Incident Date
28 October 2022
Locations Affected
Suburbs: South Wangaratta, Wangaratta
EPA Region: North-East

This incident was last updated on 15 December 2023


EPA continues to investigate and monitor odour impacts in the South Wangaratta industrial area and has identified the source of the odours as being from a private wastewater treatment facility.  

About the incident

The dominant odour (described as rotting meat, rotten egg and putrid meat) is believed to be originating from Van Hessen Australia Pty Ltd’s private wastewater treatment system on their premises in South Wangaratta.  

The system is part of a multistage treatment process to manage organic waste from their production process.

The odour was allegedly caused by:

  • upset conditions in a wastewater treatment pond
  • processing of materials on site
  • desludging activities at the site.

Compliance and enforcement 

Our officers have inspected the site many times to hold Van Hessen to account for the conditions of their EPA licence.

We continue to provide specialist technical advice and monitor Van Hessen's actions to ensure they reduce the odour and manage their wastewater treatment system to minimise the risks to human health and the environment.

A court hearing was held in Wangaratta on 5 December 2023 in relation to breaches of Van Hessen’s licence conditions in late 2022. The company pleaded guilty and was ordered to contribute $75,000 towards an environmental improvement project in a South Wangaratta reserve suggested by EPA. The company was also required to contribute $30,000 to the Court Fund, cover EPA’s legal costs of $15,061 and put on a 18 month adjourned undertaking.

The Director of the company was also charged and pleaded guilty and was required to contribute $3,000 to the Court Fund, cover EPA’s legal costs of $4,754 and put on a 12 month adjourned undertaking. 

Notices issued to Van Hessen Australia Pty Ltd

  • 2 October 2023: EPA issued Van Hessen with two remedial notices.  These notices are in relation to the  desludging of their wastewater treatment ponds in October 2023 and in relation to the functionality and integrity of their ponds to ensure they are operating optimally.
  • 15 September 2023: EPA issued Van Hessen Australia with an Environment Action Notice requiring them to maintain oxygen levels in their aerobic wastewater treatment pond within specific parameters. This will assist in maintaining a stable condition of the ponds.   
  • 24 August 2023: EPA issued the company with four remedial notices. These notices require improvements to the processing and handling of material on their site.  These notices also require Van Hessen to install controls to minimise risk of odours from their production.
  • 16 February 2023: EPA issued the company with a Remedial Notice. It requires improvements to specific plant processes and systems in relation to odour controls.
  • 22 December 2022: EPA issued the company with a prohibition notice, which prevents the company adding additional wastewater to their treatment system. This notice was in place until they were able to consistently maintain adequate oxygen levels in their aerobic treatment pond.
  • 15 December 2022: EPA issued an official warning to Van Hessen Australia Pty Ltd for noncompliance with a notice.
  • 9 December 2022: EPA directed the company to submit a management plan to EPA to reduce the organic waste sludge in their aerobic lagoon. This is to assist in the treatment process.
  • 5 December 2022: EPA directed the company to take immediate action to reduce odours escaping their property.

EPA will continue to monitor and inspect the site. We ensure all practical measures are taken to mitigate the generation of offensive odours are undertaken as soon as possible. 

Odour monitoring is ongoing

In recent months EPA has received an increase in odour pollution reports in the South Wangaratta area. 

As part of their maintenance and to improve the treatment efficiency of their wastewater treatment system Van Hessen Australia undertook some desludging activities in October 2023.  This is alleged to have caused odour impacts in the vicinity of the site. Van Hessen decided to cease their desludging activity earlier than anticipated on the 17 October 2023. 

EPA will be assessing Van Hessen Australia's actions against the requirements of our notices, and we remain committed to a long-term solution at the site.  EPA will continue to provide advice to the company to help minimise the impacts of any  activities at the site as much as possible.

Our officers continue to inspect the site to hold Van Hessen Australia Pty Ltd to account with the conditions of their EPA licence. 

Our ongoing surveillance and reports from the community assist us to determine if corrective actions are being effective. EPA will continue to monitor the facility and surrounding area and compel remedial action until we are confident Van Hessen Australia’s wastewater system is functioning predictably and consistently. 

Community information 

It is EPA’s practice to make the results of our investigations public as soon as possible. 

Please bookmark and return to this page to view the latest updates from EPA.  

Report odour

If you notice a strong odour in the area, please report it to us as soon as possible. You can:
Try to include as much information as possible, including: 

Reviewed 18 December 2023