Overview

On 15 November 2019, EPA received a works approval application from Chunxing Corporation Pty Ltd.

The application proposes development of a used lead acid battery (ULAB) recycling plant. The facility would process 50,000 tonnes per year of used lead acid batteries to be recycled into 28,000 tonnes of refined lead per year.

The proposed facility would be located at Crown Allotment 2047, Fourth Road, Hazelwood North VIC 3840.

A copy of the works approval application (number 1003702) can be viewed in the ‘Supporting documents’ section of this page.

For more information on the works approval process see EPA works approvals (publication 1523.2).

Latest updates

VCAT review

Following Latrobe City Council's refusal to grant planning permission to Chunxing Pty Ltd. an application for review of the decision was lodged with the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT). VCAT has set a five-day major hearing, starting on 12 April 2020, after a compulsory conference will be held between parties on December 16. The works approval will not be in effect until the planning permit matter has been resolved pending VCAT review.


Works approval granted

EPA has issued a works approval with conditions for Chunxing’s ULAB recycling facility.

The works approval allows for the development of a ULAB facility with secondary lead smelter to recycle 50,000 tonnes per year of used lead acid batteries to produce 28,000 tonnes per year of refined lead.

EPA received 136 submissions during the public comment period. Another 35 submissions were received during a second comment period.

A community conference was also held to allow EPA to listen to submissions and consider options for resolution of concerns. The independent conference chair made a number of recommendations and EPA has considered each of these as part of the works approval assessment.

EPA values the many contributions from the community of Hazelwood received during our assessment process.

The works approval is available to view in the 'Supporting documents' section of this page. The technical review which EPA engaged expert metallurgist Mark Stevenson to prepare is also available in the 'Supporting documents' section.

If you object to the issuing of the works approval or its conditions, you may have the decision reviewed at VCAT by applying in writing within 21 days of the date of issue to:

Registrar, Planning and Environment Division

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)

7th Floor, 55 King Street, Melbourne

An application fee may be applicable when lodging an appeal with VCAT.

Contact VCAT on 03 9628 9777 for further details on fees associated with an appeal. A copy of the appeal should also be forwarded, within seven days of lodgement, to:

Manager, Development Assessments Unit

Environment Protection Authority Victoria

GPO Box 4395, Melbourne 3001

EPA's assessment

EPA reviewed the environmental standards for Secondary Lead Smelters applied in other jurisdictions and determined US standards to be most stringent. EPA assessed the application against the best practice standards of the United States, including:

The works approval includes conditions requiring the facility to be designed and operated in accordance with these best practice standards.

Chunxing completed an air quality impact assessment and human health risk assessment as part of their works approval application. EPA has assessed these, and the proposed air emission pollution controls proposed for the facility.

EPA has assessed the management and potential impacts of air emissions. EPA has determined that air emissions for the indicators assessed are very low and the proposed management of air emissions is in accordance with international best practice standards for ULAB recycling facilities and complies with the State Environment Protection Policy (Air Quality Management) (SEPP (AQM)).

EPA has assessed the separation distances from the facility to nearest residences, community centres, and schools. EPA has considered the air emissions and human health assessments and has determined that the proposed separation distances are adequate for the facility.

The works approval includes conditions requiring the facility to be designed to achieve strict air emission limits.

EPA has assessed the process wastewater treatment system and management. EPA has determined that the proposed treatment system and management is acceptable and complies with State Environment Protection Policy (Waters) (SEPP (Waters)).

EPA has assessed the proposed stormwater management system, which is to separately collect, store and treat rainwater from the roof areas and stormwater run-off from site pavement and road areas. Collected water would be reused for process purposes. The stormwater management system would be capable of containing a one in 100-year stormwater event. EPA has determined that the proposed stormwater management complies with SEPP (Waters).

EPA has assessed the land and groundwater impact caused by the construction and operation of the facility. It is determined that the proposed operation is unlikely to cause land contamination and management of construction impact is required.

The works approval includes conditions requiring a fit for purpose investigation to determine the baseline land and groundwater conditions, undertaken by an EPA-appointed independent environmental auditor and development of construction management accordingly.

EPA has considered environmental impacts during the construction. A works approval condition requires that a construction environmental management plan (CEMP) be developed prior to the commencement of construction. The CEMP must include the management of dust and noise emissions, contaminated soil and extracted groundwater (if any), as well as a monitoring program.

EPA has assessed potential environmental risk associated with storage of chemicals, dangerous substances and combustible materials, as well as management of fire and emergency situations. EPA has determined that the management of these risks as proposed by the concept design is acceptable but should be further developed in consultation with relevant government agencies after the completion of a comprehensive hazard and operability study (HAZOP) during the detailed design

EPA has also considered and specified the requirements for on-going monitoring for process control and pollution control system, as well as environmental monitoring, including air and groundwater.

The works approval includes conditions requiring the implementation of an on-going community engagement plan.

Previous updates

On 6 August 2020, EPA requested Chunxing Corporation Pty Ltd (ULAB) to provide a response to the further submissions received. Chunxing have provided a response to the additional public submissions and the information is now available under the ‘Supporting documents’ section of this page.

An additional submission was accepted on 30 July via EPA's call center. This has been added to the 'Submissions received via email' document and Chunxing have revised their document to include a response to this.

Chunxing agreed to an extension of the assessment period under Section 67A of the Environment Protection Act 1970. The decision date was moved to 31 August 2020. This will provide EPA with more time to assess the works approval application.

On 31 January, 19 February and 24 April 2020, EPA issued Chunxing with notices under section 22 of the Environment Protection Act 1970 to supply further technical and process information. This information includes air emission management, public health risk assessment, wastewater and stormwater management.

Chunxing has provided its response to these notices and the information is now available under the ‘Supporting documents’ section of this page.

Public submissions on this new information will be available shortly in the 'Supporting documents' section.

EPA has engaged Mark Stevenson, a metallurgist with 40 years experience in the lead industry, to assist with the technical assessment of the works approval application. Mark will undertake a detailed review of the proposal and provide his opinion based on his comprehensive knowledge of ULAB recycling world wide.

EPA invited interested parties that wished to comment on the new information to do so on this page. Submissions were open to anyone, including those who had or had not previously made a submission or been involved in the 20B community conference for this application.

Please note: submissions needed to focus on the new information. Community were advised not to re-submit information from the previous submission period.

Due to the requests from community members, EPA extended the public comment period closing date to 30 July 2020.

Submissions will be made available in the 'Supporting documents' section.

A third Section 22 notice has been issued requiring Chunxing to undertake a human health risk assessment, and to revise the air dispersion modelling. The section 22 notice can be found in the ‘Supporting documents’ section on this page.

Chunxing has provided its response to these notices and the information is now available under the ‘Supporting documents’ section of this page.

EPA hosted a community conference on 25 February to discuss public submissions about the application.

The conference was independently chaired. The chair prepared a conference report, including recommendations to EPA Victoria for consideration in its assessment of the works approval application.

The conference report is now available in the 'Supporting documents' section of this page.

A second Section 22 notice was issued to Chunxing requiring a response to the submissions received. This can be viewed in the 'Supporting documents' section of this page.

EPA hosted a community conference on 25 February at the Churchill Hotel, Churchill VIC. The presentations from the night are now available to view in the 'Supporting documents' section on this page.

The purpose of the conference was to:

  • enable the EPA to listen to, and better understand, the views and concerns of the community and stakeholders
  • help explain the works approval application, the assessment process and current status
  • discuss ideas about possible conditions if the works approval is issued.

The conference was independently chaired and the chair will prepare a conference report, including recommendations to EPA Victoria for consideration in its assessment of the works approval application.

EPA issued Chunxing Corporation Pty Ltd. with a notice under section 22 of the Environment Protection Act 1970 to supply further technical and process information by 7 February 2020. The section 22 notice can be found in the ‘Supporting documents’ section on this page.

EPA hosted two drop-in information sessions on 10 & 21 January 2020.

Both sessions were held at the Hazelwood North Community Hall.

What the application proposes

Chunxing proposes to build and operate a ULAB recycling facility using patented secondary lead smelting technology. The proposal estimates 98% of the lead, plastic and electrolyte (sulfuric acid) in ULABs will be recycled.

The proposed project will operate 24 hours, 7 days per week, with allowance for 30 - 40 days of maintenance per year.

The proposal is scheduled as A02 (Other waste treatment) and I02 (Metal melting).