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What is the problem around Ravenhall?
Some residents in Ravenhall, Deer Park, Derrimut and Caroline Springs have been raising concerns since January 2014 about strong odours. Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has received more than 450 community odour pollution reports since January 2015.
How has EPA investigated the problem?
EPA monitors community odour reports and we have responded to them in a number of ways, including:
- pollution report responses
- odour surveillance operations
- compliance inspections
- rapid odour response programs.
We have conducted three series of odour surveillance monitoring, in February–March 2014, February–April 2015 and January 2016. In total we have made 760 odour checks during these programs.
While there have been many public reports of odour pollution, our observations have rarely found landfill odours in residential areas.
We have also investigated reports of dust, litter and mud from the Ravenhall landfill.
What action has EPA taken?
EPA has conducted regular compliance inspections on the Melbourne Regional Landfill at Ravenhall to ensure the operator is meeting the terms of its licence. We have also put in place a rapid odour response program, with officers on standby to carry out rapid response monitoring in July 2015 and February 2016.
We have issued pollution abatement notices to Pinegro Products (which was located close to the landfill) and Boral (the former owner of the landfill) related to odour and landfill gas emissions. Pinegro has since relocated from the Ravenhall/Deer Park area and Transpacific Cleanaway (now Cleanaway) has upgraded and replaced landfill gas extraction equipment, which has greatly reduced odorous emissions.
We issued Boral a penalty infringement notice in November 2014 for offsite litter and Transpacific Cleanaway an official warning in May 2016 for failing to meet incident reporting time frames.
What is EPA currently doing?
We are focusing on preventing problems by running compliance checks of the landfill’s operations and performance. This is backed up with assessments and responses to pollution reports we receive.
- We inspect the Ravenhall landfill at least every two months, with additional inspections as necessary.
- When in the area, our officers proactively conduct surveillance.
- To address the community’s concerns about odour from the landfill we activate our rapid response program if we experience a spike in reports.
The rapid response program allows our officers to get to the site of a report within 10 minutes, but we have not so far been able to confirm the presence of any offensive odours in residential areas.
We did detect strong odour once this year (in January) during routine surveillance, but there were no reports of offensive odour from residents. These would have allowed us to take enforcement action. It is important to note that our legislation allows us to act only when an odour is found in a sensitive area, such as a home or an open public space, and a reporter tells us they find it offensive.
What will EPA do in future?
Our assessments show that the landfill is generally well managed, but we will continue the activities outlined above to ensure it complies with EPA requirements.
How you can help
EPA will continue to investigate odour in the Caroline Springs, Deer Park and Derrimut areas.
We urge the community to report persistent, strong odour as soon as you experience it, by calling our 24-hour pollution hotline on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC). For EPA to have the best chance of tracking the odour to its source, it must be strong and persist for more than a few minutes. It is important that pollution reporters accurately describe the characteristics of the odour, as well as weather conditions – particularly wind strength and direction.
Cleanaway is the operator of the landfill, and has a 24/7 telephone hotline service for concerned residents. All calls are registered with an operator and followed up with a return call within 24 hours.