Overview of Stored HCB Waste and Destruction
What is hexachlorobenzene (HCB)?
HCB (hexachlorobenzene) is a crystalline solid waste by-product. Internationally, it is known and classified as a priority Persistent Organic Pollutant (POP). The physical composition of HCB waste makes it particularly challenging to destroy.
HCB has relatively low acute toxicity but prolonged exposure can impact health. HCB may accumulate in an organism (especially with prolonged or frequent exposure), does not easily break down in the environment and is a possible human carcinogen.
HCB is a hazard to human health if it is ingested, or possibly from direct contact with damaged skin. Contact should be avoided.
HCB was produced as a waste by-product in Orica’s former solvent and plastic manufacturing plants at Botany Industrial Park (BIP) in Australia between 1963 and 1991.
How is HCB waste stored at Botany Industrial Park?
Approximately 15,000 tonnes of HCB waste is stored in approved transport containers at BIP.
The HCB waste stored at Botany is not flammable or volatile. Ongoing implementation of Orica’s Safety, Health & Environment Management System ensures that HCB waste continues to be managed in a safe and secure manner for the protection of workers, the community and the environment.
The storage of HCB waste is licensed under Orica's Environmentally Hazardous Chemicals Act Licence No. 26 (PDF 171.2KB)
Why is the waste repackaged?
The drums containing HCB waste deteriorate over time and thus require repackaging. This increases the volume of waste over time because the used packaging becomes part of the waste stockpile. In mid-2007 Orica commenced automated repackaging of the HCB waste into approved containers. By April 2011 all of the waste had been repackaged. Monitoring of the packaging continues and repackaging is undertaken when required.
Why does it need to be destroyed?
HCB is a priority persistent organic pollutant (POP), and Orica has one of the world's largest remaining stockpiles. There is also international pressure to destroy POP waste (the Stockholm Convention). Furthermore, repackaging activity creates additional waste in the form of used personal protective equipment, crushed drums and pallets.
History of management and disposal efforts
Orica has been actively seeking a safe destruction solution for the HCB waste for three decades.
The following summary of management and disposal efforts was prepared at the request of the CPRC in 2012.
In 2014 Orica applied to export HCB waste to France for destruction. The French Environment Minister requested that the French Authorities refuse the application made in 2014.
In 2016 Orica has applied to export HCB waste to Finland. That application was successful and 135 tonnes of HCB waste has been safely shipped to Finland for destruction. Orica will now progress further export applications.
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