Improving Immobilisation of High-Risk Contaminants: Waste Certificates Increase User Confidence


Improving Immobilisation of High-Risk Contaminants: Waste Certificates Increase User Confidence

New South Wales has 12 new Protection of the Environment Operations Waste Regulations.

From 1 November 2014, the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2014 (2014 Regulations) will clarify the responsibility of generators and processors of immobilised waste, including recipient landfills.

Immobilisation contaminant approvals

The 2014 Regulations remove general and specific approvals and introduce an immobilised contaminants approval that helps to clarify and strengthen the immobilisation approval framework. Similar to the 2005 Regulations, the EPA may grant an approval, an immobilised contaminants approval, which allows the person granted the approval to classify waste after the waste has been treated and tested.

An immobilised contaminants approval is an authorisation from the EPA for waste to be classified as designated waste after it has been treated with specific techniques. The techniques immobilise contaminants in the waste and specified tests are carried out to determine the extent to which this has occurred. The immobilisation allows for the waste to be used or disposed of in a manner that it could not have been prior to that process. This process is governed by the immobilisation contaminant approval.

If an approval is granted to a specific person that authorises the waste to be taken for disposal, storage or use to a specified waste facility only, that person will be given written notice. All other approvals will be published in the Gazette.

Non-compliance, including record keeping, with an approval is subject to maximum penalties of $22,000 for a corporation and up to $11,000 for an individual.

Designated waste certificates

The major change to this framework is the issuing of designated waste certificates to confirm the waste has been correctly treated for re-use or disposal. Under the 2014 Regulations, people who deal with waste that is subject to an immobilised contaminants approval are required to issue a certificate confirming the waste has been treated in accordance with EPA requirements, before being re-used or disposed.

The penalty for not providing adequate certificates is up to $22,000 for a corporation and $11,000 for an individual.

This amendment requires parties that have an immobilised contaminants approval to provide certificates. Wording of the certificates must take into account the requirements of the 2014 Regulations to ensure compliance.

There is also a requirement for occupiers of waste facilities not to receive any unauthorised designated waste. This also carries a heavy penalty.

Immobilisation orders

The 2014 Regulations grant the EPA power to impose requirements on occupiers of waste facilities through the creation of an immobilisation order, a separate document to the above certificate. The orders apply to the operators who store, dispose or otherwise use waste subject to an immobilised contaminants approval. Waste facilities that do not comply with an immobilisation order are liable to penalties up to $22,000 for a corporation and $11,000 for an individual.

Simplified immobilisation of contaminants for all involved

The 2014 Regulations aim to more clearly identify the waste classification and regulatory requirements which apply to each person involved in any stage of the processing of waste subject to an immobilisation approval. In order for someone to dispose or re-use that waste, the new regulations specify the action and treatment to be undertaken.

The introduction of the designated waste certificates will promote confidence for facilities receiving waste and the community at large, that waste subject of an immobilised contaminants approval has been treated appropriately. Immobilisation orders clarify the separate obligations or operational requirements for waste facilities using that waste.

Read more about the 12 areas of staged change to the NSW Protection of the Environment Operations Waste Regulations.