Eastern Creek commissioning progresses

Sunday, 17 April, 2005

The Eastern Creek UR-3R Facility achieved practical completion on 11 September 2004. From that day, treatment of municipal solid waste commenced through the receivals, separation and composting section of the plant with the target of achieving full design throughput by the end of quarter one, 2005.

Initial operations were confined to a single eight-hour shift per weekday while the plant was 'debugged' and the operations team was trained in the control and management of the facility.

Throughput has already increased from 100 tonnes per shift to over 230 tonnes per shift. With performance consistently above 200 tonnes per shift, the operating hours were increased to cover weekends and, as at 22 November, increased to two shifts per day. While ongoing work is required to fully optimise some sections of the plant, the current performance of around 70% of design is in line with the ramp-up schedule. The target of 250-300 tonnes per shift by the end of quarter one, 2005 remains realistic.

The ramp-up of the percolator and digester circuit similarly commenced on 11 September 2004 with the introduction of sewage digester biomass to the first digester as a source of inoculum. This has been followed by five weeks of artificial feeding on a combination of pig manure and beer and yeast waste in order to grow the bacterial population. The first percolator was brought on line in mid October and since then the first digester has been given increased dosages of percolate with the artificial feed now completely phased out. In parallel with this transition, the second digester has been seeded with sewage digester biomass and is now being acclimatised using the same mix of artificial feeds. Both digesters are behaving well under the management of the ISKA technology experts and Dr Sandeep Chugh of GRD Minproc.

The composting process is operating efficiently, with the first batch of recycled organic products now available for trials in the compost refining equipment. A full suite of tests on this material is currently being undertaken with the specific intention of ensuring it meets the standards required under AS4454.

External assistance from retired SAI Global auditor Mr Gary Kimble has been obtained to ensure the process and product can gain accreditation in the first half of 2005.

The biological odour control system is also proving to be very effective. The UR-3R Process is producing consistent quality product, which has gained acceptance from Global Renewables' off-take customers.

In all, commissioning progress has been in accordance with the ramp-up schedule with no significant problems encountered to date.

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