Locals fear toxic pollutants from waste-to-energy plant

Bulldozer works on landfill site (toxic)
Image: Shutterstock

Hume residents are voicing their concerns over a plan to generate energy by burning Sydney’s rubbish in the southern tablelands, where energy minister Angus Taylor is facing a challenge from the independent candidate Penny Ackery.

According to The Guardian, Veolia Environmental Services lodged an application to for approval to develop an Advanced Energy Recovery Centre at the Woodlawn Eco-Precinct west of Tarago.

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The former mine site has been used for waste management and landfill by Veolia for the past 20 years. The $600 million waste-to-energy project would burn 380,000 tonnes of rubbish, generating steam and converting it into 39MW of electricity to power 50,000 homes annually, the company says.

Residents have voiced their objections to the plan over concerns about toxic emissions and started a petition to state parliament.

“We want to protect our country; we also want to protect the future for our kids,” Lake Bathurst resident Felicity Reynolds said.

“We are kind of a dumping ground because they need a pollution pass and this is the solution they’ve come up with, because Sydney is saying no.”

According to The Guardian, Angus Taylor met with Veolia late last year to raise issues regarding toxic pollutants put to him by concerned community members.

“I expect Veolia to engage constructively with the community and resolve those issues that are of real concern. I made that clear on meeting with them and I will continue to. This is a matter for the NSW state planning process,” Taylor said via statement.

Independent candidate Penny Ackery told The Guardian she saw an incongruity between government-authorised campaigns about waste recycling and plans to incinerate refuse at Lithgow, Parkes and the Richmond Valley in addition to the southern tablelands.

“Regional people are perhaps—definitely—feeling like they are a dumping ground,” she said.

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“I think Australia needs to be at the forefront, not finding out down the track that this wasn’t a very good idea.

“As a community independent, [I believe] the first thing they need to do is to have a really open discussion and tell the people from Tarago exactly what is going to happen. Put the plans on the table.”

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