Hallam Road landfill is operated by SUEZ Recycling and Recovery Pty Ltd (SUEZ). The landfill is located at 270-310 Hallam Road Hampton Park. It is one of the largest landfills in Victoria, serving several of Melbourne’s municipal councils. It has an operating licence (Suez Amalgamated Licence No. 74643) issued by the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) setting out the environmental outcomes it must meet. For more information on the operating licence, search our portal for the relevant document number '74643'.
The landfill accepts household and solid inert wastes, which are deposited in fully lined landfill cells that have been built into an old sand quarry. The landfill began accepting waste in 1997.
On 2 August 2019, EPA issued a works approval allowing Suez to construct new leachate ponds to the immediate south of the existing landfill site. The ponds will store and manage leachate collected within the adjacent landfill. The works will not increase the amount of leachate. The approval does not extend the life of the landfill. The approval allows the existing leachate to be treated and removed faster from the Hallam Road Landfill.
EPA has assessed the new leachate ponds as being situated as far away as possible from existing residential areas nearby. The new pond aeration method, a mixing through of air, intends to reduce the risk of odour caused by leachate off-site.
Suez can commence construction of the new ponds once planning approval is received from the City of Casey. For more information, see Engage Vic.
What is the problem around the Hallam Road landfill?
Some residents in Hampton Park, Lynbrook, Lyndhurst, Cranbourne, Cranbourne North and Narre Warren South area have been reporting strong odours around the landfill for several years.
EPA has received an increase in odour reports in 2019. EPA has been investigating the cause of increased odour pollution reports received from the community surrounding the SUEZ Hallam road landfill.
EPA understands from these investigations that the source of the current odours being reported by local residents is landfill gas.
EPA has identified issues with Suez’s management of landfill gas. Suez was issued with a Pollution Abatement Notice on 17 July 2019 (90010233) to complete works on site. This included the installation of new landfill gas infrastructure. There could be a temporary increase in odour while Suez undertakes these works. Once completed, the odour should reduce (EPA has required the works to be completed by 16 August 2019).
Landfill gas odours
Landfill gas is a mixture of gases produced as waste decays within landfills. This is a process known as methanogenesis.
There can be more than 500 types of gas produced by landfills, but the mixture is mostly methane and carbon dioxide which are both odourless. Other gases present can include a range of sulphide gases. These gases create the rotten rubbish smell of landfill gas.
Spread of odour due to weather
Pollutants such as odour build up and accumulate during stable atmospheric conditions. Examples of stable atmospheric conditions are windless days and nights in autumn and winter. The spread of landfill odours can also be affected by the direction and speed of wind. It is helpful to note whether there is any wind, and its direction and speed when making odour reports to EPA. This will be factored into EPA’s assessment.
Are these odours harmful to human health?
EPA has commissioned three literature reviews, in 2013, 2016 and 2018, to determine whether there were any reported links between odorous air emissions and the health of residents living near putrescible (non-hazardous waste) landfills, such as Hallam Road landfill. The 2018 review includes data specific to the Hallam Road landfill, providing insight on the nature of the gases produced by this landfill.
The reviews confirmed that the available data and published studies shows living near a putrescible waste landfill is not associated with adverse health effects. However, it is acknowledged that a number of gases and VOCs (individually or as a mixture) released from these landfills may be odorous and may affect the well-being of the local community.
How has EPA investigated the problem?
EPA carefully monitors community odour reports and we have responded to them in a number of ways, including:
EPA has conducted odour surveillance monitoring in June 2019 in response to the increased number of reports, as follows:
EPA Officers undertook odour surveillance on the evening of Tuesday 25 June 2019. Officers confirmed odours consistent with landfill gas in particular areas of Cranbourne North and Lynbrook.
EPA Officers also undertook odour surveillance on Wednesday 26 June and noted landfill gas odours in the Hampton Park area.
EPA conducts odour surveillance as, for EPA to take action on offensive odour, it must be verified and sourced by an Environment Protection Officer who is accredited to assess odour and take statements from the person(s) who has reported the pollution.
In July 2019, EPA undertook a detailed site inspection of the landfill, which involved our landfill experts. Our focus was on determining whether Suez is acting in compliance with their EPA licence as well as locating potential odour sources at the landfill.
What action has EPA taken?
EPA has conducted regular compliance inspections of the SUEZ Hallam Road Landfill to ensure the operator is meeting the terms of its EPA licence.
As a result of the detailed inspection in July 2019, EPA identified on site issues and have subsequently issued SUEZ with a Pollution Abatement Notice on 17 July 2019 (90010233) to complete works on site, including the installation of new landfill gas infrastructure.
We have also investigated reports of litter from the landfill.
Recent fines issued to SUEZ for the Hallam Road landfill include:
$8000 Infringement issued October 2018 for litter offsite in October (breach of licence)
$8000 Infringement issued April 2018 for litter offsite in March 2018 (breach of licence)
$8000 Infringement issued September 2017 for uncovered waste at the site (in July 2017) - (breach of licence)
How you can help
EPA will continue to investigate odour in the Hampton Park, Lynbrook, Lyndhurst, Cranbourne, Cranbourne North and Narre Warren South 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.
SUEZ 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.