Heavy metal levels rock AGL


AGL Macquarie in the Upper Hunter has suspended sales of its coal ash and ash by-products following elevated levels of heavy metals found during testing.

AGL’s executive general manager of group operations Doug Jackson says the company is aware that some of the coal ash from its Bayswater and Liddell power stations show elevated levels of heavy metals including chromium, cadmium and copper exceeding limits set by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

“We have spoken with all businesses who have purchased our ash and they have indicated to us that their products that have been sold into various markets have met all of the required standards,” Mr Jackson says.

Related article: Adani’s new mini version of its mega mine still faces some big hurdles

“Our external expert’s initial advice is that the levels detected in the coal ash samples taken do not pose a risk to public or worker health and are unlikely to pose an unacceptable risk to the environment given the uses to which the coal ash is put.

“We acknowledge failures in our own practices, and a thorough review is underway.”

AGL has notified the EPA, SafeWork NSW, NSW Health and all businesses that purchase the ash to use in products such as concrete.

Related article: Key link in Northern Gas Pipeline complete

The composition of the ash being sold is governed by the EPA Coal Ash Order 2014. The order imposes obligations on generators and processors of coal ash, which AGL says it takes seriously.

“We have asked those businesses that have purchased our ash to cease any further distribution of ash purchased from AGL and have provided assurances we will help them find alternative sources to minimise impacts on their businesses,” Mr Jackson says.

“We have engaged independent scientific experts to undertake testing of AGL’s coal ash and will ensure these results are fully disclosed.”