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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 1052 asked in the Legislative Council on 19 September 2019 by Hon Dr Steve Thomas

Minister responding: Hon S.N. Dawson
Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on

FORRESTFIELD–AIRPORT LINK — SOIL CONTAMINATION

1052. Hon Dr STEVE THOMAS to the Minister for Environment:

Funnily enough, I refer to PFAS-contaminated soil excavated from the Forrestfield–Airport Link and the answers to questions without notice 903 and 1032 about the material transferred to the Kenwick rail freight facility project, which confirmed that the Public Transport Authority has received no payment for the spoil from the FAL main works contractor or any other entity on the Kenwick rail freight facility project, but plans to pay $2 million to that contractor to take the spoil to be used at the Kenwick rail freight facility project, and to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulations guidance on waste, titled ''Factsheet—Assessing whether material is waste''.

(1) Can the minister confirm that the DWER document ''Factsheet—Assessing whether material is waste'' states —

(a) ''If material is unwanted or excess to requirements, viewed from the perspective of its source/producer, the material is waste'';

(b) ''the fact that the receiver of the material considers it useful (e.g. to fill their land) and economically valuable (e.g. as a substitute for purchased fill material) does not mean that the material is not waste''; and

(c) ''There is no requirement that material must be environmentally harmful in order to be waste''?

(2) If yes to (1), given the PTA is paying the main FAL contractor to take the spoil away, do these requirements apply to the private sector and not to the PTA and the government?

(3) What assessment has DWER made of this transaction to determine whether the contaminated spoil is therefore waste?

(4) Given the PTA has paid to have this material taken from the FAL project, and no entity working on the Kenwick rail freight facility project has paid for it, under what criteria does the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation consider this spoil not to be waste?

(5) Given the driving force for changing the waste definition in soil re-use was the Eclipse court decisions of 2016 and 2017, in which the court determined that the definition of waste includes ''anything left over or superfluous, as excess material, by-products etc., not of use for work in hand'', why is the government now allowing its own PTA to operate in conflict with that decision and the new waste rules it is applying to the private sector?

The PRESIDENT: Minister, before you respond, I am just going to remind the member of standing order 105(1)(a). Questions need to be concise. I am hoping that the response will be a bit more concise than the question.

Hon STEPHEN DAWSON replied:

Indeed, Madam President.

I am advised that answering this question represents a substantial body of work, which is not possible in the time frame given. I give an undertaking that I will provide an answer to the honourable member by Thursday, 26 September 2019.