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The opening of the Sinter Machine Emissions Reduction Plant in September 2004 represented a $94 million investment in cleaner air for employees and neighbours of BlueScope Steel's Port Kembla Steelworks.
The Premier of New South Wales, Hon. Bob Carr MP officially opened one of the most significant environmental improvement projects in the Port Kembla Steelworks' long term environmental management plan.
The investment does not add to the company's bottom line, in fact it costs BlueScope Steel to run and maintain the plant. The project is an example of the Company's commitment to improve environmental conditions in and around the Steelworks.
At the Sinter Plant, fine particles of coke, iron ore and limestone, and recycled iron-bearing dusts are burnt to make sinter, which is used in the ironmaking process. The gas released through the Sinter Plant stack contains fine dust particles and trace levels of dioxins.
Following an extensive worldwide search to identify a technology to address dust and dioxin emissions from the Sinter Plant, the technology developed by Sumitomo Heavy Industries of Japan was selected. The technology employs a carbon packed bed filter which uses activated char granules to filter dust from the waste gas stream. The activated char adsorbs* dioxins, sulphur dioxide, sulphur trioxide and heavy metals. The char is later regenerated (re-activated) at high temperature, which destroys the dioxins.
Prior to installing the gas cleaning plant, dust in the waste gas stream was around 80-100 milligrams per normal cubic metre and dioxin levels were at around 3 nanograms per normal cubic metre of waste gas (1 nanogram is 1 billionth of a gram. A grain of sand weighs around 300,000 nanograms). Tests to date indicate the plant is achieving its target for less than 20 milligrams of dust per normal cubic metre, an 80 per cent reduction, and is exceeding the dioxin target of 0.3 nanograms per normal cubic metre, and achieving a reduction of nearing 97 per cent.
The upgrade has reduced both dust levels and dioxin emissions, virtually eliminating the single biggest plume from the Port Kembla Steelworks.
* adsorbs = clings to rather than absorb into
Sulphur Dioxide (SOx) emissions from the Port Kembla Steelworks will be significantly reduced through the installation of a Sulphur Rich Gas Treatment Plant.
The Treatment Plant will be added onto the recently opened Sinter Machine Emission Reduction Plant (SMERP) at the steelworks.
Sulphur rich gas from the SMERP will be treated with limestone. The sulphur in the gas reacts with the limestone to form calcium sulphate, or gypsum, which will be sold to the cement industry. Gypsum is used in cement making.
When fully operational, the Sulphur Rich Gas Treatment Plant will prevent 2500 tonnes of sulphur dioxide being emitted from the Steelworks, while converting a waste product into a marketable product for the cement industry.
The plant will be constructed during 2005.