Public exhibition of this review of environmental factors provided an important opportunity for members of the community to have a say about the removal of exploded ordnance waste proposed by the Department of Defence. The Department of Defence is the proponent and the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is the determining authority for this activity under Part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
The Department of Defence has used part of Bundjalung National Park for Air Force training operations since 1940. Although the Department of Defence has 2 leases within Bundjalung National Park, the proposed activity will occur outside of these leases.
Defence are proposing to sort and process stockpiles of exploded ordnance waste that remain from air force training activities. Most materials will be processed by a mobile incinerator in Bundjalung National Park before being transferred offsite to be recycled at an Environment Protection Authority licensed facility.
In the operational phase of the project, heavy vehicles will access the site via The Gap Road and smaller vehicles will potentially access the site via the north gate through Evans Head. There are 2 main work sites within Bundjalung National Park. One is on Target Road, which where exploded ordnance has been stockpiled for many years. This is considered a contamination risk to the national park. The second site is the processing location on North Gate Road, about 2.5 kilometres by road north of the stockpile site and 1.6 kilometres from the park boundary. This site is a helipad used by NPWS for aerial operations including wildfire management, prescribed burns, and pest and weed management.
After sorting and removing non-hazardous materials for disposal, an estimated 300 tonnes of exploded ordnance will be moved from the Target Road stockpiles to the helipad worksite on North Gate Road. The ground where the stockpiles have been sitting will be excavated to remove contaminated soil. At North Gate Road, the exploded ordnance will be treated in a mobile incinerator called a Waste Ordnance Light Flashing Furnace (WOLFF) to ensure that it is free from explosives and can be transported safely offsite. The treated ordnance will then be trucked out of the park to the licensed metal recycling facility.
NPWS will comprehensively review all submissions, prepare a submissions report and request further information if necessary from the Department of Defence.
NPWS will Determine the review of environmental factors, based on its review of the documents and the information provided in submissions. If the Determination recommends that the activity may proceed, a licence will be issued for this activity under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974. If approved, the project is expected to take 3–6 months to complete.