Community news updates

Community updates on issues currently being managed by the EPA.

EPA officer inspecting waste facility near Coffs Harbour

Coffs Harbour odours investigation

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

Changes to operations at the landfill to address odours were required by a Pollution Reduction Program added by the EPA to the Council’s environment protection licence in June 2021.

The surface area of the landfill has been reduced and capping material has been placed on the landfill where odours were being generated. This will reduce the potential for odours to escape and reduce rain reaching the waste, which can generate smelly landfill gas.

Following these works, odours and complaints have significantly reduced however, intermittent spikes in odour are still occurring. The EPA has identified that the landfill gas extraction system may not be operating as efficiently as it should. As such, the landfill’s gas extraction network will be upgraded over the next four weeks.

The EPA continues to carry out odour surveys around the landfill twice each day. The EPA is also reviewing the landfill’s onsite gas monitoring surveys. This work allows the EPA to continue to narrow down new odour generating sources and require action as they are identified.

Complaints to the EPA about odour from the landfill peaked in April and we are now receiving an average of two complaints a week.

The EPA will take all necessary regulatory  action to continue to require council to resolve these odours for neighbours and the community.

Minchinbury odours investigation

Ongoing air monitoring

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

EPA officer making an inspection in the field

The EPA understands this has been a major issue that affected many residents, businesses and workers in Eastern Creek, Minchinbury, Mt Druitt, St Clair, Erskine Park, Horsley Park and nearby areas. Around 800 odour reports were made to the EPA between late March and mid June 2021.

Our work shows odours have reduced significantly in terms of frequency, intensity and duration, showing that our actions are helping to resolve the problems.

We identified Bingo’s Dial-a-Dump facility at Eastern Creek as a major source of odour in April 2021 and issued a Clean Up Notice. Changes to their Environment Protection Licence required urgent steps to be taken to prevent odours, such as improving coverage of waste, restricting the amount and type of waste that can be tipped, and reducing the area where waste can be tipped.

Bingo has installed a landfill gas extraction system and flare system to burn the gas and destroy odorous gases that are generated within the landfill. The gas collection system commenced operation on 18 May 2021. Installation of additional gas wells has been continuing since that time, with 31 gas wells connected to three flares as at 13 July 2021.

Over 50 odour surveys have been conducted by EPA officers at various times of the day and night. We have also installed monitors that detect hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg gas) in nearby businesses and residential areas.

Odour patrols and hydrogen sulfide monitoring will continue to ensure the odour control measures remain effective for the community.

mist over a grassy field

Bingo is required to develop a landfill gas management plan, and we are updating licence conditions that regulate landfill gas collection, management, and monitoring measures.

It is an offence under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act for licenced premises to emit offensive odours. Failure to comply with licence conditions can result in regulatory action including prosecution and penalties.

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, requires gathering evidence that may need to be presented to a Court, so this process takes time.

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

Bowral waste centre

Odours from Bowral Waste Centre

The EPA is aware that residents and businesses in Bowral have been subjected to unpleasant odours recently. The EPA has received more than 30 complaints from  people living and working near the Bowral Waste Centre landfill in Kiama Street about offensive ‘rotten egg’ odours since May this year.

The EPA has investigated the odours and confirmed the source is the Bowral Waste Centre, which is regulated by the EPA through an environment protection licence.  It is believed fugitive gas emissions are the major source of the odours.

In response, the EPA has instructed the licensee and operator of the landfill, Bowral Waste Centre Pty Ltd, to improve its covering of waste and management of leachate (which is water that has come into contact with waste). The operator has also engaged an odour specialist to look at infrastructure to capture gas emissions and destroy odours.

On 22 June 2021 the EPA fined the Bowral Waste Centre Pty Ltd $15,000 for alleged poor landfill management practices, which likely contributed to the emission of the odours.  During the most recent inspection of the site on 18 June 2021 EPA officers observed a large area of uncovered waste at the south western corner of the landfill. 

The company’s licence requires exposed waste to be covered at the end of each day. This requirement reduces the chance that odours can escape offsite and impact nearby homes and businesses. The EPA expects all licensees to comply with the requirements of their environment protection licence and make sure their operations do not impact on the community.

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

Aerial shot of Woodlawn landfill

Tarago area odours investigation

The EPA is aware residents in the Tarago area have been impacted by unpleasant odours.

The EPA has investigated more than 100 complaints received about offensive odour from the Woodlawn Landfill this year, the majority received since April. The landfill is operated by Veolia Environmental Solutions (Australia) Pty Ltd.

As a result of the EPA’s investigation, the cause of the odour is believed to be fugitive gas emissions from the waste mass. Veolia has been instructed to address the emissions with the installation of additional gas collection equipment, by covering odour emission points with biofiltration material which will help to block the smell and bringing in additional gas monitoring.

A longer term infrastructure program to manage leachate is in the final stages of being commissioned and this should also help manage odours at the site.

The EPA is working to ensure Veolia’s actions are effective and the impacts on the community are addressed.

The EPA encourages residents who experience odour to report to the 24 hour Enviro Line on 131 555. All complaints received are looked in to and provide valuable information about odour spread, trends and impact.

We will keep the community updated via our website and social media channels.

To minimise exposure to odours, residents are advised to close doors and windows and seal entry points. At times of no, or low odour levels, it is important to ventilate your home to prevent build-up of odours in indoor air.

If residents are concerned about their symptoms or if symptoms persist once the odours have ceased, they should seek advice from their General Practitioner.

suburban train pulling into a station

Waverton and Wollstonecraft Rail Noise Mitigation

The EPA has commissioned an independent consultant to review the work conducted at Waverton and Wollstonecraft to mitigate rail noise.

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 has engaged an independent train noise specialist to undertake a critical review of rail noise mitigation works conducted to date at Waverton and Wollstonecraft.

The consultant will make recommendations regarding the most practical, effective and cost-effective tools and options available to mitigate rail noise at Waverton and Wollstonecraft. The report should include the best option or combination of options available and any in situ trials that may be necessary.

The review is expected to be provided to the EPA for evaluation by mid 2021.

female EPA officer installing noise monitors

Noise in Port Botany

The EPA is aware residents in the Port Botany area are being impacted by noise and we are working collaboratively with industry, local government and government authorities to investigate potential noise sources and any mitigation options.

Residents have complained about low frequency noise and bangs, crashes and beeping. The complaints are mostly at night.

Noise monitoring commissioned late in 2020 by NSW Ports  concluded the largest source of low frequency noise in the area was ships berthed at Port Botany. The report also identified there were other sources of low frequency noise in the area.

Based on these findings the EPA has engaged specialist noise experts to conduct further monitoring to consider non-ship sources of low frequency noise in the Port Botany area.

Noise monitors have been installed at the properties of five residents who have agreed to take part in the EPA’s noise surveys

The EPA is grateful to the residents who will host the monitors for approximately one month.

The monitoring results will be used to help us better understand potential sources of low frequency noise that may be present in the Port Botany area and impacting on surrounding residents.

The EPA will keep the community informed of our investigations.

Port-related noise can be reported to NSW Ports on 1300 922 524, or via the website or via your council.

Noise reports can also be made to the EPA’s 24/7 Environment Line on 131 555.

Kembla Grange odours investigation

aerial view of kembla grange

In early 2021, the EPA directed both Wollongong City Council and Soilco Pty Ltd to complete odour studies into offensive odours impacting residents in Farmborough Heights and Kembla Grange.

Council and Soilco have submitted odour study reports and recommendations to the EPA which are being reviewed by EPA air quality experts. The EPA has requested clarification on aspects of Soilco’s report, which is due by the end of July 2021.    

The EPA is considering the odour report recommendations from both Council and Soilco and how they can be implemented to help resolve the odour issues.

Any business regulated by the EPA must ensure they have controls and practices in place to prevent offensive odours from impacting surrounding neighbours.

We are continuing to do regular odour surveys in the Kembla Grange and Farmborough Heights areas as complaints from the community about odours in the area are still being registered. The EPA looks into each complaint. Contact the 24/7 Environment Line on 131 555 to make a report.

The direction for Council and Soilco to do the comprehensive odour studies was required as a new licence condition by the EPA. The licenses can be found on the EPA  Public Register on our website.

Any business regulated by the EPA must ensure they have adequate controls and management practices in place to prevent offensive odours from impacting surrounding neighbours.

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.