Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has approved the extension of a trial that will save weeks, and possibly months, in the work to end problems with hotspots and the resulting odour at the Kealba landfill.
During the month-long trial, EPA permitted landfill operator Barro Group to speed up the cooling of excavated hotspot material by leaving it exposed to the air overnight.
Barro Group will now be permitted to continue with the trial method until 30 October 2020 under the regulation of EPA and continue air quality monitoring and community engagement as required by an EPA-issued Clean Up Notice (CUN).
“We’ve really listened to our community in managing this difficult issue, and it is clear that together we want this fixed as quickly and safely as possible”, said EPA Western Metropolitan Regional Manager, Stephen Lansdell.
The decision to extend the trial came after discussions with some of the most affected residents, most of whom told EPA that the much earlier completion time is preferable, despite the increased odour they had experienced during the trial period.
EPA’s analysis of the odour monitoring and community reports suggest the increase in odour during the trial is also partly attributable to the fact that remediation works have progressed into deeper, older and hotter waste, which typically creates more odour.
The completion date still depends on how large and hot the waste hotspots are, but the process of digging up and cooling each hotspot will now take considerably less time.
EPA has been working hard to stay in tune with the community on this issue, and is continuing its strong regulation of the project through the legally enforceable requirements it has placed on the duty holder.
While odour is clearly still an issue affecting the wellbeing of local residents, air quality monitoring continues to show there are no issues of health concern.
EPA placed a mobile incident air quality monitoring unit near Kealba landfill during December 2019, until the landfill operator could meet the EPA requirement to install independent air quality monitoring and post the results online for the community.
You can find the air quality monitoring results on the landfill operator’s website, sunshinelandfill.com.au
The monitoring required under the EPA notice tests for a wider range of possible pollutants than the EPA mobile equipment, which was then made available for redeployment during bushfire season.
Throughout the trial, Barro Group has also undertaken extra monitoring at the site and is exploring any further onsite management measures available.
Work to rectify the hotspot problems has been proceeding under an EPA Clean Up Notice (CUN) that requires the landfill operator to ensure the fire and odour is addressed as quickly as possible.
The CUN also requires the operator to enact a plan to prevent future hostpots, prevent leakage from the landfill, conduct comprehensive air quality monitoring and keep the community informed of its remediation strategy and air quality monitoring results.
EPA has so far issued the duty holder with one Official Warning and one Infringement Notice – a fine of $8,261 – for breaches of its licence to operate the landfill.
During the trial, there were 56 reports of odour during September:
• 35 reports of odour during business hours on weekdays, which would not have been affected by the trial method overnight
• 10 reports on weekends, which would not have been affected by the trial method because waste wasn’t left exposed during the weekend
• 11 were after hours on weekdays, which would have been affected by the trial
The increase in odour during the trial is also partly attributable to the fact that remediation works have progressed into deeper, older and hotter waste, which typically creates more odour.