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:

Early works

This is the low impact clean-up work that can be done without any approvals. This is prior to demolition works and is well underway.

Stage 1: Demolition

This includes demoliton of the majority of site buildings and structures, excluding structures such as stacks, buildings with a potential for reuse, buildings storing waste materials, and below-ground infrastructure.

Stage 2: Demolition & remediation

This includes the demolition of the tall stacks, removal of below-ground infrastructure, excavation of contaminated soils and the on-site containment of these, along with non-recyclable waste material.

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.

Our Community Reference Group, which was established with the purpose of bringing community input to the project, was involved in the development of criteria to be used in shortlisting potential recyclers of the spent pot lining. Discussions about this are recorded in meeting minutes which are available to view on our Community Reference Group page. While this recycling process is separate to the remediation of the site, Hydro wished to involve the community in the selection of the spent pot lining recycling process. Hydro is currently undertaking a series of investigations with potential recyclers.

The early and straightforward remediation work has begun and in some areas it is complete. 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. In addition, some decommissioning and preparation for demolition has commenced, such as the removal of asbestos and recovery of aluminium busbars and pot doors.

Preparation for the Stage 1 demolition is also under way, with development consent granted by CCC in March 2016 for the demolition of the majority of the smelter buildings. This includes the preparation of a demolition environmental management plan by the demolition company for council approval.

To complete the Stage 2 demolition and remediation, Hydro needs to comply with the NSW Government approvals process. To achieve this, Hydro has developed a proposal and environmental impact statement, which is currently on exhibition until 12 September 2016 for public feedback. This demolition, including tall stacks and below-ground infrastructure, and the subsequent on-site containment of non-recyclable wastes and contaminated soils and the treatment of impacted water, will be assessed as a state significant development and will be subject to a determination by the DP&E.

The proposal for the major demolition and 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 two years, providing details on the waste types on the site and on how Hydro proposes to manage them.

Updated: November 26, 2016