Plant debate heats up

Lee Bell, Pat Irwin and Jane Bremmer are protesting the EMRC’s plan to develop a wood waste-to-|energy plant in Hazelmere. Picture: Bruce Hunt www.communitypix.com.au d415236
Lee Bell, Pat Irwin and Jane Bremmer are protesting the EMRC’s plan to develop a wood waste-to-|energy plant in Hazelmere. Picture: Bruce Hunt www.communitypix.com.au d415236

The East Metropolitan Regional Council has applied to install a three-megawatt waste wood-to-energy plant at the Hazelmere Recycling Centre on Lakes Road.

The plant would convert wood from pallets, crates, cable reels and particle board using extreme temperatures to produce electricity for the Western Power grid that would power up to 10,000 homes.

The proposed pyrolysis plant has been advertised on the Environmental Protection Authority website for a seven-day public comment period, which closed on February 13.

However, the Works Approval Application that the EMRC applied for from Department of Environmental Regulation cannot be approved until the EPA has completed its assessment. Locals are riled at the EMRC’s lack of public consultation over a project they believe will worsen already poor air quality in the area.

Alliance for a Clean Environment chairwoman Jane Bremmer said she opposed the project and called for a full Environmental Impact Assessment with public input.

‘The EMRC are trying to get away with no public scrutiny because they know their own community has rejected this technology consistently,’ she said.

‘The Environmental Protection Authority have finally done the right thing and called for submissions on the level of assessment.

‘We’re opposed to it because it’s a polluting industry and it releases very dangerous toxins ” such as dioxin and nano-particles ” that are a health threat for everyone living within 20km of the site.’

EMRC chief executive Peter Schneider said his organisation used existing consultation methods available through the DER and EPA to ensure all feedback was directly received by the regulatory bodies.

He said the EMRC had held several briefing sessions on the pyrolysis plant with the Hazelmere Progress Association, the Community Action Network and the Waste Management Community Reference Group since July last year.

‘Representatives from each of the EMRC’s member councils are present on EMRC’s council and committees and have received periodic updates about the progression of the project,’ Mr Schneider said.

Hazelmere business owner David Jones said he was worried the potential emissions would pollute his property and was disappointed there was no letter from EMRC or City of Swan informing him of the development.

‘I am one of the closest businesses to the proposed incinerator and already these people are grinding up arsenic based pallets,’ he said.

‘I think in the very least we should have been informed about it earlier.’