Proposed Battery Recycling Plant in Hazelwood North

Chinese company Chunxing Corporation is currently seeking approval to construct and operate a Used Lead Acid Battery (ULAB) recycling plant at No. 2047 Fourth Road, Hazelwood North – please refer to location plan above.
The Chinese Government has approved the company, Chunxing Corporation to progress the proposed project and to seek the necessary approvals, with the plan to obtain approval by the end of 2019, with construction commencing early next year. The proposed plant will process some 50,000 tonnes per year of used batteries which will be sourced from Northern Territory, Queensland, NSW, South Australia and Victoria with the used batteries being transported to the site by truck via Tramway Road.
The used batteries will be processed into 28,000 tonnes per year of refined lead which will be transported from the plant via truck along Tramway Road.
The company in the project description claims that there is a “good buffer zone of 2 km’s from the nearest residential areas”.
This is not correct, as there are a number of residences within 2 kms of the proposed site.
There are a number of industries located within close proximity to the proposed site and the Hazelwood North Primary School which has some 140 pupils.
The company advise that they will comply with EPA licence discharge limits for pollutants to the environment.
However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) advises that “there are no known safe levels of exposure to lead, and the health impacts of lead exposure are significant”. The WHO also notes that “young children and women of child bearing age are particularly vulnerable to exposure to, and the toxic effects of lead”. This is of particular concern to the Hazelwood North community. The plant emissions may also adversely impact adjacent farm soil and pastures, the health of grazing livestock and also adversely impact property values in the Hazelwood North and broader area.
Due to the harmful effects of lead, we as a society are removing lead from petrol, paint, ammunition and even fishing sinkers. It seems illogical to knowingly introduce a new source of lead into an area where people live and work and children attend a school.
It is understood the company has already purchased the 13.3 hectare site at No. 2047 Fourth Road, conditional on obtaining approval for the project.
To obtain approval for the project, it is understood that the company will need to obtain EPA Works Approval and Latrobe City Council Planning Approval.
The project proposal was both reported and advertised in the Latrobe Valley Express newspaper on June 13, 2019.
However due to the Latrobe Valley Express no longer being distributed to households within the Hazelwood North area, very few residents were aware of the proposal.
To fulfil EPA requirements, the proponent, Chunxing Corporation is required to conduct community consultation regarding the proposed project. The company has held two community consultation meetings which have been held on June 19 and 25, 2019. However due to the low level of community awareness of the proposal, the level of community attendance at the meetings was very low with only about 12 people attending the first meeting and about 20 people attending the second meeting.
The proponent is seeking to obtain the necessary approvals for the project by the end of this year with construction of the plant early next year.
Whilst additional employment opportunities in the Latrobe Valley are welcome, these industries must ensure a safe environment for all.
Due to the number of concerns regarding the proposal, and the apparent low level of community awareness regarding the project, a small Hazelwood North Community Action Group has been established to further raise community awareness regarding the project, and identify community concerns and to lobby government and regulatory authorities to not approve the project.
Further information is available by logging into noleadsmelter@gmail.com.
Location Plan for Proposed Site of Battery Recycling Plant
Transfer Station Porter’s Road Princes Freeway Waterhole Creek Firmins Lane
Proposed Site of the Battery Recycling Plant Church Road Hazelwood North Primary School Hazelwood Road No. 2047 Fourth Road Hazelwood North.