The EPA has installed odour detection monitors around Tumut and Gilmore to monitor odours. The readings from these monitors are reported in the charts on this page.
In late June 2023 the EPA received the first of a series of odour complaints for the Gilmore and Tumut areas where the community were describing the odours as smelling like a rotten egg/sulphur smell.
Since the receipt of the first complaint, our officers have conducted regular in person odour surveys at locations around the facility to determine intensity, persistence, and potential aggravating factors of the odour. Our investigation into the complaints found odours coming from Tumut Waste landfill, otherwise known as Bellettes Landfill in Gilmore.
Tumut Waste Pty Ltd hold an environment protection licence for waste disposal activities at Bellettes Landfill. The licence permits the disposal of waste tyres and non-putrescible waste at the site to an annual limit of 40,000 tonnes per year. The licence does not permit offensive odour to leave the premises.
We are currently working with the licensee to put measures in place to reduce the odour impacts on the community as a priority. This includes the issuing of a Clean Up Notice that requires the immediate covering of the waste cells. Works are also being undertaken to pump out and treat leachate from the cells and samples have been collected of the waste within the cells to help establish the cause of the odours.
We have also engaged with NSW Health, Snowy Valleys Council, Safe Work NSW, Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) and industry to further manage impacts across the community.
Our investigation into potential breaches of legislation and licence requirements is ongoing.
Installation of monitors
In response to community concerns, we installed electronic monitors in July 2023 to detect hydrogen sulfide gas (rotten egg gas) around the facility 24 hours a day. Information from the monitors, along with odour surveys by our officers and odour reports from the community, help us to monitor odour levels at the landfill facility.
How do the monitors work?
The monitors are small (about the size of a litre carton of milk) and automatic. They take an air sample every 10 minutes and analyse it for hydrogen sulfide.
They can detect levels as low as 3 parts of hydrogen sulfide per billion parts of air (ppb), and as high as 2000 ppb.
About half of people can smell hydrogen sulfide at a concentration of around 8 ppb, but some people can smell it at 0.5 ppb while others first smell it at 300 ppb.
The monitors are connected to the existing mobile phone network, and every 12 hours they transmit the data collected to us.
The readings will be updated twice a week.
These charts show the concentration detected in each 10-minute sample of air collected by the hydrogen sulphide monitors. If no H2S is detected, the chart will appear empty.
How to read the charts
The charts are interactive and best viewed in full screen mode. Select the menu in the top right-hand corner to enter full screen mode.
Display a smaller or larger date range on the graph by using the blue range selector directly underneath the chart, or by using the Zoom buttons in the top left-hand corner.
Hover over the graphs to view more information relating to the data, for example the exact time and date of the data point.
To exit full screen mode click escape or move to the top of the screen to display and select the X.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request historical air-monitoring data.
Do the odours cause health impacts?
(Information provided by NSW Health)
People can smell hydrogen sulphide at low levels. About half of people can smell hydrogen sulphide at a concentration of around 8 parts hydrogen sulphide per billion parts of air (ppb). There is variability in this however – some people can smell it at 0.5 ppb while others first smell it at 300 ppb.
Exposure to these low concentrations of hydrogen sulphide may cause irritation to the eyes, nose or throat, and difficulties in breathing in people with asthma. Repeated exposures at these levels can also understandably cause anxiety and distress and result in indirect symptoms such as headaches and nausea.
These effects are likely to be minor and temporary and should stop once the air quality improves.
Hydrogen sulphide once it enters the body does not accumulate as it is rapidly processed in the liver and excreted in the urine.
If residents are concerned about their symptoms or if symptoms persist once the odours have ceased, they should seek advice from their local General Practitioner.
People who work in some industries are at risk of exposure to higher levels of hydrogen sulphide than the general population.
Community reports can play an import role in our investigation of odours.
Important information on odours can be recorded using the odour log sheet (PDF 160KB).
If you are experiencing odour impacts please contact the 24-hour Environment Line on 131 555 or email email@example.com.