Environmental concerns over waste to energy project

As the new Avertas Energy project was unveiled, Kwinana was announced as the site for Australia’s first thermal to waste energy facility.

During the announcement, protesters gathered outside the gate chanting for Premier Mark McGowan to “avert a disaster”.

Mr McGowan explained this is an innovative process used all around the world, and allows waste that is not recyclable to be used to generate electricity and therefore reduce our emissions.

“The state is working on a climate policy currently, as to what suits WA. My view is a renewable energy target and overarching climate policy is something the commonwealth government quickly,” Mr McGowan said.

“Everyone knows climate change is real problem facing earth, and WA needs to do its bit, but we need a national approach to this so each state doesn’t inflict with what other states are doing.”

In light of the Environmental Protection Agency’s recommendations to not go through with this project, Mr McGowan said he is concerned if the policy is only applied to new projects, that it disadvantages new projects over existing ones.

Will the State Government get into a situation then where the EPA might not recommend a project because the emission set offs aren’t good enough, and then be going against their advice?

The Premier said it’s happened before.

“We’re not bound by it, we don’t support it in it’s current form,” he said.

“Climate change is important and I think West Australians want action on climate change, but you can’t do it peacefully where one project is penalised, yet other projects particularly in other states don’t do their fair share.”

“I just can’t see how a policy that only applies to certain projects to certain states, when there’s these huge other projects in other states that don’t have any emission reduction applied to them.”

He said thats why you need an overarching national policy on this issue.

“If there’s a change of government which is likely, there will be a national climate change policy, and i think that will be good for every state so there’s consistency across the nation.”

Protestors outside said they’ve been fighting this project off for years.

“We’re here to tell the McGowan government that waste to energy incineration has no future in WA – it’s the most polluting and expensive way to make energy,” Ms Bremmer said.

Jane Bremmer said waste to energy is more polluting in terms of green house gases, and has more toxic air pollutants per unit of energy than coal, oil and gas.

“It makes no sense to burn our waste for energy when we’re facing catastrophic climate change… We’re asking the McGowan Government to put a break on this industry,”

Ms Bremmer explained what makes up most of our residual waste stream are non recyclable single use plastics. She said you have to burn a lot of plastic to create the same amount of energy that you can get from coal.

“All incinerators pollute… the most expensive aspects of waste incineration industries are the air pollution control units,”

“They’re expensive because waste incinerators create some of the most deadly pollutants on the planet, like dioxins, furanes, and bromines. What isn’t captured in the air pollution control units is captured in the toxic ash, but then you’ve got a hazardous toxic ash pile to deal with,”

Ms Bremmer argued that it doesn’t actually divert waste from landfill; we’re just transforming it into highly toxic ash that will impose an environmental health risk for the next 30 years.

 

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