Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) acknowledges that there is an ongoing issue for the community of Miners Rest regarding odour. To date there have been over 400 community reports of odour from the Miners Rest area.
In May 2019, EPA issued CVLX with a Pollution Abatement Notice, in response to ongoing reports of odour affecting nearby residential areas of Miners Rest.
The PAN followed one issued in October 2018 that required improved cleaning methods. The company complied with the requirements of that notice and it was subsequently revoked.
The second notice required that modelling be updated to use actual measured odour emission rates from this site, obtained during the commissioning period.
The new PAN required that by 17 June 2019, CVLX supply to EPA an updated odour impact assessment, adopting odour emissions rates based on odour samples collected in 2019.
CVLX has submitted the odour impact assessment as required by the PAN. EPA will be assessing for compliance with the notice requirement over the coming weeks and will revoke the notice as appropriate.
EPA is now assessing the draft odour management plan that was provided in response to the PAN. This was also a condition of the works approval. EPA will be meeting with CVLX once we have completed our review to discuss the preferred outcomes and the next steps.
CVLX are not currently operating under any restrictions and is not subject to any current remedial action (i.e. notices) from EPA however further notices may be issued in the future in line with the Compliance and Enforcement Policy.
Most commonly asked questions:
Are there any publicly available results for the odour monitoring that EPA has been doing?
- EPA has been conducting regular odour surveillance in the Miners Rest area during different weather and operating conditions. The assessment of odour is made by EPA staff. Officers undergo testing to ensure their assessment of odour is within normal range, and that they are neither too sensitive, or not sensitive enough. This enables EPA to rely on their observations in legal matters where needed.
- As part of their commissioning approval RLX were required to collect odour samples for analysis by an odour expert. The results of this analysis will be provided to EPA in April for review and comparison to the modelling that was conducted as part of the works approval. EPA cannot provide this data publicly as it belongs to CVLX, but will provide an updated EPA review of the information against the works approval assessment.
What is EPA doing in response to the reports of pollution?
- EPA are continuing to conduct odour surveillance in varied weather conditions. This provides evidence if required, to enact our compliance and enforcement policy.
- We have also engaged an independent consultant to review odour management practices at the site. His recommendations have been provided to CVLX who are now developing an odour management plan.
- We will continue to visit the site to assess practices and make recommendations and requirements for improvement if required.
- We have also had a waste water expert attend the site and review practices. The conclusion was that the wastewater treatment system was unlikely to be a significant contributor to off-site odour.
During the approval process, the planning panel recommended that EPA adopt an assessment criteria of one odour unit at the boundary. Why has odour been smelled offsite?
- Odour units are a scientific method of describing the concentration of an odour under laboratory conditions. 1 OU is a level at which 50% of people with an average sense of smell will be able to identify the presence of the odour when compared to zero air. Odour units are commonly used in the assessment of proposals, but do not apply with respect to compliance.
- Modelling of odour is based on fixed sources of odour. For example, exhaust stacks. For this reason, live animals are not able to be accurately assessed by modelling, as it is not possible to determine odour emission rates from animals with any accuracy.
- The reference to one odour unit is a modelling tool used in assessing a planned development. It is not a compliance tool so cannot be used to enforce compliance with a modelled outcome.
- For ongoing operations, EPA uses the offensiveness of the odour to inform actions. The offensiveness is assessed by EPA authorized officers, and informed and supported by community reports and descriptions.
Does EPA have an ability to close the saleyards based on community odour reports?
CVLX are currently operating within the remit of their planning permit issued by City of Ballarat. Saleyards do not require a licence from EPA under the Environment Protection (Scheduled Premises and Exemptions) Regulations. EPA does not have regulatory power to close the saleyards, however we do have power to require action to be taken to reduce odour emissions.
How does EPA investigate odour complaints?
- EPA prioritises its response to odour investigations according to the severity of the odour being reported, the likelihood of making a positive verification of the odour source, the number of reports received from sensitive land use areas, and the availability of EPA officers.
- The term 'sensitive land uses' encompasses land uses which require a particular focus on protecting the beneficial uses of the air environment relating to human health and wellbeing, local amenity and aesthetic enjoyment. These are typically residential locations.
- Odour being smelt in non-sensitive land use areas, such as roadways next to the premises or on the site itself, are not within the scope of EPA investigations.
We acknowledge that there are ongoing issues with offsite odour and will continue to work to find solutions for CVLX to implement for improvement.
- We encourage residents to continue reporting to EPA if they are impacted by odour by calling 1300 372 842. This helps us establish trends and assess the odour behaviour under different conditions.
CVLX have established a feedback hotline for reporting issues directly to the company. Community can report directly to: