Community news updates

Community updates on issues currently being managed by the EPA.

 

The EPA is launching a statewide coordinated campaign this spring to reduce the situations which could lead to nasty odours impacting residents.

EPA officer inspecting waste facility near Coffs Harbour

Coffs Harbour odours investigation

The NSW EPA is continuing to monitor remediation work at the Coffs Harbour City Council Landfill to ensure the work is effective in reducing odours for the community.

Upgrades to the landfill’s gas extraction network, required by the EPA under a Pollution Reduction Plan, have been completed. It’s anticipated that the new gas extraction infrastructure will take some weeks to be fully effective.

The EPA continues to conduct odour surveys around the landfill twice a day. The EPA regularly reviews the landfill’s onsite gas monitoring surveys. This work allows the EPA to monitor any trends in odour emissions and the effectiveness of the landfill’s management actions.

Complaints to the EPA about odour from the landfill peaked in April. No complaints have been received since 1 July 2021.

The EPA is launching a statewide coordinated campaign this spring to reduce the situations which could lead to nasty odours impacting residents.

Minchinbury odours investigation

The EPA identified Bingo’s Dial-a-Dump facility at Eastern Creek as a major source of odour impacting neighbours earlier this year in April. A range of measures were put in place to reduce the odour impacts on the community, including restrictions to the company’s environment protection licence.

Since then, Bingo has installed a landfill gas extraction system and flare system to burn the gas, destroying odorous gases generated within the landfill. This has seen the odours reduce with less complaints coming into the EPA

The EPA installed seven monitors in the Minchinbury and Eastern Creek area to detect hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg gas). Air quality data results are scheduled to be updated twice weekly.

EPA officer making an inspection in the field

Hydrogen sulfide monitoring will continue to ensure the odour control measures remain effective. Odour patrols by EPA staff are also used when needed.

Our investigation into potential breaches of legislation and licence requirements is ongoing, and regulatory action will be taken where appropriate.

Regulatory action, such as issuing fines, can take time as it requires evidence gathering that may need to be presented to a Court.

Residents who continue to experience odour are encouraged to report it with details to the EPA’s Environment Line on 131 555.

The EPA is launching a statewide coordinated campaign this spring to reduce the situations which could lead to nasty odours impacting residents.

Bowral waste centre

Odours from Bowral Waste Centre

The EPA fined the Bowral Waste Centre Pty Ltd $15,000 in June 2021 for alleged poor landfill management practices, which likely contributed to the odours. 

The EPA required Bowral Waste Centre to improve waste covering practices and install a system that captures landfill gas emissions and destroys odours. Bowral Waste Centre’s landfill gas management system began operating in late July 2021. 

Bowral Waste Centre says the system will be a permanent solution to the odour problem. The system will continue being adjusted and improved to capture and destroy the maximum amount of smelly landfill gas. The EPA will continue checking to make sure the odours are stopped.

The EPA received more than 100 complaints about offensive ‘rotten egg’ odours from nearby residents between May and August 2021. Since the gas system began operating in late July there’s been a significant reduction in odour complaints.

Residents who experience odours are encouraged to make a report to the EPA’s 24-hour Environment Line on 131 555.

The EPA is launching a statewide coordinated campaign this spring to reduce the situations which could lead to nasty odours impacting residents.

Aerial shot of Woodlawn landfill

Tarago area odours investigation

The EPA is continuing to oversee work to reduce the impact of offensive odours from Veolia’s Woodlawn Landfill.

An infrastructure program to manage water run-off from the landfill is in the final stages of implementation. Additional treatment plant works required by the EPA must be completed by July 2022.

As a result of the EPA’s investigation, Veolia has been directed to cover odour emission points with biofiltration material to help block the smell.

The EPA is conducting regular odour patrols at the site. When COVID restrictions allow, the EPA will also install monitors in the Tarago area to detect hydrogen sulphide - ‘rotten egg’ gas. This study will be conducted over several weeks with the results published on the EPA website.

The EPA fined Veolia $15,000 for alleged leaking containers carrying waste in July 2021.

The EPA encourages residents who experience odours to report to the 24-hour Environment Line on 131 555.

suburban train pulling into a station

Waverton and Wollstonecraft Rail Noise Mitigation

Sydney Trains fined

The EPA has issued Sydney Trains with a $15,000 Penalty Notice for failure to maintain railway track on Sydney’s North Shore Line.

Poor track maintenance between Waverton and Wollstonecraft Railway Stations has resulted in excessive noise impacts to nearby residents.

Waverton and Wollstonecraft railway stations are located on the tightest curves on the Sydney Trains rail network. These tight curves cause wheel squeal and flanging noise that affects the local community.

The EPA has worked with Sydney Trains and the local community, including the Waverton Wollstonecraft Rail Noise Action Group (WWRNAG), to address noise concerns. The EPA has required Sydney Trains to undertake Pollution Reduction Programs to identify the cause and identify possible mitigation methods to reduce noise levels in the area, however no clear solutions have emerged to date.

To definitively address this issue the EPA engaged an independent train noise specialist to undertake a critical review of rail noise mitigation works conducted by Sydney Trains to date at Waverton and Wollstonecraft.

The review concluded that Sydney Trains’ maintenance of the railway track had failed to control and progressively reduce noise impacts. The ineffective maintenance of the railway remains a key failing that has prevented appropriate noise mitigation.

Sydney Trains has also commissioned its own independent study to examine rail acoustics, track engineering and wheel/rail dynamics to assist in determining additional noise mitigation options. The results of this study will inform a range of ongoing and future works to reduce noise impacts at Waverton and Wollstonecraft.

The EPA has received a plan from Sydney Trains to perform further maintenance and is engaging with Sydney Trains to ensure that the issue is resolved as quickly as possible. 

The EPA is launching a statewide coordinated campaign this spring to reduce the situations which could lead to nasty odours impacting residents.

Kembla Grange odours investigation

aerial view of kembla grange

Odour study reports submitted by Wollongong City Council and Soilco are being reviewed by the EPA.

We are considering the reports and how any recommendations can be implemented to help resolve the odour issues affecting residents in Farmborough Heights and Kembla Grange.

Any business regulated by the EPA must ensure it has controls and practices in place to prevent emissions of offensive odours from the premises.

The EPA continues to investigate odour complaints received from the Kembla Grange and Farmborough Heights areas. We encourage any residents with odour concerns to continue contacting the 24/7 Environment Line on 131 555 to make a report, as all information is helpful.

Captains Flat lead investigation

EPA car outside Captains Flat community centre

The EPA, NSW Health, Regional NSW, Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council and other NSW Government agencies are working together at the township of Captains Flat to investigate for high levels of lead, beyond the former Lake George Mine site.

This is precautionary testing in public and community spaces and follows Transport for NSW detecting historical contamination in the rail corridor adjacent to the old Lake George Captains Flat Mine site, at high levels.

  • The EPA has undertaken 80 tests of soil for levels of lead in the township’s road reserves, parks and school, and will share the results with the community.
  • The EPA has also offered soil testing to residents on their own properties.
  • See more information about lead testing in Captains Flat.

Truegain, Rutherford site management

aerial view of the Truegain site

The EPA continues to pursue the owners of the Truegain site, requiring them to manage the site in a way that prevents any offsite pollution.

The EPA has commenced various legal proceedings against the owner, including for allegedly failing to comply with a Clean-Up Notice and Cost Compliance notices.

On 23 February 2021, former director of Truegain Mr Robert Pullinger was convicted and fined in Parramatta Local Court following prosecution by the EPA for providing false information to the EPA and failing to comply with statutory notices to provide information. Mr Pullinger pleaded guilty to the offences.

Proceedings have also commenced against the owner for allegedly failing to comply with a Prohibition Notice issued by the Minister. These proceedings are currently before the courts.

While the court proceedings continue, the EPA has had installed an on-site collection system that allows contaminated water to be collected and disposed of safely. The system is remotely monitored to manage expected and unexpected rainfall events.

This improves on the previous management system where EPA staff regularly inspected the site while also monitoring the weather for predicted heavy rainfall.

The EPA and Fire and Rescue NSW have inspected the laboratory and office building at the front of the site and removed all chemicals from the building for disposal.

The EPA has contacted the owner requiring them to undertake further works to secure the site.

The EPA is currently exploring options for a medium to long-term solution for the Truegain site, which has been abandoned since 2016.

The objective of the project is to reduce any risks to human health and the environment’.

 The tender process has now closed and is being evaluated.

Forestry operations update

The EPA has been advised by Forestry Corporation of NSW (FCNSW) that they will shortly revert to operating under the standard forestry rules, meaning logging in new compartments will not use special site specific conditions put in place to protect burnt forests, following the 2019/20 bushfires.

Based on expert advice and the literature the EPA regards site specific conditions as the most effective way of managing the environmental risks associated with harvesting in landscapes that have been so extensively and severely impacted by fire.

Designed following consultation with experts and government agencies, specific conditions aim to mitigate the environmental risks caused by the bushfires and are tailored for the specific impacts on plants, animals and their habitats, soils and waterways at each site.