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Maryvale Mill temporary Operating licence – Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria

The lack of VicForests’ wood supply continues to create challenges for the Maryvale Mill and is expected to impact white paper production on or around 23 December.

Opal Australian Paper has proactively engaged with the EPA to advise of the impact the wood supply issue will have on the Mill’s white paper operations.

As a result of necessary changes to the Mill’s operating assets caused by the supply issue, we have applied to the EPA Victoria seeking temporary relief on certain elements of our operating licence for 120 days.

This temporary license application relates specifically to short term changes and no longer-term decisions on operational changes at the Mill have been made at this stage.

Application to the EPA Victoria

Opal Australian Paper takes its environmental obligations very seriously. Operation of the Mill assets in a modified configuration has potential for changes to certain air and surface water discharges and compliance with the associated EPA Victoria operating licence conditions and limits (OL000046547).

As a result of the above, Opal has applied for an authorisation of an activity under section 157 of the Environment Protection Act 2017 (Vic), which is required to address the immediate measures we must take in response to the loss of wood supply from VicForests.

EPA Victoria has assessed and approved a temporary licence amendment along with strict conditions.

The specific temporary licence discharge limit amendments are:

  • Recovery Boiler R6 air emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) maximum increased from 2500 grams per minute to 5000 g/min during periods when Recovery Boiler R5 is offline (R5 licence limit is 2920 g/min) and an increase in 90th percentile limits from 500 g/min to 1500g/min.
  • Recovery Boiler R5 air emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) maximum increased from 2920 g/min to 5000 g/min during periods when Recovery Boiler R6 is offline (R6 licence limit is 2500 g/min) and an increase in 90th percentile limits from 1000 g/min to 1500g/min.
  • Waste Water Treatment Plant Discharge to River Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) maximum increased from 30 milligrams/litre to 45 mg/L.
  • Waste Water Treatment Plant Discharge to River Ammonia maximum increased from 3.1 mg/L to 4.5 mg/L.
  • Waste Water Treatment Plant Discharge to River Colour maximum increased from 200 PCU to 250PCU.

All other discharge emissions licence limits remain unchanged.

Opal will be undertaking additional monitoring of the temporary discharge emissions during this period.

Whilst unlikely, the colour of river discharge may be observable at the discharge point if it does increase during this temporary period, however this is likely to dissipate rapidly given the much larger river flows in comparison to the discharge flow. There is not expected to be detrimental impacts from the potential temporary increases associated with BOD and Ammonia.

Opal does not anticipate any change to the risk of odour emissions and no changes have been sought with regards to NOx, particulates, and pH emission limits.

Opal engaged Jacobs Group consultants to conduct an impact analysis of these temporary licence limit amendments for particular discharge points in conjunction with lower site total air and river discharge volumes. The potential temporary increases have been assessed and are considered unlikely to cause significant adverse effects during this temporary period. The assessments have included use of conservative assumptions that represent worst case outcomes. It is also important to acknowledge these are the maximum limits and it is anticipated that average operating conditions will be below these limits.

An Authorisation granted under section 157 is considered to be the most appropriate immediate short-term response. Opal has and will continue to assess the impact of the changes and take steps to minimise risks of harm to human health and the environment so far as reasonably practicable. These steps include implementing mitigations and additional process/emissions monitoring.

Next steps

Opal Australian Paper is now implementing these temporary licence amendments at Maryvale Mill, including additional process and emissions monitoring.