Veolia waste incineration trial
February 2019 – incineration of waste containing PFAS
Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, are synthetic chemicals that have been used in a range of industrial and consumer products since the 1950s.
Following the EPA’s public advertising and adjacent landholder notification process in June 2018, Veolia’s EPA licence was amended to allow new wastes to be incinerated at its Dry Creek incinerator site under trial conditions where an approved waste incineration trial plan is in place.
These conditions cover the detail required in any plan, including the type and amount of waste to be incinerated under any trial, reporting requirements, measures to mitigate the risk of any offsite impacts and the provision of contingency plans.
Subsequent to these changes, Veolia formally submitted waste incineration trial plans for PFAS affected wastes (both solids and liquid). The EPA approved the plans and PFAS contaminated solids and liquids trials were conducted as scheduled on 26, 27 and 28 February 2019.
The EPA attended site each day during the trial period. No non-compliances were noted during the EPA’s inspections, though some administrative recommendations were made.
Post-trial reports were submitted to the EPA once the third-party test results became available. Results from Day 2 of the trials were not considered representative, due to equipment and logistical issues experienced on the day. Based on the results from Days 1 and 3, air emissions were considered compliant with EPA licence condition emission limits and the trial requirements.
Based on the waste ash and the quench water results, the trials were considered to have failed.
The quench waters from the trial have been removed to a site licensed to dispose of this waste. In line with the Approved Trial Plans, the waste ash will also be removed to a site licensed to dispose of this waste.
Veolia has indicated that it will be requesting approval to undertake further trials to incinerate these types of low-level PFAS contaminated wastes. The company has proposed to engage a combustion specialist to assess and recommend incinerator settings to ensure complete combustion of waste, and to improve the destruction levels of the PFAS compounds.
For further information, please see the ‘Fact Sheets’ section below.