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  QUESTION: Seeking advice re safety of Doe Run or other Engitec lead battery recyclers, 12 Jul 2005, New South Wales Australia

Hi

Renewed Metal Technologies Asia Pacific (RMT) has a development application on display at Wagga City Council Chambers until 19 July. They propose to build and operate a lead acid battery recycling plant (secondary lead smelter). They plan to recycle 30,000-42,000 tons of spent lead acid batteries each year. Their EIS states they will have no waste. They will however have a 20 metre stack which will emit, among other things 0.4 micrograms of lead / cubic metre each year. There will also be among other toxins, 49 tons of lead bound in a larger amount of slag produced each year which will be sold to a concrete supplier or sent to the local waste dump. They claim to employ state of the art technology provided by an Italian company called Engitec SPS. They say there are 25 battery recycling lead smelters using Engitec technology operating around the world without any problems.

My questions are:

  1. Can you comment on Engitec battery recycling technology as state of the art?
  2. Do you know of any plants employing this technology ?
  3. Should we be worried?
  4. What factors should we consider when devising our submission to the consent authority (Wagga City Council)?

Any advice would be appreciated. Given short time frame email would be an expedient way to communicate.

Regards
Ron

 
ANSWER: 13 Jul 2005

Dear Lead Network,

I have had an enquiry as to whether lead acid battery recycling plants throughout the world (there are 24 of them) which operate on the CX System (see CX pdf at http://www.engitec.com/PDF/CXSYSTEM.pdf) by Engitec Technologies SpA, Italy, are actually "state of the art" or "best available", as claimed in the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) by Kellogg Brown and Root P/L?

The EIS states: [p7-28] "The most important of the heavy metals (excluding lead) anticipated to be emitted from the plant in terms of quantity is Antimony, which is present as 1.5% to 5% of the lead."

[p7-31] "The battery recycling process aims to be a zero-waste activity, as all slag waste to be used as an additive to concrete products.....The slag [from the smelting operation] is the only potential waste product that may require disposal if not on sold to a concrete contractor."
[p7-34] "The analysis undertaken [on slags from other Engitec plants], demonstrates that the slag produced... may be disposed to the Gregardoo Waste Management Centre [local tip] with Council approval."

The annual slag production (some 700 - 980 tonnes) is estimated to contain around 50 tonnes of lead.

Specifically, the enquirer would like to know whether the community (near a wool-combing factory in a rural town surrounded by grazing and wine-growing areas) should be concerned about the proposal and what issues should they raise in their submission to the consent authority (Wagga City Council).

I wonder whether anyone knows anything about the proponent - Ian Davies of Renewed Metal Technologies (RMT) Asia Pacific of Sydney, whose newly set-up company is not listed in the phone book and who appears less than a dozen times on the web and only in relation to this proposal. Wouldn't you have to have a track record of some kind to set up a AU$17.5million plant?

Any information or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

The 24 Engitec plants are in Austria, Brazil, Canada (at Tonilli), Cuba, Estonia, France (2 plants), Germany (2), Italy (2), Korea, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Tunisia, UK, USA (3 plants) and Yugoslavia.

Of the 24 plants, the following two apparently exemplary plants are described at www.engitec.com/HIGHLIGHTS.htm :

METALLUM AG SCRAP BATTERY COMPONENTS RECOVERY PLANT Location: Pratteln - Switzerland since July 1991

THE DOE RUN COMPANY SCRAP BATTERY COMPONENTS RECOVERY PLANT Location: Boss Missouri - USA since March 1989.

Yours Sincerely
Elizabeth O'Brien

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