Probes and inspections have been expanded at the landfills in Ipswich following the recent floods as residents continue to deal with odour issues and fight for clean air.
In a statement, the Department of Environment and Science (DES) said that it is taking action against those responsible for the stench impacting the residential communities.
DES has ordered Cleanaway, one of the operators of the landfill, to continue treating the dumpsites to reduce the odour and ensure that the chemical treatments are carefully disposed of across the water body.
DES also stated that water sampling has been conducted at Cleanway’s facilities, which indicated low levels of contamination.
Community Needs to See Improvement
Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding acknowledged the “horrendous” smell at landfills in Ipswich, specifically in Swanbank and New Chum. Whilst she backs the DES probe, the mayor also said that this effort will mean nothing “if the community don’t see an improvement.”
“DES is responsible for investigating and responding to community concerns about odour, dust and other environmental nuisances,” the mayor said.
“Council supports the moves that Cleanaway are making in firstly announcing publicly that they believe they have a problem and are trying to fix it – and we encourage them to communicate to the regulators and the community on this complex and worrying issue.
“They must comply with the state government laws and operate in a safe manner.”
However, a DES report published on 5 May 2022 cited that whilst Cleanway was given clearance for a 24×7 transfer operation of leachate, there have been no trucks on-site, per the members of the Ipswich Residents Against Toxic Environment. They have written the Environment Minister to bring this issue to light.
Health Issues Affecting Residents
Some of the affected residents include Collingwood Park and Riverview. One local councillor said that the Odour Abatement Taskforce has received 13,450 complaints about odour, dust and other environmental issues since its formation in 2018.
Locals have been asking to shut down these landfills for nearly a decade. Reports cited that the recent flooding has made the stench intolerable and out of control and the quality of the air makes their eyes water.
Some residents wake up with migraines or respiratory issues and deal with a stench that makes them vomit. The locals said the smell wafts through their backyard and into their vents and windows.