Council backs state probe into odour

05 April 2022

Odour concerns are now being investigated by the Department of Environment and Science (DES) after a sharp rise in complaints to the environmental regulator’s Odour Abatement Taskforce.

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said this matter is extremely distressing and frustrating for the community and welcomed the regulator’s action.

“Ipswich City Council has been calling for an investigation and working with the State Government to attempt to identify, isolate and address the issue. The stench is horrendous,” Mayor Harding said.

“It’s a relief to see DES escalating their investigation and increased inspections of waste operators in the Swanbank and New Chum area – but this means 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.

“It’s apparent that the recent conditions including rainfall and flooding have exacerbated this issue as much of the many thousands of tonnes of flood impacted waste locally and from neighbouring local government areas is coming here to be disposed of.

“However, community odour reports have increased since before the recent rainfall and flood events.”

It is anticipated that a combination of increased waste coming to Ipswich, and an increase in disposing wastes following the recent floods is contributing to this issue.

“While we do not shy away from the critical need for disposal of flood impacted wastes, we also need to protect our community,” Mayor Harding 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.”

Ipswich City Council adopted a Waste and Circular Economy Transformation Directive in 2020 and council continues taking innovative steps to cut waste, improve resource recovery and drive the circular economy.

Division 3 Councillor Andrew Fechner said the community had been suffering from the impacts of waste industries for years and it was hugely disappointing that it had taken months to see some progress on this latest issue.

“Residents of Collingwood Park and Riverview have told me the intense smell is forcing them to keep all their windows and doors shut and that they feel like prisoners in their own homes,” Cr Fechner said.

“The odour has been horrendous for weeks, it’s the worst I’ve ever experienced.

“I’ve also spoken with residents who have not been affected until recently.

“It is clear this problem has spread beyond the usual trouble spots.

“While the importance of these facilities is highlighted in times of emergency, that doesn’t mean that our community should continue to suffer.”

Division 3 Councillor Marnie Doyle said the odour abatement task force formed in 2018 following growing complaints in the community in respect to odour, dust and environmental issues.

“Since that time, the Taskforce had received more than 13,450 complaints in relation to odour, dust and environmental issues in the Swanbank Industrial Area,” Cr Doyle said.

“While residents may have complained before, it is strongly encouraged to report issues when and where they are experienced. This will assist in identifying the source, and ultimately a solution.”

“It’s crucial that the industry sort out these problems and engage with the community on what they are doing and start to build a relationship as a good neighbour.”