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Alcoa Wagerup Alumina Refinery

Background

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) is carrying out two assessments relating to Alcoa of Australia Limited’s (Alcoa) Wagerup Alumina Refinery. 

  1. A noise application to the Environment Minister under regulation 17 of the Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997 (Noise Regulations).
  2. A DWER-initiated review of Licence L6217/1983/15 held by Alcoa under Part V of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (EP Act).

Public consultation for both matters has closed (31 January 2018). 

Noise assessment

In 2012, the Environment Minister granted Alcoa approval to vary the allowable level of noise from its Wagerup Alumina Refinery from the prescribed standard.

The approval was published in the Government Gazette on 29 June 2012. Appeals lodged against the 2012 approval resulted in amendments, which were published in the Government Gazette on 10 December 2013.

The 2013 approval provides for Alcoa to:

  • Vary the allowable level of noise emissions from the Wagerup Alumina Refinery at specified locations.
  • Implement a Noise Amelioration Plan(NAP) which sets out procedures for noise insulation of impacted buildings and a land management plan for Alcoa's purchase of noise-affected land.
  • Undertake continuous and point-in-time noise monitoring programmes using specialist and independent noise consultants.
  • Report data and information to the Department and the public.

Following Alcoa’s submission of the NAP in 2014, the Department released the document for public consultation and published a consultation outcomes paper recommending revisions. Alcoa submitted a revised NAP to the Department in 2015 addressing the matters requested by the Department.

The 2013 approval provided for a two-year duration (expiring on 10 December 2015), unless Alcoa applied for a further approval within the first 18 months.

Alcoa lodged an application for a further noise approval with the Environment Minister on 5 May 2015. Therefore, the 2013 noise approval continues to have effect until the Minister grants or refuses to grant a further noise approval.

The Environment Minister referred the application to the Department, asking that it inquire into and report on a proposed further approval. Alcoa has since submitted supporting documentation and paid the required fee.

The approach to the existing noise approval was extensively considered by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and subject to community consultation and an appeals process. DWER's assessment will focus on the practicality, appropriateness and effectiveness of the existing noise approval requirements and will look at exposure reduction strategies, as established by the EPA.

Licence review

DWER has commenced a risk-based review of Licence L6217/1983/15 held by Alcoa for the Wagerup Alumina Refinery. The review aims to align the licence with the Department’s Regulatory Framework.

A copy of the existing licence is available on DWER’s website by searching ‘L6217’.

A third party appeal was lodged against the conditions of Licence 6217/1983/15 when it was amended on 30 October 2015. The Environment Minister considered the Appeals Convenor's Report and published his Appeal Determination on 20 February 2018. The Minister allowed the appeal to the extent that he requested DWER to:

  • ensure the identified uncertainties in respect to volatile organic compound emissions, particularly in relation to low-level sources, are consider as part of the review currently underway;
  • review the nature and scale of particulate emissions from the premises generally, and PMin particular;
  • consider the implications of the apparent increase in mercury emissions shown in recent National Pollutant Inventory data; and
  • amend existing licence condition W2 to ensure that no contaminated water is released to the envitronment from the premises, consistent with the commitment already contained in Alcoa's Long Term Residue Management Strategy.

What is happening now?

Noise assessment

DWER’s risk-based assessment of Alcoa’s noise approval application is underway. It will take account of the submissions received during the public consultation period. The assessment is scheduled to be completed towards the end of 2018.

On completion of the assessment, DWER will provide a report to the Environment Minister who will determine whether to grant or refuse to grant a further noise approval.

Licence review

DWER is continuing its risk-based review of Licence L6217/1983/15 held by Alcoa for the Wagerup Alumina Refinery.

The review will take account of the submissions received during the public consultation period and the recommendations made in the Environment Minister’s appeal determination. The review is scheduled to be completed towards the end of 2018. 

DWER representatives attended the Wagerup Refinery Community Consultative Network on 22 June 2018, providing information on the Department's Regulatory Framework and the review process. 

More information

The Department will update this page as new information comes to hand.

If you have any questions related to the noise application or licence review, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and quote 'L6217' on matters relating to the licence review and 'Reg17' if your query relates to the noise assessment.

 

Updated 12 July 2018