EPA Victoria advises offensive odours from wastewater treatment ponds at the Van Hessen Australia Pty Ltd factory in South Wangaratta could continue into the new year.

Two remedial notices and an official warning have been served, requiring the company to make immediate improvements to the wastewater treatment plant and produce an effective action plan to bring the odour under control as soon as possible. 

EPA is investigating breaches of the Environment Protection Act 2017 and will consider further remedial notices and enforcement action in line with its Compliance and Enforcement Policy.

The investigation began in November when EPA officers responded to reports from the public. They conducted odour surveillance around South Wangaratta and traced the smell to wastewater treatment ponds at the Van Hessen plant.

EPA acting Regional Manager for the Northeast, Ben Kneebone, says it is the company’s responsibility to fix the problems causing the odour. 

“Our officers obtained readings showing the presence of Hydrogen Sulphide (H2S) in the air at the wastewater treatment ponds, and while the readings were too low to indicate a health risk to nearby residents, the smell associated with the odour is unpleasant,” Mr Kneebone said.

“EPA will continue its odour surveillance and remedial action and is committed to ensuring Van Hessen takes all reasonably practical steps to minimise the odour as soon as possible,” Mr Kneebone said.

Members of the public can call EPA’s 24-hour pollution hotline on 1300 372 842, or make a report online at epa.vic.gov.au/report-pollution/reporting-pollution

Reviewed 19 December 2022