that, in July 2017, the EPA received a proposal from the Metropolitan Fire
Service, Redox and Cleanaway seeking to complete combustion of the chemical sodium ethyl
xanthate and then dispose of the ash at the Inkerman landfill facility. I am informed that xanthate is
a chemical distributed by Redox Pty Ltd, located at Dry Creek, and is used as a flotation agent for
the separation of ores in the mining industry.

I am also advised by the EPA that approximately 850 kilograms of material was partially
burnt as result of a small incident at the Dry Creek facility. Redox and the MFS subsequently
undertook a controlled combustion at the Redox facility in July 2017, and the partial combustion
resulted in residual material being left, which required disposal. That brings us to the point of that
disposal at a suitable landfill site.

Subsequent to the combustion event, I understand the EPA received a proposal. I am
advised that the proposal seeks to amend the EPA licence conditions at the landfill in order to
combust up to 850 kilograms of xanthate at the Inkerman facility in a controlled manner. The proposal
includes that this will occur in the presence of CFS officers and the MFS. I am further advised that
this occurring on site means that the residual ash from the combustion can then be directly disposed
into the engineered low-level contaminated waste cell at the Inkerman landfill site. This is to occur
after it has cooled, of course, from its combustion event and has then been fixed in concrete as an
additional precautionary measure.

In considering the proposal, the EPA sought community feedback as part of the notifications
process. Cleanaway also engaged with the local council and the landfill community consultative
committee members. That is my advice. I have been further advised that the EPA's community
consultation period closed on 25 September 2017. I am told that Cleanaway held a further meeting
on Thursday 28 September for the members of the landfill community consultative committee to
provide additional information about the Inkerman site's proposed activities. The EPA, MFS, CFS
and Redox were also in attendance, I am advised.

It is important that members of the council understand that in these matters the EPA is
independent. It is an independent regulator, and the decision on the proposal is for them alone, as
is appropriate, given the legislation that we in this place have supported. I am advised that after
careful consideration the EPA approved the proposal to dispose of the combusted and then fixed
product into the low-level contaminated waste cell at Inkerman. I am also informed that a date for the
burn has not yet been set by the MFS, but that it will be planned for a day when suitable weather
conditions are forecast.

The EPA has advised that the community and council will be informed prior to the burn date.
If weather conditions on the day are not as forecast, the burn will be rescheduled—as you would
think would be an appropriate decision to be made by officers on the ground—taking into
consideration local conditions at that time. It is important to understand that the community has been
taken into a consultation process, not just by the EPA but also by the proponents, which is, of course,
what the legislation provides for. I recall signing correspondence to the local member, and I am
advised that the EPA has fully briefed him, so I reject any assertion that anyone is being kept in the
dark whatsoever.

As in relation to all of these things, the EPA is performing its duties as outlined in its
legislation. It is their responsibility to do so, and they are not at my direction in these matters, as you
would expect from an independent organisation such as the EPA.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Supplementary question: assuming that local residents
are still aggrieved, what is the course of advice the minister has for them to feel that they can make
representations?

The Hon. I.K. HUNTER (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation,
Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change): As I said, I am
advised that the EPA's community consultation period closed on 25 September. That doesn't mean
that any members of the community who are still aggrieved can't take up further communication with
the EPA. The period that they set for the community consultation has closed, but I would be very
surprised if the EPA turned away any community member or any further correspondence on that
matter. As I have said, the EPA has determined, in accordance with the licensing conditions, the
approval for the combustion event in the presence of the CFS and the MFS, but a date has not yet
been set for that. Of course, that date would then need to be approved as being appropriate for the
weather conditions at the time.

 

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