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The Kealba landfill is operated by Barro Group Pty. Ltd. and has a suspended licensed to accept solid inert waste. Examples of types of waste in the landfill include concrete, bricks, dry timber, plasterboard, carpet, plastic, glass, metals, bitumen and shredded tyres.

Compliance and enforcement timeline

Timeline of Kealba landfill hotspot regulation and activities

 
  • 2019 activities

    November 2019

    • Landfill hotspots identified. EPA issued the first of five notices requiring Barro Group (the landfill operator) to:
      • investigate and deal with the hotspots 
      • monitor air quality
      • keep the local community informed.

    December 2019 

    • EPA commenced air quality monitoring and posted the results on EPA AirWatch. 
    • EPA issued a Clean Up Notice to require Barro Group to investigate and clean up the hotspots.  This also included doing air quality monitoring and community engagement.
  • 2020 activities

    January 2020

    • EPA issued an official warning for failing to immediately notify EPA of the hotspots within 24 hours.

    February 2020

    • Barro Group gave EPA the results of its investigations into hotspots and its proposed cleanup strategy. 

    March 2020

    • EPA reviewed Barro Group’s proposed cleanup strategy with a range of specialists including EPA’s internationally recognised landfill expert. EPA found that a further Clean Up Notice would be required to strictly regulate Barro Groups cleanup operations

    April 2020

    • EPA issued a Clean Up Notice requiring Barro Group to start the cleanup in line with its approved strategy, as well as continue air quality monitoring and community engagement.
    • EPA issued fine of approximately $8,000 for not applying daily cover on waste .

    July 2020

    • EPA carried out on-site volatile organic compound (VOC) monitoring. This involves hand-held monitoring devices and thermal imaging cameras to find sources of odour and hotspots.

    August 2020

    • EPA issued a new Clean Up Notice to continue regulation of the cleanup and to regulate a pilot trial by Barro Group that proposed to speed up remediation works through a temporary change to how they cover waste. 

    November 2020

    • After Barro Group’s pilot trial, EPA issued a new Clean Up Notice to regulate ongoing changes to the cleanup strategy. It required Barro Group to produce a plan to reduce odours over the 2020/2021 holiday period and do additional community engagement.

    December 2020

    • Barro Group announced it was voluntarily suspending any incoming waste at the landfill until the hotspots are resolved. EPA officers inspected the landfill on the final day of landfilling operations in 2020, and during the holiday period. 
    • EPA increased compliance and enforcement activities. This included ongoing fortnightly inspections and weekly odour surveys. This  was to make sure Barro Group took measures to contain odour and monitor for dust and noise.
  • 2021 activities

    March 2021

    • EPA issued Barro Group with an updated Clean Up Notice. The notice required Barro Group to:
      • extinguish hotspots 2, 3 and 4 by 31 May 2021
      • extinguish hotspot 1 by 31 July 2021
      • seek expert advice on how to finish their clean up sooner.
      • provide weekly updates to the community, including odour forecasts. 
    • Barro Group commenced the first online weekly community information session to comply with EPA’s requirement of additional community engagement.

    April 2021

    • Barro Group submitted a report detailing its investigation into alternative hotspot reduction methods. This was to work out if any alternative methods could be used to speed up the cleanup. The investigation found that foam injection may be a suitable method, however as this method had not been tested in landfill hotspot before. A pilot trial would confirm how effective it may be. Barro Group considered how long a trial would take and the estimated time until the cleanup would be complete. Barro Group proposed to continue the current cleanup strategy, with increased operating hours.

    May 2020

    • 20 May 2021 – EPA refused an application by Barro Group to amend its Clean Up Notice to extend the deadline for cleaning up the hotspots.
    • 31 May 2021 – Barro Group failed to fix Hotspots 2, 3, and 4  by the due date in its Clean Up Notice. EPA started an investigation into this non-compliance.

    June 2021

    • EPA served a notice on Barro Group, on 25 June 2021, asking it to explain why we shouldn’t suspend it’s licence for non-compliance and causing odour impacts locally.  

    July 2021

    • The Environment Protection Act 2017, took effect from 1 July. This gives EPA increased powers to prevent harm to  public health and the environment from pollution and waste.
    • EPA held an online community information session on 12 July, to discuss the report on the regulation of the landfill. 

    August 2021

    • EPA deployed 2 new air quality monitors on 6 August.    These are in Kealba and St Albans. The air quality monitors measure particles in the local air, and the results are posted online on Airwatch.
    • EPA issued Barro Group with an Improvement Notice on 26 August. This requires Barro Group to take additional reasonably practicable measures to control noise at the site by 6 October 2021. 

    September 2021

    • 13 September 2021 – EPA suspended Barro Group’s licence to operate the Kealba landfill. The suspension took effect immediately. It means that Barro Group can’t accept waste for landfill until EPA is satisfied that the operating licence should be re-instated. 
    • On the same day, EPA also issued an Environmental Action Notice. This requires Barro Group to continue its environmental monitoring, auditing, management, and rehabilitation obligations to prevent harm to human health and the environment from the landfill. The notice requires Barro Group to:
      • submit an annual performance statement for the 2020/21 financial year on 30 September 2021
      • update its Environmental Monitoring Program by 31 March 2022
      • report on compliance with the notice by 30 June 2022.

What caused the hot spots

The Kealba landfill hotspots are likely to be a result of oxygen entering the landfill and combusting with old, decomposing waste. Four hotspots have been identified at the landfill, located deep within landfill cells. Two pathways are likely to have contributed to oxygen entering the landfill: the exposed, external side walls of the landfill; and the leachate drainage layer underneath the waste mass. Recent hotspot remediation works identified that oxygen likely entered cell 2 of the landfill through the leachate drainage network.

Regulatory action

On 13 September 2021, EPA suspended the Barro Group’s licence to operate the Kealba landfill. The suspension relates to breaches caused by ongoing hotspots and odour impacting nearby residents. The suspension follows a Notice on Intention to Suspend Permission issued in July, alleging it was in contravention of its operating licence due to the odour impacts of the hotspots. After careful consideration of the current situation and the duty holder’s response, EPA has now formed the view that Barro has significantly contravened its licence conditions. While Barro voluntarily ceased accepting waste at the site in December 2020, the suspension notice now enforces this action and opens up other avenues for regulation and sanction. Barro Group cannot start accepting waste until EPA is satisfied the contravention of its licence has been rectified. Given this suspension, EPA has also issued an Environmental Action Notice to ensure Barro Group continues to manage any risks from the landfill site.

On 26 August EPA issued Barro Group with a noise notice under the general environmental duty. The notice requires Barro Group to take practicable measures to prevent noise pollution. This includes reviewing and putting in place further controls to prevent or reduce noise from clean-up works near street level at the landfill. Barro Group has until October 6, 2021 to comply with this notice.

EPA has issued Barro Group with an official warning, for failing to immediately notify EPA of the hotspots, and an infringement notice for failing to meet a site licence condition to apply daily cover to waste.

EPA has issued five legal notices to require and regulate the progressive investigation, remediation, air monitoring and community engagement associated with this issue. Our current clean up notice remains in force and we continue to regulate this site and issue strongly with regular proactive compliance inspections, odour surveys, and enforcement where needed.

EPA is currently investigating action against the company in accordance with our Compliance and Enforcement Policy for not meeting the initial 31 May 2021 deadline. This includes assessing additional information that was submitted by Barro Group on 21 and 31 May 2021.

Environment Protection Authority Victoria's regulation of Kealba landfill (publication 1985) is a more detailed report on our regulation of the landfill, from initial approval and licensing, and the current hotspots issue.

EPA is now regulating the Kealba landfill under the new laws set out in the Environment Protection Act 2017. The new legislation provides EPA with a range of enhanced powers and regulatory tools.

EPA continues to check and enforce the current clean up notice and expects that Barro Group will continue its work to extinguish the hotspots as quickly and safely as it can in accordance with this. Barro stopped accepting waste at the site in December 2020 and made some changes to the cooling method used to try and speed up the process.

Barro and their technical specialist consultants believe the remaining hotspots may have grown and recently estimated the remediation works could still take up until May 2022 to be extinguished. EPA refused Barro’s request for this extension on 20 May 2021.

Barro is undertaking another significant round of drilling works. It will ensure they understand the extent of the largest remaining hotspot and the best mix of available options to use. It will also help them to estimate how long the clean-up will take to complete and whether alternative methods, such as foam injection, can be trialled.

EPA continues to work closely with interagency partners at Fire Rescue Victoria, WorkSafe, and Brimbank City Council. EPA also considers independent advice on additional measures that can be taken to extinguish the hotspots faster and to minimise odours during the process.

We are continuing to regulate this site strongly with regular proactive compliance inspections and odour surveys.

Health information

Preventing and minimising any harm to community health from these hotspots has been the most important focus of EPA’s regulation of this issue.  While air quality monitoring by both EPA and Barro since December 2019 has found no issues of concern for long term community health, the odour from the site can be offensive.

EPA’s review of air quality, odour monitoring and pollution reports indicate it is contributing to community distress, predominantly at Kealba and St Albans. Our noses are sensitive and often pick up odour long before there is any health risk. In most cases, odours from landfill hotspot don’t impact long-term community health.

If you feel unwell or distressed:

Information for local doctors

EPA recognises how important local doctors are in providing care for local residents who may have health concerns.

We have provided local general practitioners (GPs) with health information for Kealba odour issues. We have also provided GPs with details on, community concerns and where they can get more information.

Air quality

Air quality monitoring by both EPA and the landfill operator has found low risk for long-term community health. EPA expects this to continue but still requires the company to continue its air monitoring at the site.

EPA has heard community concerns in relation to air quality monitoring associated with the Kealba landfill. EPA has deployed two new air monitors in Kealba and St Albans. These monitors provide local residents with hourly data for particulate matter around the Kealba landfill site. The safety and wellbeing of local residents is a priority for EPA.

EPA's air quality information and easier access to health messaging is available on EPA AirWatch.

Results of air quality monitoring by the operator will continue and results can be found at the Sunshine Landfill website

Community engagement

EPA is working with the community to design future forums and ongoing engagement. We want to make sure that we provide you with relevant information through appropriate channels.

Barro Group continue to hold their regular online community information sessions. You can get more information on their Sunshine Landfill website.

EPA will not be attending Barro's information sessions while current legal processes are underway.

Find out about staying up to date with what's happening.

What to do if you experience odour

You can report excessive odour to our 24-hour hotline – 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC). 

We have published an odour diary (F1019) that you can use to record your observations of odour. Please send updates at least weekly to contact@epa.vic.gov.au.

If you feel unwell or distressed:

Further information

General

  • What is in the Kealba landfill?

    Barro Group (Barro) held an EPA licence (currently suspended) to operate the landfill which allows them to accept “solid inert waste”.  This type of waste typically arises from commercial, industrial, building and demolition activities.

    Examples of types of waste in the landfill include concrete, bricks, dry timber, plasterboard, carpet, plastic, glass, metals, bitumen and shredded tyres.

    Barro cannot regain its licence or start to accept waste until EPA is satisfied the breach of its licence has been fixed.

  • When will the landfill close?

    In April 2021 Barro advised residents that they intend to continue landfill activities at the site after the remediation of hotspots is completed. Based on the landfill’s current capacity and available airspace, Barro estimates a further ten years of landfilling could occur at the site.

    Barro estimates the closure date of the current landfill cells is June 2026 and would need to apply to EPA for any additional cells beyond that. This estimate is based on the historical rate that waste has been deposited at the landfill.

    EPA has suspended Barro’s licence to operate the Kealba landfill due to breaches caused by the long-running hotspots at the site and odour impacting nearby residents since November 2019. Barro cannot regain its licence or start to accept waste until EPA is satisfied that Barro’s breach of its licence has been fixed.

    EPA licences do not have an end date, however under the new laws commencing on 1 July 2021, licences will be reviewed every 5 years. As part of any review, EPA will need to be satisfied that the site no longer poses a risk to human health or the environment if it is to continue operating.

    From 1 July 2021 EPA will commence amending all operating licences to bring them in line with the new environmental protection framework. In consultation with duty holders, EPA will determine which conditions will be amended, added or revoked. This transitional review is expected within 2021.

    Barro Group’s response to current clean-up notice is a material factor that EPA will consider in relation to ongoing operations at the site.

  • How can I keep up to date about what's happening?

    EPA and Barro continue to provide information online and engage with local residents and our partners at Brimbank City Council.

    You can find out the latest information in a range of ways that best suits you:

    • Community forum
      • Barro Group is holding online community information sessions every second Wednesday at 8 pm. Details and recordings can be found on their website below
    • Website
      • Visit the Sunshine Landfill website for the latest updates of the site, remediation timeline, air quality monitoring results and recordings of community information sessions
      • Visit this page for the latest information on our regulation of the issue and health information

Regulation

  • Why did EPA approve the landfill in the first place?

    EPA approved the works approval in 2002 and the licence in 2013 by determining that the site and landfill met the relevant conditions, laws, regulations and State Environment Protection Policy (Siting and Management of Landfills Receiving Municipal Wastes) in force at the time. This included considering the outcomes of legal appeals to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) and the Supreme Court, which upheld the site’s original planning permit and allowed filling of the quarry hole with solid inert waste.

    EPA’s works approval assessment approval process included public advertisement and referrals to Brimbank City Council, Department of Human Services, Western Regional Waste Management Group, Melbourne Water, Department of Primary Industries and Southern Rural Water. This included advice from Brimbank City Council that the site held a planning permit that permitted filling of the quarry hole with solid inert waste.

    In 2009 when EPA received a licence application for the site we sought assurance from local council as the relevant authority that the site held the appropriate planning permits. Legal challenges then took place on whether the site’s permit (original or existing) did or did not allow deposit of waste to landfill. The site’s original planning permit was upheld, and EPA considered this as part of the licence assessment.

    Further information can be found in the EPA report on the regulation of Kealba landfill (publication 1985).

  • What are the current notices on the landfill?

    EPA has four key regulatory notices in place on the landfill.

    1. Notice of licence suspension for the breach of conditions to ensure no burning waste or offensive offsite odours from the site.
    2. Environment Action Notice to require ongoing risks from the site continue to be monitored, prevented and managed.
    3. Improvement Notice to require all practicable measures to prevent and manage noise.
    4. Clean Up Notice requiring the hotspots to be remediated with auditor-verification, and air monitoring and community engagement is undertaken.

    The latest Clean Up Notice about the hotspots is the fifth one EPA has issued on this matter and required the landfill operator to complete removal of three of the hotspots by the end of May 2021, and the final remaining hotspot by the end of July 2021.

    Barro Group has now failed to meet the two-staged deadlines of 31 May and 31 July 2021 after EPA refused its application for an extension on 20 May 2021. Barro is seeking judicial review in the Supreme Court of EPA’s decision to refuse this extension. A future hearing is set for August 2022. EPA is progressing action against Barro for the missed deadlines in accordance with EPA’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy.

  • What does the EPA’s notice regarding noise mean for Barro Group?

    The notice requires Barro Group to comply with a new environmental law, the General Environmental Duty, that requires all duty holders to take practicable measures to prevent noise pollution. Under this notice, Barro Group must review and put in place further controls to prevent or reduce noise from clean-up works near street level at the landfill. Barro Group has until October 6, 2021 to comply.

  • When will EPA sanction the Barro Group for non-compliance?

    EPA has suspended Barro’s licence to operate the Kealba landfill due to breaches caused by the long-running hotspots at the site and odour impacting nearby residents since November 2019.

    EPA is also progressing with sanctions against Barro after it failed to meet the required 31 May 2021 deadline for cleaning up several hotspots at the site.

    Further information on EPA’s past compliance and enforcement decisions can be found in the EPA report on the regulation of Kealba landfill.

     
  • Has EPA previously sanctioned Barro?

    EPA has issued Barro Group with an official warning, for failing to immediately notify EPA of the hotspots, and an infringement notice for failing to meet a site licence condition to apply daily cover to waste.

    Prior to failing to notify EPA of the hotspots, Barro had met requirements of its operating licence including providing Annual Performance Statements and undertaking environmental audits of the site.

    Barro received two EPA infringement notices in 2017 for activities relating to the stockpiling of tyres at its Brooklyn premises trading as ‘Tyre-Lug Services’.

  • Where can I see the findings of environmental audits of the site?

    Environmental audits for any site are publicly available. Environmental audits of the landfill’s operations are carried out by an independent EPA-appointed environmental auditor, with a current audit period of two years.  So far, two environmental audits of the landfill’s operations have been completed, with reports submitted in March 2018, and May 2020.

    The next operational audit of the landfill is scheduled for completion on 30 March 2022.

    EPA’s Clean Up Notice also requires an independent Auditor to verify the hotspots have been fully extinguished at the completion of remediation.

  • Will EPA review Barro’s licence and the type of waste they can and can’t accept?

    From 1 July 2021, EPA will regulate the landfill under the Environment Protection Act 2017. The site’s operating licence will automatically transfer over to become an operating licence under the new framework.

    From 1 July 2021 EPA will commence amending all operating licences to bring them in line with the new environmental protection framework. In consultation with duty holders, EPA will determine which conditions will be amended, added or revoked. This transitional review is expected within 2021.

    Barro Group’s response to the current licence suspension and clean-up notice is a material factor that EPA will consider in this process.

  • What will change under the new Environment Protection Act?

    From 1 July 2021, EPA will regulate the Kealba landfill under the Environment Protection Act 2017 (the Act).

    From 1 July 2021 EPA will start amending all operating licences to bring them in line with the new environmental protection framework. In consultation with duty holders, EPA will determine which conditions will be amended, added or revoked.

    The general environment duty (GED) is a cornerstone of the new legislation. This duty will focus Victorian business, industry and the community on preventing harm and will require people to undertake reasonably practicable steps to eliminate, or otherwise reduce risks of harm to human health and the environment from pollution and waste.

    The GED provides a significant shift in the way air quality is managed in Victoria by requiring duty holders to take proactive steps to assess risks posed by the emissions from their operations and implement actions to minimise those risks.

    The Act also provides EPA with a range of enhanced powers and regulatory tools including:

    • enhanced investigation and surveillance powers for EPA authorised officers
    • higher penalties for pollution and waste offences
    • new waste duties that require appropriate management, records and tracking, to ensure better tracking of waste, and prevent unauthorised wastes being disposed to landfill
    • stronger requirements around those who can hold a permission, including a ‘fit and proper person’ test
    • new regulatory notices which can require a site to cease specific activities including:
      • Prohibition notices which can prohibit a person from engaging in an activity
      • Improvement notices which allow EPA to require a duty holder to take action to remedy a contravention
      • Non disturbance notices which enable EPA to stop certain activities at a site
      • Environmental action notices which enable EPA to require a duty holder to undertake certain activities like community engagement or environmental monitoring for community health.
  • What are the next steps for EPA?

    EPA continues to regulate this site strongly with regular proactive compliance inspections, odour surveys, community engagement and enforcement where needed. We are currently working with interagency partners at Fire Rescue Victoria, WorkSafe, and Brimbank City Council to make sure remaining works and remediation is achieved as quickly and safely as possible.

    EPA will continue to monitor air quality in the area over the coming months to provide updated information and confidence in health messaging for community.

    Alongside checking and enforcing compliance against the active regulatory notices  on the site, EPA will continue to work through current legal processes underway regarding EPA’s past decision to refuse an extension and Barro’s missed deadlines. We will advise community when key decisions or next steps are understood through this.

  • Why has EPA now suspended Barro’s licence to operate the Kealba landfill?

     EPA has suspended the Barro Group’s licence to operate the Kealba landfill due to breaches caused by the long-running hotspots issue at the site and odour impacting nearby residents since November 2019.

    A Notice on Intention to Suspend Permission was issued to the Barro Group in July, alleging it breached its operating licence due to hotspots at the landfill causing odour impacts on local residents.

    After careful consideration and taking into account the duty holder’s response, EPA has now formed the view that Barro has significantly breached its licence conditions.

  • Barro stopped accepting waste in December 2020. What does suspending the licence actually achieve?

    While Barro voluntarily stopped accepting waste at the site in December 2020, the suspension notice now enforces this action and opens up other avenues for regulation and sanction. Barro cannot start to accept waste until EPA is satisfied that its breach of its licence has been fixed.

    This suspension will be considered in any future review of the continuation of the licence.

  • What does this mean for the clean-up?

    Barro Group continues to be responsible for the clean-up and the financial costs. EPA will continue to regulate until Barro fully extinguishes all hotspots.
  • Barro has now missed both of the clean-up deadlines. When can the residents expect the hotspots will be out?

    The health and well-being of the residents living near the landfill is our first priority and we will continue to regulate this site until it is fixed. We will continue to use whatever powers we have to make sure the hotspots are extinguished as quickly and safely as possible.

    Barro is undertaking another significant round of drilling works to ensure it understands the current extent of the largest remaining hotspot and can use the best mix of options available. This will help to work out estimates of how long it will take to complete the clean-up and whether any alternative methods such as foam injection can be trialled.

Hot spots

  • What is a hotspot?

    EPA’s landfill licensing guideline defines hotspots as "an area of waste below the landfill surface with elevated temperatures accompanied by the evolution of heated gaseous products of thermal degradation, thermal oxidation or combustion, and the emission of visible and invisible radiation.”

    Hotspots are not landfill fires, which occur on the surface of waste and combust rapidly, producing intense heat and emitting gases.

    Hotspots occurring less than five metres from the landfill surface are defined as shallow and are more likely to occur in uncapped operational areas or waste flanks (edges) of landfills, in waste that is less than two years old, or waste that may still be in the aerobic phase of degradation when higher temperatures commonly occur.

    Shallow hotspots are more likely to occur when air enters exposed edges of the landfill or areas with thin cover due to wind. This is the likely cause of most landfill hotspots in Victoria, including those in the Kealba landfill.

  • What caused the hotspots in the first place?

    The Kealba landfill hotspots are likely to be a result of oxygen entering the landfill and combusting with old, decomposing waste.

    Two pathways are likely to have contributed to oxygen entering the landfill: the exposed, external side walls of the landfill; and the leachate drainage layer underneath the waste mass.

    Hotspot remediation works have recently exposed the leachate drainage layer of Cell 2 in the landfill. Barro has informed EPA that no leachate was found saturating this drainage layer. The presence of burnt waste immediately above this drainage layer indicates that oxygen may have entered through the leachate drainage network, and fuelled hotspot growth.

  • What are you doing to speed up the removal of the hotspots?

    EPA is working with interagency partners at Fire Rescue Victoria, WorkSafe, and Brimbank City Council to consider any independent experts, both nationally and globally, to provide advice on any additional measures that can be taken to extinguish the hotspots at the landfill faster and minimise odours during the process.

    EPA also required Barro to review its remediation strategy under the current notice to try to speed up the process of extinguishing the hotspots.

    For example, from 27 August to 30 September 2020, EPA permitted Barro to trial leaving excavated waste uncovered overnight to cool more quickly, while monitoring odour impacts. The results of the trial showed that progress to remove hotspots was twice as fast with the new technique.

    In October 2020, EPA approved the continuation of this approach under a regulatory notice. This decision was made following discussions with some of the most affected residents who experience odour and provide pollution reports to EPA. Many of these people told EPA they would prefer an earlier completion time, despite the increase in odour.

  • How will EPA make sure there are no more hotspots?

    When these hotspots are extinguished, EPA will ensure all information on the cause, spread and management of the hotspots is reviewed by an independent auditor through the required operational audits. This will ensure any ongoing design, operation and post-closure management actions are taken at the landfill to prevent hotspots occurring again. 

    From 1 July 2021, EPA will have greater regulatory tools and more powers to support and require all practicable measures are taken to prevent environmental and human health risks or impacts from landfill sites.

    EPA also requires that ongoing Landfill Operational Audits are performed by an EPA-appointed Environmental Auditor. These audits currently involve monitoring of landfill operations over the course of a two year period, with an audit report submitted to EPA at the end of this audit period. These audits are a condition in the site’s operating licence. The objective of the site audit is to identify and, where possible, quantify the risk of harm or detriment to a segment of the environment caused by the landfill operation. Audit reports are provided reviewed by EPA and are also published on EPA’s website. EPA, and the Environmental Auditor routinely review the frequency that Landfill Operational Audit reports are required. This based on risks posed by a landfill’s operations.

Air quality and health

  • What is the impact on my health and the health of my family?

    Preventing and minimising the harm to community health from these hotspots has been the most important focus of EPA’s regulation of this issue.

    Air quality monitoring by both EPA and Barro since the second of December 2019 has found no issues of concern for long term community health.

    However the odour from the site can be offensive, and EPA’s review of air quality, odour monitoring and pollution reports indicate it is contributing to community distress, predominantly at Kealba and St Albans. EPA has heard from some local community members who have reported symptoms such as:

    • sore throats
    • headaches
    • nausea
    • stinging eyes
    • triggering of asthma symptoms
    • for some, significant impacts to wellbeing, mental health and quality of life.

    Further information on potential health impacts, a summary of the evidence and monitoring results, and explanation of the low risk posed to long-term community health is detailed in EPA’s information sheet, Health information for Kealba odour issues. This fact sheet has been distributed to local GPs to help address residents’ concerns about potential health impacts.

    If you feel unwell or distressed help and support is available

    • call NURSE ON CALL on 1300 60 60 24
    • visit a doctor
  • Are there long-term health impacts from odour?

    The likelihood of long-term physiological effects from odour exposure is very low. This is because concentrations of likely harmful compounds (e.g. reduced sulphur, amines, ketones, aldehydes etc) are usually well below acceptable limits for human health and safety.

    However, odour can cause short-term physiological effects and psychological impacts related to amenity and personal wellbeing.

  • Why is the odour worse on some days rather than others?

    The strength and distance of odour impacts depends on weather conditions and the remediation works underway on the site at the time.

    Odour has been found to have a stronger intensity during cool, still mornings and evenings, and reduced intensity during warmer daytime periods. Excavation of older, hotter waste at different times of the remediation works has also increased the intensity and spread of odours from time to time.

    It has been found that the Kealba residential community located north of the landfill, and the St Albans residential community located south-west of the landfill are particularly impacted by odours due to prevailing winds. This is supported by EPA’s pollution report data and odour surveys in the field.

  • How are you monitoring the air quality in Kealba?

    EPA undertook air quality monitoring in the landfill area from 2 to 17 December 2019, after being notified of the hotspots. EPA has required Barro to undertake air monitoring since December 2019.

    EPA’s specialised monitoring equipment was deployed at two residential locations near the landfill that regularly report odour. The monitors measured the air to identify four key substances that could potentially be released into the air from the hotspots; carbon monoxide; sulfur dioxide, PM2.5 (fine particles) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a group of carbon-based chemicals that easily evaporate.  Monitoring results were reported in real-time on EPA AirWatch, and did not identify any levels that would affect human health.

    Under EPA’s regulatory notice, the air monitoring must:

    • be carried out at locations that are representative of air quality at the northern and western boundaries adjoining the nearest residential receptors
    • be carried out at a frequency not exceeding once every three days for the duration of waste hotspots being present at the landfill, and
    • results must be provided to EPA. 

    To meet EPA’s notice requirements, Barro engaged independent specialist consultants Golder Associates to develop and undertake an air monitoring plan. This was then approved by EPA. 

    Two air monitoring stations are positioned at the northern and western boundaries of the landfill. These are the areas located closest to neighbouring residential properties. This monitoring measures for PM2.5, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and VOCs. Data from the air monitors is then analysed by a nationally accredited testing laboratory. 

    Barro has published air monitoring reports to the Sunshine Landfill website and provided copies to EPA for review.

  • Why is EPA deploying new air monitors to the Kealba and St Albans community?

    EPA has heard community concerns in relation to air quality monitoring associated with Kealba landfill.

    Air quality monitoring by both EPA and the landfill operator has found low risks of concern for long-term community health. EPA expects this to continue but still requires the company to continue its air monitoring at the site.

    However, by deploying this additional air quality monitoring equipment it will help the community to understand and trust information on their local air quality. It will also help EPA in further understanding what impacts may be occurring in the community from Kealba or any other sources.

  • How long will the monitors be deployed?

    Air monitors will be deployed between August and November 2021.
  • What are they measuring?

    The two air monitors will continuously monitor for fine particles (PM2.5 and PM10). EPA will also conduct air sampling for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a group of carbon-based chemicals that easily evaporate.
  • How can I find out the results of the air monitoring?

    EPA’s air quality information from the two new monitors will be available on EPA AirWatch (appropriate link to be added when available)

    Results of air quality monitoring by the duty holder, Barro Group, will continue and results can be found at the Sunshine Landfill website.
  • Will EPA keep the community up to date with the results of the air monitoring?

    Yes. EPA is committed to ongoing consultation with the community. The results will always be available on our website.

    We are also working with the community to design future engagement forums that allow you access to appropriate expertise and information. Where possible, this will include meeting with you face-to-face. To make sure that these sessions are inclusive, and meet your expectations, we're reaching out to community members and partner agencies over the next two weeks to form a working group.

Reviewed 29 September 2021