Friday, November 20, 2009

Stench fuels call to tackle tip waste BY LAURA LUVARA

PEOPLE living close to the Tullamarine landfill were last week plagued by a foul smell they believe is emanating from the former dump.
The latest complaints came as frustrated residents called a public meeting to keep the community informed about what is happening at Tullamarine Landfill Advisory Committee meetings, which have been closed to the general public.

The next committee meeting will be held today. Panel members - including representatives from landfill operators Transpacific Industries (TPI) - will address the issue of LNAPL (light non-aqueous phase liquids) on the site.

This substance consists of deadly chemicals, including PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and heavy metals. The committee meeting will be followed by a public meeting on November 24.

Terminate Tullamarine Toxic Dump Action Group president Kaylene Wilson said she rushed to investigate the smell on Friday after receiving a call from a resident.

"I drove straight up to the dump when the resident rang me and I could smell it too, so it's not a figment of our imagination.

"I called the Environmental Protection Authority and within hours there was someone there, but they said the smell was not coming from the dump."

TPI has indicated it may consider developing a "tank farm" to store LNAPL, but Ms Wilson said this would happen "over my dead body".

The tanks would store the extracted LNAPL and release gas pressure through valves intermittently.

"If they do that they might as well open up the dump for everyone and let all the gases out - that stuff is deadly."

EPA Victoria spokeswoman Ruth Ward said it had recently received only one complaint of odour relating to the landfill.

"In the last three months, EPA has received one report, via our pollution watchline, of odour allegedly from the closed Tullamarine landfill," she said.

"EPA officers did not detect any odours in the area around the landfill. The officers then inspected the landfill and assessed the most likely cause of odours, including leachate ponds, landfill cells and bin storage areas, and found no major odour source."

Western Region Environment Group chairman Harry Van Moorst said the most recent document released by TPI providing information about LNAPL was "misleading" when it described the substance as being largely a mixture of degraded waste.

"The reality is it has well above EPA safety levels of PCBs in it and contaminants and it's so highly contaminated no facility in Victoria is licensed to treat or dispose of it."

TPI landfill manager Phil Carbins did not respond to a Hume Weekly request for comments by deadline.

The public meeting starts at 7.30pm on November 24 at the Hume Global Learning Centre, Pascoe Vale Road, Broadmeadows.

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