Opal Packaging, Matraville

An update on investigations into noise and odour complaints about Opal packaging at Matraville.

In 2021, we received an increased number of complaints about odour and noise originating from the Opal Paper Mill based at Matraville. Complaint numbers have reduced in 2022. During this time we have been working with Opal to ensure best practice odour control measures are implemented at their mill and continued inspections of the premises.

Opal has now developed an odour strategy to investigate the community’s concerns. The strategy includes the engagement of an independent odour consultant to assess offsite odours, identify potential onsite odour sources and sample odour sources from site exhausts. The report detailing the findings is being finalised and will be provided to the EPA for review. Some aspects of Opal’s strategy were delayed due to COVID-19 public health orders and safety restrictions. With restrictions easing Opal is continuing to work to their strategy where safe to do so.

Opal has advised that the odour, often described as ‘sour wet cardboard’, is a result of evaporation during the paper drying process. This will be assessed further during investigations by the odour consultant. Opal has also installed gas monitors to detect the discharge of excess biogas released from pressure valves associated with the secondary water treatment plant. Biogas discharge from pressure valves occurs occasionally as a safety measure and has been reported as smelling like sulfur or rotten eggs. The new gas monitors will trigger onsite measures designed to minimise the impact of biogas odours.

Noise, odour and other complaints relating to Opal packaging can be reported to Opal on 1800 072 734, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Reporting to the licence holder in the first instance is appropriate and will ensure the quickest response.

Noise investigations

We have received noise complaints from the community in Matraville and surrounding areas. The noise environment in the Port Botany area is complex and we are working with a number of stakeholders including Bayside and Randwick Councils and NSW Ports to identify noise sources in this area.

In 2021, the EPA commissioned Marshall Day Acoustics to undertake a noise monitoring program in the Port Botany precinct. The noise study was designed to identify noise sources that emit low frequency noise – often described by people as a ‘throbbing’ or ‘humming’ sound that can become more noticeable during the evening and at night – predominantly in and around the Botany industrial and transport areas (the port). The noise study included long and short-term noise measurements at six locations in the area surrounding the Botany industrial and transport area. These locations were Dent Street in Botany, Woonah Street in Little Bay, Anzac Parade in La Perouse, Brotherson House in Port Botany and two locations along Australia Avenue in Matraville.

This study confirmed that ship noise from the Ports is the main source of low frequency noise in the area. However, Opal was identified as a potential contributor to low frequency noise. Opal is continuing to investigate low frequency noise from its premises. The EPA has added conditions to Opal’s licence that require Opal to further assess the noise generated at the premises and to identify any potential annoying noise characteristics. These conditions can be viewed on Opal’s Environment Protection Licence on the EPA’s public register.

For a copy of the Marshall Day Acoustics report commissioned by the EPA, please contact info@epa.nsw.gov.au.

Noise relating to Port Botany can be reported to NSW Ports on 1300 922 524, at www.nswports.com.au or to your local council.

For other environmental concerns or complaints, contact the EPA Environment Line on 131 555 or at info@epa.nsw.gov.au.

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