Since April 2020, EPA have received a large increase in odour pollution reports from the Reservoir community. The reports alleged the odour was being discharged from the Visy Paper plant in Reservoir. In May 2020, EPA officers investigated and detected an offensive odour in the adjacent residential area and traced it back to the Visy Paper premises.
As Victoria’s environmental regulator, EPA’s role at the Visy Paper site is to:
- Check and enforce compliance with the Environment Protection Act 2017
- Prevent and reduce risks to human health and the environment.
Any non-compliances and potential breaches of the law are considered against our Compliance and Enforcement Policy (Publication 1798).
The Visy Paper odour is likely to be a result of the presence of volatile fatty acids (VFA) and sulphides in the water used in the paper recycling process to separate the paper and cardboard material into strands of cellulose fibre.
In February 2021, after previous pollution reports and our investigations, we issued Visy Paper with a pollution abatement notice. This required that, Visy Paper:
- Install controls and modify existing controls by 30 August 2021 at the premises to minimise the emission of odours offensive into residential areas; and
- Provide EPA with a final report by 30 November 2021 that includes a detailed assessment of the remaining odour sources following the installation of controls, a field assessment of remaining odour impacts on surrounding residential receptors and proposed further controls or other mitigation measures.
After the notice compliance date of 30 August 2021, EPA continued to receive odour complaints from residents and when officers returned on 1 September, we found the company had not taken sufficient actions to comply. EPA has fined the company for non-compliance with the remedial notice.
EPA is working with the Visy Paper to design future communications and engagement with the affected community. We want to make sure that the company will provide you with relevant and timely information through appropriate channels.
Preventing and minimising any harm to the community from the site has been the most important focus of EPA’s regulation of this issue. We’re seeking a long-term solution to community concerns about odour from the Visy Paper site. People may react to odours in different ways. How we sense odour varies from person to person.
If odour makes you feel unwell, you can:
- call NURSE ON CALL on 1300 60 60 24
- visit a doctor
- visit Head to Health online to find digital mental health resources from trusted service providers including
- speak to someone at the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) on 131 450 and ask them to call EPA Victoria on 1300 372 842
- contact us through the National Relay Service if you have a hearing or speech impairment.
Reviewed 22 December 2021