Burn, not bury rubbish: Incinerator plan


Public comment on an industrial incinerator capable of meeting most needs of the NT closes tomorrow with the Department of Lands.
The facility, planned by local businessman Darren Burton, would be located at the Brewer Estate south of town, cost more than $1.5m and employ 10 to 15 people initially.
The Top End based Rural Residents’ Rights (RRR) Group has lodged an objection.
Mr Burton says the facility would emit no toxic or poisonous gases and would reduce waste to 3% of its original volume.
It would comply with requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency which “would have capability of remotely monitoring emissions through sensors in the stack 24/7”.
“Currently there is no commercial incinerator in the Northern Territory,” says Mr Burton’s application.
“Waste such as oil, grease and paint are being stored perpetually. Waste such as shredded paper documents, TV’s, computers, plastics etc are part of the landfill at council waste dumps.
“There is continuous risk of pollution of the aquifers and atmosphere from leachates and gases.
“Medical waste is being transported from Darwin and Alice Springs to Adelaide for incineration, at great expense, and creating further carbon emissions,” he says.
“Backyard operations may burn plastic of cables for metal recycling. Police need to be able to destroy illegal drugs and substances.
“A commercial incinerator can deal with all of these situations in an environmentally controlled and approved manner.
“All incoming waste to be treated is locked in a secured area. The ashes of incinerated waste are bagged and stored, also in a secured area, until final transport arrives to move the final residue to Adelaide.”
Mr Burton says the incinerator would be fueled by gas from the existing pipeline, which runs parallel to Brewer Road, on the inside of the property boundary.
He is not certain how much material would be burned, but he says large amounts are transported south from and through Alice Springs.
Meanwhile RRR describes the planned plant as high-risk and claims it is “highly inappropriate and poses a huge danger to human and environmental health.
“The Alice Springs Council has a zero waste policy that involves recycling not incineration.
“We realise that ‘waste-to-energy’ concepts are too hard for development-at-all-costs governments but a waste incinerator as proposed is not a viable alternative.”
Incineration is also the dirtiest way to reduce waste, says RRR: “It is more polluting than landfill.”


  1. Well done, Darren. A born and bred that is willing to believe in this town and its people and create opportunities. Let’s stop sending our money over the borders to the Mexicans and keep it here for locals.

  2. If we are going to burn waste (at an energy plant !) we should at least investigate the potential of energy capture / storage though the process to help offset the incineration.

  3. Burning rubbish is not a solution. Particularly this proposal.
    There is a need for an independent environmental assessment before the Minister can in good conscience approve this development proposal.
    The application is too light on detail and too vague in relation to impacts and potential of toxic plumes.
    This incinerator is not a plasma torch that vaporises the waste and all dangerous compounds and chemicals. It is simply a gas fired incinerator that is proposing to burn all sorts of waste.
    The removal of toxins can really only effectively be done by increasing the heat. Gas temperatures can burn at 2000C maximum while plasma torchs range from 2200-14000C.
    You wouldn’t throw your TV on the gas stove when you’re done with it, nor should we do this as a town.
    Recycling and reforming waste is the answer – not burning it.

  4. There is a considerable amount of medical waste which has to be incinerated, presently we are paying others to do it for us, not only does it make economic sense to dispose of our own waste in my view it fulfills a moral responsibility.
    Like most I have some reservations about incineration, I certainly wouldn’t like to see items that can reasonably be recycled incinerated.
    However Darren assures us that this process produces no toxic fumes can be monitored for that assurance and reduces waste to 3% of its original volume that’s got to be a good thing doesn’t it?
    Council is presently trying to secure more Land on which to deposit left over waste, surely the less area we fowl up with waste in an area very much at risk of leeching into our water supply the better the overall pollution risk.
    So before reacting hysterically against this project let’s at least take a good look at the science behind it and make a balanced decision about which waste is suitable for one process or the other.
    In the meantime Darren is to be congratulated for showing the kind of entrepreneurial spirit this town so desperately needs if it is ever going to extract itself from the endless cycle of bureaucracy and welfare dependence.
    Good on you, Darren, I wish you every success.

  5. Where is the environmental assessment on this? What is the view of the Alice Council? And what has “born and bred” got to do with it?
    I’m so over proposals being put up by CLP mates. If it’s a good idea then let it be subject to the proper scrutiny and let’s see the environmental assessment.
    And exactly what waste is it going to burn? How is it going to get there?

  6. It appears to me Melanie that what your really sick to death of, or should I say threatened, or maybe even a tiny bit envious of, has nothing to do with the CLP.
    Rather it is private enterprise, people having a go, people who aren’t wedded to the great cycle of dependency, people who have the capacity to do things for themselves without having to ask for “Funding”!
    That’s actually how the real world operates, believe it or not, Melanie!
    Don’t you think its good when one of our own [born and bred] makes good? Locals creating wealth? Creating employment for our kids in our town?
    Perhaps you are just saying you’d rather dump your garbage on other peoples door steps, use good tax payer dollars to pay for it, while turning a blind eye to any moral responsibility for the outcome?
    Personally I think, burn it here or burn it in there, it still goes into the atmosphere!
    So why don’t we do the right thing take responsibility for our own garbage and keep the tax dollar at home, employ our own.
    Melanie, every new project is subject to rigorous scrutiny through a very rigorous planning process.
    Every aspect of its operation including structural operational, environmental and social impacts are looked at in detail before any go ahead is given.
    If we have a problem here in the Territory it’s far too much scrutiny, not too little.
    Our levels of scrutiny and regulation make us the most difficult place in the nation to get any kid of project off the ground.
    You should know about that Melanie, that’s how Labor strangled our growth for so long!

  7. I didn’t wish to be drawn to discussing this topic online.
    To Ms Ross: I have spent close to year putting this proposal through the correct channels, costing me time and money.
    As I was born in Alice and have invested in businesses and property in my home Alice Springs I find it insulting that it is thought I would not take this opportunity to build a facility that meet all EPA and work health guidelines and rules.
    I have been working closely with EPA lodging a notice of intent, also meeting in person with the EPA board in Darwin.
    The information supplied about the incinerator 3T was to show the type of incinerator we would be installing.
    We are still talking with manufacturers of the size and type of unit that best fits our needs and meets all requirements of the EPA.
    The development will be as green as possible, generating our own power, using rainwater and only clearing part of the block being used.
    So far as storage and handling of waste are concerned, this modern facility would meet all guidelines.
    The facility is for the destruction of wastes that can’t be recycled or buried in a landfill.
    I hope this has answered some of the questions and statements put forward. There is a need for this development and I will work with the relevant authorities to meet all their requirements.

  8. This is an interesting proposal in my view with merit. Whilst I am committed to a sustainable approach, we must remember that we all (yes, you and me) create a lot of waste.
    A portion of this waste cannot be reused or recycled at the moment. Medical waste is a good example. It is our responsibility to do something with it. It is not fair or sustainable to send it away to another community to deal with, and no doubt expensive.
    So what do we do? Do we bury it? Or burn it? In the long term we want to avoid it, but there will always be some wastes which we can’t avoid. Most of wastes aren’t a big threat to the environment, but are a nuisance and need to be treated carefully.
    Judging only by the cost of this proposal and engineering work I’ve done in this field, it is quite a small incinerator.
    Emissions cleaning technologies are readily available and if installed and used properly, very effective.
    Technically there is no reason this sort of plant cannot operate cleanly and effectively and with no threat to the community.

  9. I would say there is a great risk of people getting cancer from this. And what about climate change? We have just spent millions on the G20 summit about climate change and we are looking into reducing burning fossil fuels. There has to be a better way.

  10. Fred. Based on work I’ve done with other facilities around the world of this nature it is likely that there would be practically zero chance of anyone getting cancer.
    If it’s not burnt here then I understand it is trucked elsewhere and burnt. So this proposal therefore has a reduction in carbon emissions compared to the current practice.
    It is arguable whether it is fair to send our waste to someone else to take care of.


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