Chunxing’s Latrobe Valley battery recycling plant plan prompts concerns about lead emissions

NOW if there was ever something we should worry about it’s this …


-is one of the heavy metals that has known bad effects on human health

from Roman times to recent examples, Mt Isa in Qld, at the top end of Lake Macquarie NSW and elsewhere the effects of lead have been investigated and found to be long term

-concerns about lead have meant it is no longer added to fuels and paints

SO now we are asked to accept a lead recycling facility be established in Australia despite the risks

AND permit it to be run by a CHINESE company that is likely to be beyond our jurisdiction should it fail and cause environmental harm!


Chunxing’s Latrobe Valley battery recycling plant plan prompts concerns about lead emissions

ABC Gippsland By Jarrod Whittaker

17 OCTOBER 2019

A group of community members stand outside the site of a proposed battery recycling centre with two signs

PHOTO: Members of the Hazelwood North Community Action Group outside the site of a proposed battery recycling plant. (ABC Gippsland: Jarrod Whittaker)

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A proposal from a Chinese company to build Victoria’s first lead battery recycling plant in the Latrobe Valley, east of Melbourne, has locals concerned about the risk of lead exposure.

Key points:

  • A Chinese company says emissions from a lead recycling operation in the Latrobe Valley would fall 300 times below EPA limits
  • Residents of Hazelwood North say emissions have a cumulative effect, and that the site proposed is near homes and a school
  • The general manager of the firm behind Chunxing’s modelling says the projected emissions are “as close to zero” as possible

Chunxing wants to build a smelter in the community of Hazelwood North which, if approved, will receive 50,000 tonnes a year worth of spent batteries and recycle them into 28,000 tonnes of refined lead.

Concerned about long-term health risks, the Hazelwood North Community Action Group has been formed in opposition to the project, with members knocking on doors and collecting signatures for a petition.

“Lead is a cumulative heavy metal — it’s a neurotoxin,” spokesman Peter Ingwersen said.

It has severe effects on young children and women of childbearing age.

It accumulates in the body displaces calcium in bones and teeth.

We don’t think that any level of lead should be emitted from a plant of this nature.

There are other options available.”

Homes and school close to site

The company has released a draft works approval application which it will submit to the Environment Protection Authority for assessment.

The proposed plant will recycle lead acid batteries, which are commonly used vehicle engines and in appliances such as air conditioners and headlights.

Chunxing said Australia produces 150,000 tonnes of used lead batteries each year, most of which are recycled at three existing battery recycling centres located in New South Wales and Queensland.

According to its draft works approval application, 16 per cent of the used batteries are “exported, illegally landfilled or stockpiled.”

But with the nearest house located little more than a kilometre from the proposed site and the local primary school 1.7km south of the site, the issue of lead emissions has prompted local opposition to the project.

A map showing the site of a proposed battery recycling plant

PHOTO: A map showing the site of Chunxing’s proposed battery recycling plant in Hazelwood North. (Supplied: Chunxing)

‘300 times below EPA limit’

Chunxing said its modelling shows lead emissions from the project would be well below EPA standards.

Chunxing’s draft works approval application was put together by Ascend Waste and Environment, which created modelling for the plant based on a similar facility in China as well as weather data from Hazelwood North.

Ascend’s general manager Geoff Latimer said lead emissions from the battery recycling plant will be 300 times below EPA limits.

“If we extrapolate that to the nearest house, which is about 1.2 kilometres away, that level falls again to about 1,500 or 1,600 times below EPA standards,” Mr Latimer said.

“So science never tells you something is zero — it’s the nature of numbers, but it’s as close to zero as you can get.”

According to the draft works approval application, the amount of lead emitted by the plant will be much lower than the lead emissions from the nearby Latrobe Valley coal-fired power stations.

The company plans to conduct further community consultation before submitting its application to the EPA.

CAAN: BE alert to the form of ‘community consultation’ that takes place … will it mean a ‘select community group’ sworn to secrecy?

A group of community members stand outside the site of a proposed battery recycling centre with two signs