Heavy metal removal plants in Queensland and NSW are being decommissioned as part of the government’s efforts to reduce pollution from heavy metal extraction and refining operations.
Key points:The decommissioning of the Dunham Metal Processing Plant is expected to take four years to completeThe plant is being decommitted to make way for a new industrial parkThe state government says the plant will be open to the general public, with no impact to public health or the environmentThe state’s environmental department is investigating the decommissionation process and is looking at the impacts to local wildlife and the environment, including whether the plant is currently a danger to nearby waterways and whether the environment has been affected by heavy metal processing.
The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP) has confirmed it will be decommission, or at least partial decommission in accordance with state and federal law, of the DPP, which is the primary contractor for the operation.
The DEHP has issued a Notice of Proposed Establishment and Construction (NOPC) for the site, with a decision due within the next two weeks.
It is understood the NOPC will be the first stage of a long-term environmental assessment.
“The DEP is assessing whether the Dpp will remain a significant source of pollution to local waterways and the surrounding environment, and if so, how it might be affected by the decommissions of the sites,” DEHP environment spokeswoman Rachel McKeague said.
“In the meantime, there will be a public consultation, with opportunities for comment on the proposed design of the site and any proposed changes to the site’s land use.”
She said the decomposition process would take four to five years to commence.
“This process will not affect the health or environmental protection of the local community,” she said.’
This process is not an immediate threat’The state Department of Water, Wastewater and Environment has confirmed there will not be any immediate impact to local communities, including the nearby towns of St Albans and Cessnock, which are just metres from the site.
The DECE has previously said the removal process would not affect local water quality, and that water from the facility would continue to be used for water treatment and waste treatment.
Ms McKeefe said DEHP had not been informed of any plans to remove the facility’s water, but it would consider any proposal to do so.
“We do not intend to change the current water management scheme,” she wrote.
“If the DEP determines that the site will no longer be a significant environmental risk to the local environment or the community, the DEHP will consider the possibility of a new water management approach that would take account of local water and its use, including any mitigation measures that could be considered.”
Ms McLean said the process would be managed in a “proactive and non-discriminatory” way to avoid any adverse impacts.
“There are no restrictions on the types of water management plans that may be put in place by the DEPP,” she explained.
“Any plans to make changes to water management arrangements that would impact on water quality and environmental health are subject to a consultation with the community.”
The Department said it was also undertaking a full environmental assessment of the decommitment of the existing DPP.
“To date, no environmental impact assessment has been undertaken on the site,” Ms McKeede said.