The EPA nose knows on odour issues
In Autumn, specific weather patterns, particularly in Sydney, often mean that smelly odours generated by industry are trapped close to ground and a lack of wind means that many communities suffer from these smells.
Odours tend to be trapped close to the ground in Autumn months
The EPA calls on extensive experience and expertise when responding to odour complaints and managing licensees’ compliance to direct odour control.
While several active interventions are underway to provide relief to a number of communities this Autumn one licensee in outer Sydney credits the EPA with saving his business by ordering an environmental management plan for odours.
Adam Plant is with the Regulatory Operations Metropolitan North team and has worked on several investigations
“Odours can really impact surrounding residents. A person’s experience with odours can be quite subjective and so it’s important to properly assess what is an acceptable level coming from a premises,” Adam said.
“Of course, a whole community response to a business or industrial activity is the strongest indicator that an odour problem needs investigating and to be managed.
“Sometimes, an odour issue can point to a serious threat to human health as well as the environment.”
Adam is currently monitoring Newcastle business and licensee Koppers which produces a range of chemicals and dangerous goods at its Mayfield facility.
“The nature of the products means that noxious odours are possible and harmful chemicals could be released if operations are not carefully managed by the business – and the site has been the subject of numerous odour complaints, regulatory action and remedial changes to the business over the past 20 years,” Adam said.
In working cooperatively with the EPA to reduce odour emissions, Koppers recently commissioned a $1.5 million thermal oxidation system, designed to further reduce odours and air emissions from its plant at Mayfield.
“Since the system was implemented, the EPA has received the fewest community odour complaints than in any of the previous 10 years,” Adam said.
Did you know that the EPA consults with experts in odour assessment?
Odour detection and assessment is an exact science. Odour specialists help us detect the type of odour, as well as its intensity and frequency. Our consultant specialists are highly qualified Chemical and Environmental Engineers who use dynamic olfactometry - an olfactometer is an instrument used to detect and measure odour dilution in conjunction with human subjects in laboratory settings. They also use calibration - tested and accurate human nose sensitivity to odour range, to source and measure odours, and recommend the most appropriate technology in cases where odour treatment is required.
View over Kembla Grange
Monitoring odours at Kembla Grange
We have placed new requirements on two separate facilities to conduct thorough assessments of their odour emissions in the Kembla Grange, Farmborough Heights area in the Illawarra. Details of these requirements may be found on the Public Register on our website..
The assessments were required to be carried out by a suitably qualified and experienced odour specialist and we are reviewing the outcomes and recommendations.
Bingo Eastern Creek actions to stop odours
Residents in the Minchinbury/Eastern Creek area of western Sydney should soon feel some relief from foul odours following significant changes required by the EPA at waste company Bingo’s Dial-a-Dump Eastern Creek landfill facility.
Following a spike in reports and complaints to our Environment Line in early April we launched a campaign to narrow down the source of foul odours and get the responsible business to take action to prevent them.
“We recognise this issue is impacting residents and we have responded as an absolute priority,” Executive Director Stephen Beaman said.
“We don’t want communities impacted by odours and unable to enjoy their homes and gardens.”
Bingo’s Environment Protection Licence has been changed to require immediate steps to prevent the odours. This includes applying 300 mm of clean soil across the entire landfill at all times, limiting wastes accepted at the landfill to waste that does not smell and reducing the area used for active landfill.
These actions will help hold in landfill gas (rotten egg smell) and reduce rain reaching the waste. The outcome should be reduced creation of odours and reduced future gas generation. Bingo is also installing a new system to collect and destroy odorous landfill gas.
“We will continue conducting daily odour patrols around the landfill and local community at various times to check these measures are being effective.”
Steve explained that during Autumn, a temperature inversion across the Sydney Basin can trap odours close to the ground. “The odours can travel long distances under light breezes before being diluted – and significant rainfall can also exacerbate odour issues.”
EPA helps farm address odour problem to thrive
A long-term EPA licensee producing farming compost in the Hawkesbury area has credited the EPA with ‘helping to save the business’ by jointly monitoring and managing an odour complaints process spanning several years.
“Even though the licensee undertook several pollution reduction programs to deal with the odour, public complaints were still numerous,” EPA Regulatory Operations Unit Head Trevor Wilson said.
“We determined the odours were in breach of the POEO Act and issued fines on more than one occasion.
“Ultimately, we required the business to enclose its operations inside a purpose-built facility and install an air extraction and treatment system to prevent offsite odour impact – and we have received no further complaints.
“This is a good outcome for the community and the future of that business.”
Tips - How to report and manage odours
- If you are being affected by foul odours please report them to our Environment Line and provide as much detail as possible.
- Our factsheet more information on reporting odours can help.
- Call our Environment Line on 131 555. We are working to keep the community updated via our website and social media channels.