ADDRESSING DUST AND ODOUR IN THE BROOKLYN INDUSTRIAL PRECINCT
The impacts of dust, odour and noise from the Brooklyn Industrial Precinct on the surrounding communities have been a priority focus for EPA since 2008 and strong early gains were made. In September 2013, EPA focused on two priorities: long-term control of dust generated from unsealed roads and verges; and minimising Brooklyn Industrial Precinct’s environmental impact.
In 2013 –14, EPA have undertaken 59 site inspections of 30 notices issued to duty holders in the Brooklyn Industrial Precinct. Three sites are currently under investigation for non-compliance with their notice requirements.
EPA has maintained strong links with the community through the Brooklyn Community Representative Group, comprising community government and industry delegates, as well as through and local community groups such as Brooklyn Residents Action Group and Yarraville on the Nose.
Odour reports in the Brooklyn area for the 2013 – 2014 financial year are the lowest since the start of the project and notably the lowest since official recording of odour reports in the Brooklyn precinct since electronic record-keeping commenced in 1996. Our social research data tells us that 40 per cent of Brooklyn residents living less than 500 metres from a known pollution source felt that the odour in their area had improved over the last 12 months, indicating that initiatives in the area are having an impact.
While odour management is improving, particle pollution levels in Brooklyn continue to be high. The source of this pollution is airborne dust generated at industrial sites and roads in the area. Dust levels are higher in dry weather with northerly winds and Bunting and Jones Road were identified as the highest single contributors to dust in the area. Sealing these roads will make a substantial difference to the dust levels and air quality in Brooklyn. In July 2013, the Victorian Coalition Government has made a Sustainability Fund contribution of $900,000 to Brimbank City Council to support sealing and other improvement works to Brooklyn’s dustiest roads.
Dust levels are measured by PM10 levels –particles with a diameter of 10 micrometres or less. There were 29 days where PM10 measurements exceeded standards in the Brooklyn Industrial Precinct during 2013 –14.
MANAGING ODOUR IN KILLARA
Killara residents have been reporting offensive odours for a number of years and EPA has been working closely with City of Wodonga, North East Water and the community to fix this problem.
In 2013 –14, EPA focused on resolving longstanding issues identified at the Greenchip Recycling premises. This included the issuing of three pollution abatement notices to Greenchip Recycling to monitor and manage issues relating to liquid waste.
As a result of EPA’s notices, Greenchip Recycling has built a liquid waste dewatering facility that will improve the site’s environmental performance. EPA is in the process of overseeing the commissioning and licensing this new facility to ensure that it is functioning appropriately prior to use. EPA officers have conducted 12 compliance inspections of Greenchip Recycling and have observed significant improvements to their onsite practices which will reduce their environmental and amenity impacts.
EPA officers also conducted eight odour surveillance inspections around the Baranduda, Bandiana and Killara communities to monitor the performance of premises that have the potential to generate odours. As a result, EPA has identified a number of premises which have the potential to cause odour impacts that EPA will focus on in 2014 –15.
CLAYTON AND DINGLEY ODOUR
Clarinda, Clayton and Dingley have a number of EPA-licensed landfills and green waste facilities located close to residential areas. Odour impacts on the local community from these facilities became an issue in 2010 –11 as a result of extensive rain. Since then, EPA has been working to ensure industries comply with legislation to improve their performance and reduce odour impacts on communities.
Over the 2013 –14 period, weather conditions contributed to the odour issue and led to increased community reports in May and June 2014. Rain reduced the effectiveness of gas extraction systems, which led to odour impacts. Still days followed by cold nights trapped landfill gas close to the ground allowing it to accumulate and migrate into neighbouring areas. There is no short-term solution to the issue as the cause of the odour is complex. Compliance inspections and regular meetings with the landfill operators have maintained the pressure to meet their environmental obligations. EPA is managing the issue through compliance and enforcement tools and during 2013 –14 EPA monitored the Pollution Abatement Notices (PANs) already in place and issued new PANs when required.
The operators now engage with the Clayton and Dingley Community on a quarterly basis to keep them informed of the issues and progress in the area.
NORTH-WEST INTENSIVE ANIMAL INDUSTRY (POULTRY)
In February the EPA investigated the environmental impacts related to intensive poultry farming which was triggered by ongoing reports of offensive odour made by communities in the region. EPA officers inspected 13 poultry farms, which led to a better understanding of the poultry industry. EPA has drawn on this understanding to provide a series of recommendations for the future management of the poultry industry and the intensive animal industry generally. During the investigation, EPA issued six remedial notices to producers to address offsite odour issues and chicken carcass stockpiles. The producers have met their notice requirements and these notices have now been revoked.
In addition, due to a large number of community reports, one large poultry site was selected and investigated as to how the chicken growing cycle affected odour emitted from the premises. This led to further site-specific and general recommendations.
NORTH GEELONG AND PORT CAMPBELL NOISE
High noise levels from industry in the North Geelong region and from gas plants in the Port Campbell region remain a priority in EPA’s South-West region.
Test results in North Geelong were inconclusive about the extent of contribution of individual sites and local traffic and EPA engaged a third party to establish the objective noise level required. During this time EPA officers also conducted noise surveillance at night. While community reports have decreased, a door-knocking survey undertaken by EPA revealed a number of community members who reported being impacted by noise and wanted to remain involved and informed.
Meanwhile, in Port Campbell noise levels have been recorded above the design levels of the operating gas plants. However, the monitoring at residential locations was not able to determine which of the potential sources was contributing to this. Origin Energy was issued with a notice requiring it to develop a better monitoring program to demonstrate its stated compliance with noise requirements. Origin has taken action to improve its monitoring ability and has engaged with the community to better understand the problem. EPA is currently assessing the noise monitoring proposal and results and will consequently determine next steps.
DAIRY PROCESSING AND WATER QUALITY IN GIPPSLAND
In 2013 –14, we continued our audit of dairy effluent impacts in the Tarwin, which included inspections of 19 high-risk dairy farms. Officers also assessed waste management practices while onsite. These visits significantly raised industry awareness of its environmental obligations. EPA continues to ensure compliance through strategic relationship management.
EPA also undertook 13 inspections at the Leongatha Industrial Estate as part of the South Gippsland Water Catchment Project. This project, partly funded by South Gippsland Water, commits EPA to inspections in the catchment which are aimed at protecting the quality of the drinking water supply. Due to the nature of industry in the catchment, these inspections are largely focused on the dairy industry.
EPA also carried out a project in the Trafalgar industrial estate. A major drain runs through the industrial estate and there were concerns that aging infrastructure and industry in the area were contributing to water pollution. An officer visited businesses in the area to advise them of their environmental obligations and to gather intelligence. EPA followed up with inspections of seven premises on the same estate a month later and issued two remedial notices. Businesses that EPA had informed about their environmental obligations were found to have improved their performance.