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Construction is underway for a new landfill cell. PHOTO - Helen Tatchell

By Helen Tatchell

Putrescible – is this the word that is causing angst in the community, describing potential decaying smells of domestic waste? Or is it the potential for more truck movements at a designated waste hub of State significance?
The 2500Ha commercial and industrial waste and recycling site is Maddingley Brown Coal, owned by the Calleja family.
Last week’s (19 February) Moorabool News ran an article about a notice of an application to amend their planning permit. This would allow household waste to be accepted at the site and also a small change to days of operation to include Good Friday and Christmas Day.
Currently the permit allows for Use and Development of the Land for a Landfill, Production of Soil and Soil Products (including composting) and works associated with those uses; Materials and Recycling (Metals & Construction & Demolition waste).
David Maltby is the Principal Consultant – Zone Environmental for Maddingley Brown Coal and he told the Moorabool News there is a simple understanding of the amended application submitted to council.
“It is just a want to add household waste to the existing business,” he said.
“This site can take putrescible waste, the definitions are not clear on what this is but essentially, it is household waste, food waste essentially.”
Hemla Reddy, MBCs environmental scientist said, “whatever the resident puts in their household rubbish bin, will be brought to this site.”
Mr Maltby said currently the site does not accept household waste.
“..hence that’s what the application is for, and it is very straight forward when you look at it,” he said.
“The context is everything here – and I am not denying it can smell, no different to the smells that come from farmers and/or market gardeners fertilising their properties at certain times of the year,” Mr Maltby said.
And what are the potential odour impacts, especially when farmers apply fertiliser to their own properties, that have a slight odour at certain times of the year in Bacchus Marsh?
“I am glad you are aware of that, that is a very good question,” Mr Maltby said.
“Around 12-months ago there was a big kerfuffle on social media when the farmers were actually applying fertiliser to their paddocks etc, and comments were “oh doesn’t the land fill site smell”, and we could smell it here too.
“The soils around here are very low in organics so they (farmers) will use organic fertiliser,” he said.
“If you look at the potential odour omission profile for a municipal landfill taking this sort of household waste material, the EPA has done a lot of work on what the buffer should be, based on comparison of similar sites, particularly in Victoria. They worked out that 500-metres was an acceptable buffer for a municipal landfill. The EPA has a lot more control now of landfill sites.
“This is probably one of the longest running landfill sites in Victoria, this is not a new site for landfill, this is an existing landfill site.”
Mr Maltby said, “waste has been coming here since before 1970 and commercial waste has been coming here since 1990.”
“The only potential change is the odour generation, and if you look at where the cells are, the 500-metre buffer is pretty much managed within the Calleja owned land, with the exception of Cummings road.”
Mr Maltby also disputed claims that Biosolids (sewerage sludge) for composting would be brought to the site.
“The site is allowed to bring bio-solids in, it is already in the permit conditions and our application is not about adding that, it is already there.
“Whilst the site could bring in sewerage sludge, it has never happened to my knowledge, ever. We bring in fowl manure and mix with green waste (which is very nitrogen deficient),” Mr Maltby said.
And the claim to allow increased truck movements on Grant street?
“If you read the current planning permit there are a lot of controls on trucks, about which access etc, there is no application to change truck movements, most trucks that come here to the site are Calleja owned trucks and they all use Woolpack road, they just don’t use Grant street as per the permit conditions.
And do the complainants want a larger or lesser buffer zone on the site in general?
“No, the complainants want the site shut down so they can get their opportunity to do what they want to do,” Mr Maltby said.
Too close to a school and a 500-metre radius mail out process were also of concern to residents.
“The Bacchus Marsh Grammar is 2.5 kilometres from the site of activity and you can see why they want the distance increased because they want to whip up more concerns – this is not easy for any council – it appears they measured initially, the 500-metre mail, out from the title boundary and not the area of activity,” Mr Maltby said.
“If you use the EPA buffer guidelines, they are very explicit, so the buffer should be measured from the area of activity to the sensitive use; so, if you use that and apply a 1km buffer, no one would have had a notice issued, maybe one house.
“It is not up to Calleja to decide who gets a notice, it is entirely up to council.
“In the context it should be from how far it is from the activity,” Mr Maltby concluded.
Currently household waste in the Grampians region is being trucked past Bacchus Marsh to Ravenhall via the Western Highway. Mr Maltby believes the MBC site is a better solution from a traffic perspective and an environmental stand-point.
The application is not officially before council, a process that will occur after the deadline of March 5 is closed off for objections.

A larger look at the ‘under construction’ landfill cell.
PHOTO – Helen Tatchell