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Demolition and remediation

Though the major proportion of Hydro land is in great shape environmentally, there were small pockets in the buffer zone and material around the smelter site that required remediation.

aerial of site showing the majority of buildings gone.

Hydro completed an initial assessment of the buildings within the site, remediation requirements, and long-term opportunities for adaptive re-use of buildings. Detailed investigations, planning, and consultation with Cessnock City Council (CCC) and the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (DP&E) has occurred.

To date, most of the small areas outside the smelter footprint have been cleaned up. This included some illegal dumping, an old municipal landfill and the demolition of some old residences and chicken sheds.

Demolition by CMA Contracting

In April 2017 CMA Contracting were awarded the demolition contract for the Kurri Kurri Site following an 18 months tendering process. CMA Contracting has operated for more than 30 years in large-scale industrial demolition and resource sector plant deconstruction, including the demolition of steel works, chemical and petrochemical plants and power plants.

CMA contracting became Principle Contractors for the Kurri Kurri site in May 2017.

There are four parts to the demolition and remediation process:

  1. Early Works: this is the relatively simple clean-up work that can be done without any approvals. This is prior to demolition work and is completed.
  2. Stage 1 Demolition: this includes demolition of the majority of site buildings and structures, excluding structures such as stacks, buildings with a potential for reuse, buildings storing waste materials, and below-ground infrastructur This work is also complete.
  3. Stage 2 Demolition: this includes the tall stacks and removal of below-ground infrastructur This was approved by Cessnock City Council in September 2018, and is almost completed.

Remediation

Remediation includes the excavation of contaminated soils and the on-site containment of these, along with non-recyclable waste material. Remediation remains the subject of the State Significant Development Application and the associated EIS for determination by the NSW Minister for Planning.

In each case, reuse or recycling of materials is the preferred option. This covers everything from the basic reuse of computers and furniture by donating them to others, through to finding a recycling option/s for the spent pot lining material currently stored in sheds on site. Site materials including concrete, metal and smelter wastes (such as separated spent pot lining) that can be recycled, will be, where it is a reasonable and feasible option.

Our community reference group (CRG), which was established with the purpose of bringing community input to the project, was involved in the development of criteria to be used in shortlisting potential recyclers of the spent pot lining. Discussions about this are recorded in meeting minutes which are available to view on our Community Reference Group page. While this recycling process is separate to the remediation of the site, Hydro wished to involve the community in the selection of the spent pot lining recycling process.

Over the past two years, Hydro has worked with recyclers of spent pot lining, and to date this has resulted in more than 30000 tonnes of the material being sent for recycling.

The early and straightforward remediation work is virtually complete. This includes the removal of bricks and concrete from areas in the buffer zone, and the repair of landforms. Some areas had a variety of domestic and commercial waste on them (illegally dumped by others), while other areas had large concrete blocks, and other non- hazardous waste materials from the smelter. These areas have now been cleaned-up and the land regraded, and it is now ready for future use. In addition, some decommissioning and preparation for demolition has commenced, such as the removal of asbestos and recovery of aluminium busbars and pot doors.

Our YouTube channel has videos showing progressive demolition of the site.