The company proposing to build a $600 million waste to energy facility at Bungonia is sending mixed messages, an action group says.
Jerrara Action group member Leisha Cox-Barlow has questioned why Jerrrara Power has urged the state government to reduce its processing requirements for municipal solid waste it would receive at the facility.
It comes despite company managing director Chris Berkefeld's statements at several community meetings that "the uglies" will be taken out of up to 330,000 tonnes of residual material annually at the Jerrrara Road plant. It says the red-bin waste, industrial and commercial material will be pre-sorted and not suitable for recycling.
Jerrara Power is in the early stages of planning for the facility and is yet to lodge an application and EIS to the state government. However Bungonia and district residents have already made their opposition clear at well-attended and vocal community meetings.
Mrs Cox-Barlow has highlighted the company's submission on the state government's NSW Energy from Waste draft policy statement.
"...Where a council has a separate collection system for dry recyclables and food and garden waste, mixed municipal solid waste (MSW) should not need to go through a processing facility before going to an energy to recovery facility," the submission states.
"Removal of hazardous (material) from the mixed waste stream is an objective of Jerrara Power, however it can be difficult to guarantee absolute removal of every battery, light bulb and the like. Efforts should and will be made to remove such items in the upstream supply chain....However the energy from the waste process is robust enough to deal with small amounts of this material."
The company also argued that while 100 per cent compliance with emissions standards was desirable, allowance should be made for minor exceedances where "normal operating conditions" didn't apply.
The action group argues such concessions would "guarantee" toxic fumes in the environment, jeopardising public health through air and water impacts.
"So they will burn what they want," Mrs Cox-Barlow said.
"They're saying to us that that they will sort the waste to achieve 100pc compliance but this submission is about taking out the sorting process."
But Jerrara Power managing director Chris Berkefeld said while 100pc compliance was ideal, it was not practical.
"This is about searching for an answer that works," he said.
"This plant will burn an amount of waste that creates 11,000 tonnes of (toxic) flue ash that you don't want in there. It stops the toxins getting out and it's a discussion about how good you can get the process.
"...We may get to 98 or 99pc but we will have to assess any health impacts with the EPA."
Mr Berkefeld's comments followed his presentation about the proposal to a closed councillor briefing session on Tuesday. The briefing repeated material already disseminated at community meetings.
Outside, Mrs Cox-Barlow, Goulburn Shooters, Fishers and Farmers president Andy Wood and secretary Darren Plumb held up placards of protest against the plan.
Mrs Cox-Barlow said the briefing session should have been open.
"We are the people most affected and we feel silenced. There is no transparency," she said.
However she conceded that most councillors had supported the community, with most replying to correspondence listing their concerns. The action group is seeking direction from the council, particularly on the plant's permissability in the rural zone.
In the meantime, Mrs Cox-Barlow said the two action groups were rapidly building membership and linking with similar organisations in Eastern Creek and elsewhere.
Political party gets involved
Mr Wood told The Post his party became involved after the Jerrara Action Group's approach.
"From the outset the party has been against this," he said.
"It concerns us that the State thinks it can approve projects in rural areas that wouldn't get off the ground in other places...I don't think farmers should be surrounded by this and (environment minister) Matt Kean should respond to it. Adam Marshall (agriculture minister) also has a responsibility to ensure projects like this don't impact on rural areas."
Mr Wood said the party believed that Sydney shouldn't export its waste. If it was "non-toxic," as the company maintained, there was "no reason it shouldn't be in Sydney."
But Mr Berkefeld said the company was unable to find a suitably zoned city site with ready transport links.
"Locating these plants close to large population centres doesn't make sense today," he said.
"There were a range of reasons we chose the Bungonia site. I think others will look to the regions at some stage. We may never prevail but we'll go through the process and see where it leads."
After Tuesday's briefing, Cr Andrew Banfield said he was "underwhelmed" by the presentation, which didn't supply any additional information. Nor did it answer his questions about the water source, emissions, why Bungonia and more.
"It has all been back to front and they should have done their studies first because they can't answer anyone's questions," he said.
While the council would not form a position until after it received formal documentation, Cr Banfield was forthright in his view.
"We don't want it. We have one at Woodlawn and we don't want any more city rubbish," he said.
"People moved here to get away from that sort of thing so don't bring it here."
The council will also invite residents to brief them on their position.
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