THE Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council has announced a consortium led by Hitachi Zosen Inova as its preferred tenderer for a resource recovery facility in east Rockingham this month.
The facility will divert from landfill 96 per cent of the EMRC’s residential household waste.
It will convert about 300,000 tonnes of waste per year into baseload renewable energy, producing 28MW of electricity at full capacity – enough to power 36,000 homes.
The project represents a $400 million investment. It will create 300 jobs during construction and 50 new full-time jobs over more than 30 years.
National Toxics Network secretary Jane Bremmer raised concerns about the facility and another waste-to-energy plant by Phoenix Energy planned for Kwinana.
Ms Bremmer claims the facilities will set the region up as a “waste-burning pollution hotspot”.
“Both of these incinerators represent a major environmental health threat to the citizens of Rockingham, Kwinana and the whole south metro region,” she said.
“It really is a gross injustice for LGAs all over Perth to decide to send their waste to Rockingham and Kwinana.”
Ms Bremmer said more effective and sustainable zero-waste models should be pursued.
However, an Environmental Protection Authority spokesman said early waste to energy facilities in the 1970s were not fitted with pollution control equipment and this resulted in toxic emissions.
“In response, regulators developed stringent international standards, which have been imposed on waste to energy plants,” he said.
“This has resulted in low emissions.
“Some activist groups continue to raise concerns based on historical performance of these facilities.”
New Energy Corporation chief executive Jason Pugh said the Rockingham plant would use the best available technology in the world.
“The waste going to this facility will only ever end up as landfill,” he said.
“Waste-to-energy is recognised worldwide as much better sustainably and environmentally than landfill.
“Any impacts from the plant will be assessed in a scientific and systematic way by independent professionals at the EPA.”
Phoenix Energy managing director Peter Dyson said the plant, in the heart of the Kwinana Industrial Area, would be operational in the first quarter of 2021.
“Our plant has received all environmental and planning approvals required to commence construction,” he said.
“These approvals were subject to rigorous assessment by the relevant authorities and detailed public consultation.
“The approvals do not permit imported wastes to be treated and have strict criteria on what are acceptable wastes.
“Globally, there are over 2000 such plants operating well within the strict European Waste to Energy Emission Limits,” Mr Dyson said.
“Any plant built in Perth will be a ‘best in class’ design and therefore technologies that can’t demonstrate a track record of compliance would be rejected early in the approval process.”
A City of Kwinana spokesman said the Phoenix facility was appropriately located within the heavy industrial area.
“Once the facility begins operating… the environmental emissions from the plant will continue to be strictly monitored to ensure public and environmental health and safety requirements are being fully complied with,” he said.