EPA approval is still not final step

Michelle Slater

The EPA has granted an approval for EngergyBrix to store asbestos from the old Morwell Power Station in a shared cell at Hazelwood, but a final solution may still not be known for another month.

The process moved one step closer on Friday after the project to begin demolition has been delayed more than 18-months due to uncertainty about where EBAC would store its asbestos.

EPA acting Executive Director Tim Faragher said Hazelwood owner ENGIE submitted a licence amendment application to accept asbestos from the neighbouring briquette factory.

This came after Latrobe City Council refused planning permission for a proposed asbestos landfill at the EBAC site.

EnergyBrix remediation general manager Barry Dungey that although the EPA had given the green light for the shared cell at Hazelwood, a final agreement may not be settled until the end of January.

As an interim measure, Mr Dungey did not rule out trucking asbestos to an approved site west of Melbourne if things were not settled by the time asbestos removals begin in February.

“We don’t want to have to do that as we think sending it down the road is a high risk option but we are not in control of this decision,” Mr Dungey said.

“The only reason I can’t rule it out is if, for whatever reason, the EPA won’t give approval to store it onsite, so two months’ worth of asbestos removal would have to be sent down the road.”

Demolition at the old Morwell Power Station is scheduled to start on January 9 but the Hazelwood cell may not be ready until April.

Mr Dungey said EBAC may have to apply for a separate EPA licence to store asbestos in 44 gallon drums on site in an old briquette storage shed, pending approvals.

“It holds 6000 square metres, and it’s safe and secure and we need to store asbestos there while we wait. There will be small amount in the first month and the main program will begin in April,” he said.

He said the 44 gallon drums would be fully sealed would thoroughly washed before leaving the premises.

“Experienced in the industry is that this is the safest method, and will pose no risk to anybody in that format,” Mr Dungey said.

Once the shared cell is finalised, EBAC asbestos would be taken through a relocated security gate at Hazelwood via about 400 metres of public road on Hazelwood Drive.