Residents want answers about big stink at Swanbank
RESIDENTS in Ipswich's southern suburbs will be all too familiar with the occasional rancid smell that wafts over when the wind conditions are right.
The establishment of large landfill and waste recycling facilities where coal mines used to be has had the undesirable side-effect of creating a stench that can be smelt for miles around.
Residents of Swanbank, Raceview, Flinders View and Ripley have been complaining of the smells for years, but the exact source has proven difficult to pinpoint, even for the state's environmental authorities.
There are several waste treatment and recycling plants in the vicinity, including Nugrow, Lantrak, Wood Mulching Industries and Remondis.
There are now increasing concerns among nearby residents, with the news that landfill operator Remondis plans to significantly expand its operations in the area, taking up four additional lots.
The 850-page Impact Assessment Report on the proposed expansion states the Remondis-operated Swanbank Renewable Energy and Waste Management Facility is running out of room.
"Waste filling is currently occurring in the Stage 1 area; available landfill airspace is predicted to be consumed by 2018 or 2019," the report says.
"To maintain ongoing operations at the SREWMF, REMONDIS is seeking a Development Approval for a Material Change of Use for the Stage 1B extension located immediately adjacent to and south of the existing Stage 1 area.
"The proposed Stage 1B footprint has experienced significant disturbance from pre-SREWMF open-cut coal mining and the development of the extension would form part of the rehabilitation of the site."
Remondis Swanbank site manager Ishrar Ali said his facility was not to blame for the smells that come from Swanbank.
"Environment and Heritage Protection and Ipswich City Council have been to the site on several occasions over the last few years and have walked away each time," Mr Ali said.
"We have nothing to hide and openly invite residents in if they have any concerns."
The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection confirmed what Mr Ali told the QT.
In a statement given to the QT, a spokesman from the department said that despite 63 odour complaints from 31 residents in the past 12 months, it could not substantiate any of those complaints, nor trace the odours to their source.
"The Swanbank area houses a number of odorous industries, and it can be difficult to isolate a specific source of odour. The odour also tends to be transient, subjective and weather dependent," the spokesman said.
Ipswich City Council has invited comments from members of the public on the proposed expansion, and it appears that not all residents are convinced.
Long-time Swanbank resident Joe Llewellyn said his neighbourhood copped a bad smell often when a south-easterly wind was blowing.
"You'll get the bad smells about 20 times a year - which is too often," Mr Llewellyn said.
"I will go and check on it when there is a smell to try to see where it is coming from, but it is hard to tell exactly."
The 85-year-old is a life-long resident of the Swanbank area and says he is concerned that his neighbourhood will be wiped out by the waste industries operating in the area.
"People are moving into the Ripley area now and they don't know what they are walking into," he said.
"There needs to be better environmental buffer zones. All they have at the moment are piles of dirt."
He is not the only one with serious concerns.
Ipswich City Council has already received several objections to the development proposal, which can be viewed by the general public on the PD Online site.
Providence Ripley resident Justin Murphy said he had already experienced bad odours which he blamed on the landfill activities.
"I would therefore strongly object to further expansions," he said.
"As a resident of Ipswich City, located in a new Providence development right next to where this expansion would occur, I would like to understand further details on what this request is and the expected ramifications and impacts on our community if this expansion was to occur."
Newly elected Division 3 Councillor Kerry Silver said she was eager to learn more about Remondis' plans for the area.
Ms Silver said she was aware of ongoing issues with odour.
"I don't have a degree in environmental management but I intend to read through the application and ask questions," she said.
"I want to speak with council planners and officers to get a better understanding of what the intentions are for this site.
"I also plan to listen to the community and hear what they want."
Members of the public are encouraged to report suspected pollution incidents to the EHP Pollution Hotline on 1300 130 372 so that the matter can be investigated.