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Auckland Airport's green move to steam technology

Media release

Thursday 14th July 2005

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Auckland International Airport Limited has signed an agreement with New Zealand company Medi-Chem Waste Services Limited to replace the current airport incinerator with a state-of-the-art steam sterilisation unit.

The airport operates the current incinerator as part of its statutory responsibility to provide a disposal facility for quarantine waste from international flights. It also provides incineration services to other users in New Zealand.

The airport company has been investigating options for replacing the incinerator with more environmentally-friendly steam sterilisation and conducted an international tender for the development.

AIA general manager - engineering, Steve Reindler, says that the new unit will be built on the site of the current incinerator, "The facility will utilise the latest steam sterilisation technology which produces zero harmful emissions to the atmosphere, in a configuration which has the potential for recycling and recovery initiatives.

"Operating in a manner that minimises the adverse impact on our local community and physical environs is one of our core values.

"Medi-Chem will build, own and operate the new facility on behalf of the airport company for an initial period of 20 years."

The steam-sterilisation unit will be one of the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere processing more than of 5,500 tonnes per annum. It will have considerable capacity to accommodate growth in the airport as well as servicing quarantine and medical waste markets in the upper North Island.

Medi-Chem director, Lincoln Falconer, says that this new facility would complement Medi-Chem's operations at East Tamaki, "We have highly sophisticated plant for processing a range of hazardous waste. We want to show New Zealand businesses that many things they currently 'throw in a skip' can be recycled or more responsibly processed at reasonable cost.

"With the new plant at Auckland Airport, we will also be doing our part to ensure that potential bio-security threats are managed efficiently, effectively and in an environmentally-sustainable way."

Greenpeace executive director, Margaret Crozier, said the organisation was delighted that Auckland Airport had made the move, "The company has listened to the views of Greenpeace and local people," she said, "This is a positive step for both people and the environment."

It is anticipated that construction of the new sterilisation facility will commence in the latter part of this year. It will be commissioned in early to mid 2006. At that time the incineration operation will cease.

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