FEDERAL Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane was on hand at Oakey Abattoir today to launch an environmental initiative which will deliver greater energy security and a cleaner, greener future.
One of Australia's largest beef processing plants, Oakey Abattoir will use the Covered High Rate Anaerobic (COHRAL) Lagoon to extract green energy biogas from its waste water streams to replace millions of dollars worth of natural gas currently consumed at the abattoir.
In addition to lowering the plant's dependency on increasingly expensive supplies of natural gas, the Global Water Engineering (GWE) anaerobic digestion plant will simultaneously reduce the plant's carbon footprint and produce waste water far cleaner than typical waste lagoons.
Oakey Abattoir's General Manager Pat Gleeson said the plant was expected to repay its cost of construction inside five years.
"The savings will be in the many millions of dollars which will then continue to deliver benefits and profitability virtually in perpetuity," Mr Gleeson said.
The installation of the GWE COHRAL technology by Australian environmental engineering and green energy authority CST Wastewater solutions is the first of its kind in the world, deploying for the first time in a covered lagoon, technology proven in more than 300 reactor installations worldwide.
"COHRAL technology - which is applicable to both livestock and cropping operations - uses concentrated anaerobic bacteria to digest 70 percent of the organic matter COD, or Chemical Oxygen Demand, in Oakey Abattoir's waste water to produce effluent of far high quality than typical open lagoons.
"Adoption of the technology is the result of an exhaustive selection process and the committed alliance to the environment of Oakey Abattoir and its owners Nippon Meat Packers," Mr Gleeson said.
Oakey Abattoir currently employs 750 people and adheres to Nippon Meat Packers' strict environmental guidelines and is a major operator across Australia, exporting to 34 countries.
"It is an initiative that sets an outstanding precedent for agribusiness in Australia because the cost-effective technology can turn an environmental problem into profit by simultaneously enhancing water quality and lowering fuel bills," Mr Gleeson said.
"Importantly, it helps us to guard against future price rises in the cost of energy and imposts such as a carbon tax."