DADI: EfW report rejection "hardly surprising", but vows to fight on

Date: 5 Apr 2018

Dial-a-Dump Industries (DADI) managing director Ian Malouf will continue the battle for an energy from waste (EfW) plant despite a recent setback.

Drawing: Krikis Taylor Architects Pty Ltd

The NSW parliamentary inquiry report into EfW technology recommended that his proposed Eastern Creek project, The Next Generation [TNG], not be approved. It also recommended updated assessment of EfW proposals, based on EU guidelines.

However, Malouf told Inside Waste that "we were pleased to see that the Inquiry seems to have accepted all of the recommendations we made about the planning process... [and] the availability of waste data", as well as "the interstate disposal of waste".

Premier Gladys Berejiklian told Channel 9 that "I'm pleased to hear [the inquiry's report] because I have met with the community, I know how much they are worried about that. I feel strongly about it too."

Malouf noted: "It will be interesting to see the speed and the extent to which the NSW government acts upon those issues."

While Malouf acknowledged that all aspects of the TNG's EIS must be scrutinised to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all involved and is supportive of the planning process that he said was conducted impartially based on objective scientific and technical evidence, he questioned the inquiry's motives, saying: "The recent Parliamentary Inquiry, though chaired well, was initiated by politicians already known to have displayed prejudiced and ignorant opinions to a small gallery of fearful electors who are easily influenced. We expressed our concern about the impartiality of a number of committee members in our submission. 

"We exposed to the Inquiry how Blacktown Council led by Mayor Stephen Bali misrepresented the technical advice and opinions of the Council's own consultants. We know that Mr Buckingham's contribution involved posting online a video showing him setting fire to a bucket of waste and [Shadow Environment Minister] Ms [Penny] Sharpe trying (unsuccessfully) to verbal executives of TNG." 

In addition to being the Labor Mayor of Blacktown, Bali also became its representative in the Lower House in October 2017. Greens' MLC Buckingham initially sat on the Inquiry, but stepped down in August that year. Both have bills regulating EfW underway in the NSW Parliament.

Sharpe welcomed the Inquiry's report, saying in a statement: "Labor shares the concerns of people in Western Sydney who will be directly affected by this dangerous incinerator, and now a cross-party committee has validated them".

But despite coming under fire from all sides of politics, Malouf is firing back.

"It is hardly surprising... that although the Parliamentary Committee adopted all of our other recommendations, they still opposed EfW."

"We have all seen that it is difficult for politicians to backflip when their political skins are at stake. When will Blacktown Council do something of real benefit to the community by matching our offer to provide 1000 households with roof top solar power free of charge?"

Assessments to be tightened

The report's recommendations included updated and more stringent assessment procedures around EfW, which are currently under the aegis of the Planning and Assessment Commission.

Prior to the release of the report, Bali told Inside Waste that "Labor believes that the Parliament should set the standard and not a commission".

Although still being drafted, and likely to be revised in light of the recommendations, Bali had said that his bill would likely include:

• mandated recycling targets;

• emission standards to be set at current world's best practice;

• ongoing review periods to be set and applied to all proven EfW plants;

• fit and proper person test for the proprietors as well as the management of EfW plants;

• setting up standing expert panel on EfW;

• ongoing public monitoring of emissions; and

• planned obsolescence of the plant.

He also indicated that Labour would be supporting the Greens' bill.

TNG not finished, Malouf still confident

Malouf maintains that rigourous assessments of EfW proposals will work in the technology's favour, and welcomes further scrutiny of TNG and the technology generally, under the NSW government's current policy.

"Undertaking such an innovative project as TNG means that all aspects of the EIS must be scrutinised to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all involved. To this extent we are very supportive of the Planning process conducted impartially based on objective scientific and technical evidence."

"Everyone knows that we have a power generating crisis, we are experiencing the effects of climate change and that China has stopped receiving residue waste. If we are serious about doing something about these problems then the NSW government's EfW policy goes a long way. They just need the courage to follow it through despite the election cycle."

A broader perspective, he insists, has already comprehensively validated EfW.

"2200 facilities are operating safely and successfully around the world with a capacity to thermally treat 300 Million tonnes of waste per year. No two of them are exactly alike in every single minute respect. Waste is described by different names in different jurisdictions but chemically if they are comparable then they meet the required test as to quality of emissions," Malouf said.

"Over 400 operating plants in the world which have been built by our nominated technology supplier HZI, each relying on various waste types and volumes and the last two decades, none of these have ever had a forced shut down by the authorities due to an emissions breach.

"The very fact that these facilities operate safely and within different regulatory environments, often more stringent that [of] Australia and NSW should provide certainty and comfort of not only the outcome but that capacity and capability of the technology."

And, although he asserts confidence in the proposal as it stands, Malouf says he won't let a rejection deter him. The waste warlord is known for civil litigation suits defending DADI's interests against the government and others.

"We continue to have confidence in the planning processes, the scientific data, and the overseas experience to see this project through," he said.

"Unless the state government reverses its EfW Policy or otherwise legislates to prevent the approval of any EfW facilities we will keep on keeping on in the best Australian tradition. We will never give in and we will use every legislative and legal/litigation step available to us to persist until we are successful."

A spokeswoman for NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton told Inside Waste: "The NSW government will consider all the recommendations from the Parliamentary inquiry."

"The Department of Planning and Environment is the determining authority for the Energy from Waste Facility at Eastern Creek and is currently assessing the application."