Around the Grounds
Lead sampling in Port Kembla, odour management in the southern highlands and four major bushfire recovery clean up grants – we bring you news of initiatives and action from around our regions.
EPA operational officers test soil for lead and other contaminants on public sites at Port Kembla
Soil testing in Port Kembla extends data on lead levels
We have carried out soil testing over the past month in Port Kembla’s public spaces including parks, nature strips and community gardens, as part of our heavy metals testing program. EPA officers tested soil with a hand-held XRF device. We also collected soil samples for lab testing to help the community understand and manage the risk of exposure from heavy metals, including lead and cadmium.
Once the public space testing is finished, the results will be shared with the public and we will then offer to test the soil at private homes for interested Port Kembla residents. This free testing is likely to begin early next year. Find out more (web page community news).
Managing offensive landfill odours for the Bowral community
The EPA has been working closely with the Bowral community over the past months to investigate a number of different odours coming from the Bowral Waste Centre.
The most recent odour reports describe a smoky, burnt-tyre smell and the Centre has advised us that a low intensity fire within the body of the landfill is the likely a source of these recent odours.
The EPA has now required Bowral Waste Centre to appoint an independent expert to urgently develop a response plan to extinguish any fire and minimise odour impacts on the surrounding community. This expert is needed because landfill fires are complex and must be managed carefully so the problem is not exacerbated.
We are also requiring the Centre to keep the community informed while they are implementing their plan to put the fire out and we have installed air monitors in residential areas near the Centre to check air quality while the fire is investigated and extinguished. Real-time results of this monitoring are available on the Department of Planning, Industry & Environment’s Special Projects Air Monitoring website here.
Nearby residents initially complained to us about offensive 'rotten egg' odours from the landfill and our officers detected hydrogen sulphide from a large area of uncovered waste at the landfill. After a flare up following very wet weather, the EPA directed the landfill operator to take steps to rapidly rectify the issue, removing wet mulch to provide relief to neighbours.
We are continuing to closely monitor Bowral Waste Centre and are investigated new reports of odours in early December at the site. This has included deploying a drone with heat imaging capability to detect changes in the landfill temperature and assess its internal conditions. Offensive odours that affect the quality of life for neighbours of industrial operations is not acceptable.
We will also continue to keep our website updated under Odours from Bowral Waste https://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/news/news/2021/community-news-updates
$57 million awarded to help communities recover from bushfires
A total of $57 million for bushfire recovery has been awarded to public land managers over the past month to help manage with waste and environmental damage in the ongoing clean-up after the 2019-20 bushfires.
Many regional communities were ravaged by the 2019-20 bushfires and continue to require support to deal with their ongoing waste problems. These grants will create regional jobs, while providing a much-needed boost for our regional areas - many of which are still rebuilding after the bushfires.
The October announcement awarded $33 million to 15 local councils to help them collect, manage, and recycle 165,000 tonnes of green waste, as well as thousands of kilometres of burnt fencing waste as part of the NSW Government’s bushfire recovery assistance.
The November announcement awarded a further $24 million to the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Crown Lands, and 15 local councils to help them remove and deter illegal dumping of waste at more than 100 sites, as well as repair and future-proof council landfills.
The funding is part of the NSW Government’s $4.5 billion bushfire recovery investment, which is continuing to help local communities with clean-up, temporary accommodation, and industry support. The council landfills program funded by the NSW Government is ensuring councils are not financially disadvantaged by having accepted 2019-20 bushfire-generated waste at their landfills.