Demolition and remediation

Though the major proportion of Hydro land is in great shape environmentally, there are small pockets in the buffer zone and material around the smelter site that will need to be remediated.

Demolition of the plant

Hydro completed an initial assessment of the buildings within the site, remediation requirements, and long-term opportunities for adaptive re-use of buildings. Detailed investigations, planning, and consultation with Cessnock City Council (CCC) and the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DP&E) has occurred.

The demolition and remediation process is a key component of Hydro’s strategic vision to increase economic activity and employment in the local area by allowing for a new generation of business and industrial development at the Kurri Kurri site.

There are three parts to the demolition and remediation process:

Clean up and decommissioning

This was low impact work that could be undertaken without any approvals. This was prior to Stage 1 demolition works and is complete.

Stage 1: Demolition

This includes demolition of the majority of site buildings and structures, excluding structures such as concrete stacks, buildings with a potential for reuse, buildings storing waste materials, and below-ground infrastructure. This work was approved in 2016 and work began in May 2017.

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  • Demolition Progress of Lines 2 and 3 in May 2018

  • Removal of contaminated/oil stained soils from 3BS substation. Anything with oil staining is checked for PCBs.

  • Removal of steel reinforcing from crushed concrete by electromagnet. The concrete will be used for backfill material.
  • Asbestos conduit is being dug out with machines and by hand so it’s not damaged. The conduit is then removed, wrapped in black plastic, ready for later on-site disposal.
  • Line 2 and 3 aluminium busbar ready to be cut to length and straightened. The busbar is then stacked ready for recycling.

Stage 2: Demolition

This stage was approved by Cessnock City Council in May 2018. It includes the demolition of the tall stacks, removal of below-ground infrastructure, along with non-recyclable waste material. It’s anticipated this work will begin in Quarter 3 of 2018.

In each case, reuse or recycling of materials is the preferred option. This covers everything from the basic reuse of computers and furniture by donating them to others, through to finding a recycling option/s for the spent pot lining material currently stored in sheds on site. Site materials including concrete, metal and smelter wastes (such as separated spent pot lining) that can be recycled, will be, where it is a reasonable and feasible option.

Stage 3 - Remediation

Some early remediation work has already been undertaken. This includes the removal of bricks and concrete from areas in the buffer zone and the repair of landforms. Some areas had a variety of domestic and commercial waste on them (illegally dumped by others), while other areas had large concrete blocks, and other non- hazardous waste materials from the smelter. These areas have now been cleaned-up and the land regraded, and it is now ready for future use.

Additional remediation packages outside the smelter footprint are being procured with work to commence in late 2018. Remediation will make the land suitable for its use under the proposed rezoning. Contamination in these areas is not related to the smelter activities. Most of the contamination is because of other uses in the buffer zone, including farming use, the demolition of sheds or houses with asbestos and the former landfill site on Hart Road.

The remediation process will include stockpiling contaminated materials in a location adjacent to the smelter site, backfilling any excavations with natural material, sampling and validating the soil that remains and achieving sign off from an independent accredited Auditor, that the land is suitable for its intended use under the proposed rezoning. The temporarily stockpiled contaminated material will be placed in the containment cell once available.

The Smelter Site Remediation needs to comply with the NSW Government approvals process. To achieve this, Hydro developed a proposal and environmental impact statement, which was on exhibition in 2016 for public feedback. It included the on-site containment of non-recyclable wastes and contaminated soils and the treatment of impacted water and will be assessed as a state significant development.

The proposal for remediation of the site has been developed in consultation with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), the DP&E, several other agencies, and the wider community, and using the skills of a range of specialist consultants. Hydro has been working closely with the EPA for more than three years, providing details on the waste types on the site and on how Hydro proposes to manage them.

Hydro has finalised and submitted its Response to Submissions Report for review by the Department of Planning and Environment. The department will then make its recommendation and a formal determination process will follow. It’s anticipated Hydro will be in a position to award the main remediation contract in Quarter 1 2019.


Updated: August 21, 2018