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Cleanaway New Chum odour issues

The Department of Environment and Science (department) is undertaking inspections of waste operators in the Swanbank area of Ipswich to deal with excess water and odour issues.

The department acknowledges that odour issues have been a longer-term problem.

Investigations conducted by the department identified that the Cleanaway landfill located in New Chum is a major source of the odour issues currently impacting the community, particularly around the Collingwood Park area.

The department is taking action to ensure that those responsible for the odour cease impacting the community and the issues are resolved as quickly as possible.

What action is being taken?

As Queensland’s environmental regulator, the department:

  • commenced a formal investigation into the Cleanaway issue to determine if there has been any unlawful activity
  • has issued Cleanaway with two formal Directions Notices requiring them to:
    • transfer excess water offsite to reduce water levels
    • continue to treat water onsite
    • take steps to better distribute chemical treatments to address odour issues
  • has issued Cleanaway with one information notice under Section 451 of the Environmental Protection Act 1994. This notice is seeking specific information and records relating to the operators activities to manage odour on-site. Unlike Directions Notices, they are not publicly available on the Public Register Portal.
  • is continuing increased inspections at Cleanaway to ensure the company addresses the odour issues to reduce the impacts to the local community
  • is undertaking air quality monitoring at the Cleanaway site, working with Queensland Health to review the data collected
  • is undertaking air quality monitoring in the local community, working with Queensland Health to review the data collected
  • issued an environmental protection order to Cleanaway on 12 April 2022 to undertake their own air monitoring onsite and report regularly to the department.
  • Issued a second environmental protection order (in relation to the current odour issues) to Cleanaway on 21 June 2022 directing them to assess gas management on site and develop a plan to reduce gas emissions.

Operational updates

Monday 1 August 2022

  • There is 15.2ML of water in the affected cell (as at 31 July). Water continues to be treated and pumped out of the cell and transported off site to sewer via authorised discharge points (manholes).
  • Air quality monitoring data has been updated on the website with H2S data up to 25 July. The data continues to show lower levels of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) being detected, which is reflected in a reduced number of community reports to the Pollution Hotline.

Previous updates

  • The volume of the water body is continuing to decline with minimal rain in the last week.
  • The department continues to meet with Cleanaway representatives to discuss their plans to intercept groundwater from the affected cell. Cleanaway has started work on constructing a groundwater interception trench. This is intended to manage the groundwater that is flowing into the water body so the volume of water can be reduced and the area can be remediated.
  • The department also continues to request updates about the actions being taken on site to manage the odour, reduce the volume of water, manage leachate and manage fugitive emissions on site.
  • Air quality monitoring data has been updated on the website with H2S data up to 18 July. During the past week, the department’s air quality monitoring program has continued to detect much lower levels of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in the area, which is reflected in a reduced number of community reports to the Pollution Hotline.
  • Results from four more community air quality monitoring canisters have also been sent to residents and are available on the air quality monitoring data web page. The results are from canisters in Hubert St, Dinmore and Shanahan Pde, Redbank Plains.
  • The department continues to have a presence at the New Chum site with officers visiting at least three times a week to meet with Cleanaway representatives, make site observations and verify progress. Senior staff from the department and Cleanaway meet twice a week to understand what is being done, what challenges have arisen and what Cleanaway is yet to focus on.
  • There is 25.9ML of water in the affected cell (as at 17 July). Water continues to be treated and pumped out of the cell and transported off site to sewer via authorised discharge points (manholes).
  • Ground water continues to enter the affected cell at a rate of about 2ML per day. Cleanaway is investigating options to intercept the groundwater to prevent it from entering the cell however the majority of the water in the cell must be removed to do this. In the meantime, the water body is being treated with sodium hypochlorite to minimise odour generation.
  • The number of odour complaints has remained relatively low during the past fortnight.
  • New air monitoring equipment is being trialled by the department to analyse air quality samples from the Cleanaway site. The equipment is capable of testing for more compounds than the current technology. The increased sensitivity is being evaluated to create air quality ‘fingerprints’ for various industries and individual sites. Read more in our latest newsletter update.
  • There were no significant additional site impacts after last week’s rain.
  • The main focus continues to be reducing odour and the water level in the affected cell.
  • Last week’s rain caused a slight interruption to the transport of affected water off-site to authorised QUU locations.
  • While last week’s rain did not significantly impact the water level in the affected cell, ground water continues to enter the cell at a rate of about 2ML, continuing to make reducing the water level a slow process. Cleanaway continues to work on a plan to address the ground water.
  • Air quality monitoring data has been updated on the website. During the past week, the department’s air quality monitoring program has detected much lower levels of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in the area, which is reflected in a reduced number of complaints to the Pollution Hotline.
  • The department has been in regular contact with Cleanaway to ensure they were prepared for the anticipated rainfall this past weekend and that they had taken steps to manage stormwater and minimise the likelihood of odour issues being exacerbated.
  • During the past week, Cleanaway has continued to remove between 2.8–3.2 ML of water.
  • The water level in the affected cell has continued to slowly drop, although there was a slight increase in the water level over the weekend as a result of the rain. Groundwater also continued to enter the water body at an estimated rate of over 2 ML over the past week.
  • Cleanaway continued to undertake works onsite including capping and stormwater management works to mitigate further water entering the affected cell.
  • Results from a further five community air quality canisters have been provided to residents and are available on the static air quality monitoring page. The latest results are from canisters in Quartz Court, Tone Drive, Maudsley Crescent, Reerden Street and Alawoona Street in Collingwood Park.
  • Cleanaway continue to reduce the volume of water in the landfill cell by removing between 2.5 – 3.3 ML of water per day. However, groundwater is also entering the water body at an estimated rate of over 2.0 ML per day, meaning that progress is slow in reducing the water level.  Cleanaway is investigating options to intercept the groundwater to prevent it from entering the cell however the majority of the water in the cell must be removed to do this. In the meantime, the water body is being treated with sodium hypochlorite to minimise odour generation.
  • Department officers continue to conduct regular site inspections.
  • During the past week aerators and deodarisers have continued to operate. Some maintenance and repairs have been required to some of this equipment.
  • The capping works (to cover waste materials) are continuing on some sections of the site to help manage fugitive emissions and reduce odour. This process involves covering areas with clean soils and clays creating a barrier between the waste and the environment.
  • The Environmental Protection Order (EPO), issued to Cleanaway New Chum on 21 June (Enforcement number 100256441) is now available on the Public Register Portal.
  • The static air quality monitoring web page has been updated to include hydrogen sulfide (H2S) data from 10 departmental air monitoring sites in the local area up until 17 June. Live data is also available.
  • Results from a further eight community air quality canisters have been provided to residents and are also available on the static air quality monitoring page. The latest results are from canisters in Carlyle St and Mitchell St in Riverview, Currawong St and Cooneana St in Bundamba, Cothill Rd in Booval, Banks Court and Perry St in Redbank Plains and Botanic Crescent in Brookwater.
  • On 21 June 2022, the department issued Cleanaway with a second environmental protection order (EPO), in relation to the current odour issues. The EPO directs Cleanaway to assess gas management on site and develop a plan to reduce gas emissions. The EPO will be available Friday on the Public Register Portal. You can also visit Odour Abatement Taskforce to view the list of enforcement actions for the Swanbank area.
  • Department officers continue to conduct regular inspections to meet with Cleanaway representatives to discuss water levels, water removal, pond dosing progress and to conduct observations of the affected landfill area.
  • Air monitoring results for hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg gas) this past week, continue to be below the Environmental Protection (Air) Policy health and wellbeing objectives. However, the odour nuisance objective has been exceeded which explains why community members are reporting odour issues.
  • Over the last week, hydrogen sulfide exceedances above the nuisance levels were monitored predominantly in the early hours of the morning in Riverview, Collingwood Park and Dinmore.
  • Since Friday 10 June, about 1475 truckloads of water have been transported offsite to the Bundamba sewerage treatment plan via authorised points (manholes).
  • On Friday 17 June, drones were on site to conduct aerial observations. This imagery contributes to the current operational response and to the broader investigation into Cleanaway.
  • Water levels continue to drop slowly with the water body being treated with Sodium Hypochlorite to minimise odour generation.
  • The department continues to monitor Cleanaway’s onsite remediation progress by conducting regular inspections and assess compliance with the Directions Notice issued in April.
  • Capping works (to cover waste materials) are occurring on some sections of the site to help manage fugitive emissions and reduce odour.
  • Two additional aerators have now been added to the existing aerators and deodorisers operating onsite to help reduce odour.
  • Cleanaway continues to transport up to 3ML of water off-site each day, all of which is treated prior to being discharged to the authorised points.
  • Since last Friday, about 950 truck loads of water have been transported offsite to the Bundamba sewerage treatment plan via authorised points (manholes).
  • Another air monitoring canister was delivered yesterday to a home in Collingwood Park. Thanks to local residents who continue to support the air monitoring program. To find out how to get involved visit our FAQs or contact the Pollution Hotline on 1300 130 372. There is no cost to residents to participate.
  • Check out our latest e-newsletter that was sent yesterday. You can also subscribe for future updates.
  • Air monitoring by the department’s hydrogen sulfide (H2S) monitors and community canister devices (that measure up to 74 different compounds) are an important part of our compliance efforts. Results from the H2S monitors are published live to our website and are monitored to ensure they are within acceptable health and wellbeing levels. Community members can request to have a canister device delivered to their home. Read more about the community canister program and how to participate in our FAQs.
  • Cleanaway New Chum is establishing a Community Reference Group (CRG). Read the full scope of the CRG and nominate by visiting the Cleanaway website. EOIs can be submitted by Wednesday 23 June. There are four questions to answer as part of a nomination.
  • Air quality monitoring data has been updated with results from six community monitoring sites. Results are from canisters at homes in Nicholis Dr and Benjamin Dr in Redbank Plains, Forgan Smith Drive and Avoca Crt in Collingwood Park, Vale St, Bundamba and High St, Blackstone. All air monitoring locations can be viewed on the location map at the top of the air quality monitoring data page.
  • Air quality monitoring data has been updated. The DES air monitoring in the community now includes data from 15 April to 2 June. The results are below the Environmental Protection (Air) Policy health and wellbeing objectives. However, the odour nuisance objective has been exceeded which explains why community members are reporting odour issues.
  • Since last Friday, about 830 truckloads of water have been transported offsite to the Bundamba sewerage treatment plant via authorised points (manholes).
  • New questions and answers have been added to the Frequently asked questions (FAQs) page. The answers cover topics such as what is happening to the water being removed from the site, who is paying for the water treatment and why trucks have not been running 24 hours a day, seven days a week to fix the problem more quickly.
  • The department continues to undertake site visits to monitor Cleanaway’s onsite remediation progress.
  • Cleanaway continues to transport of water off-site to the Bundamba sewerage treatment plant via five authorised points (manholes) and to Cleanaway’s Yatala water treatment plant.
  • Aerators and deodorisers continue to operate across the site and the exposed pond area continues to be dosed with chemicals to improve the water quality and reduce the odour.
  • Cleanaway has established a dedicated web page providing updates on the situation and progress being made onsite. This page provides a mechanism for community members to leave a comment which is responded to within 24 hours. A dedicated community hotline has also been established 1800 319 815.
  • Air quality monitoring data has been updated with results from six community monitoring sites. Results are from canisters at homes in Eagle St, Burdekin Court, Tone Street and Brenda Court in Collingwood Park and Percy Lane and Cotton Street in Redbank Plains
  • Air quality monitoring data has been updated. The DES air monitoring in the community now includes data from 15 April to 25 May. There are no significant changes to the key findings. This week’s update includes data from two new H2S monitoring locations in Grenadier Circle, Ebbw Vale and Hubert Street Dinmore.
  • A total of 37 air monitoring canisters have been delivered to residents in the local area. Results from the canisters and other DES air monitoring sites in the area are published weekly. Live data of hyrdrogen sulfide is also available.
  • Subscribe for email updates about the Cleanaway New Chum odour issues by visiting the Odour Abatement Taskforce and subscribing to the weekly email update.
  • Wet weather is predicted to continue this weekend. Read the updated FAQs for more information about the impact of additional rainfall in May 2022.
  • Transport of water off-site resumed yesterday and continues today. An increase in the amount of water being transported off-site has occurred today. The water is being transported to the Bundamba sewerage treatment plant via five authorised points (manholes).
  • Air quality monitoring continues in the community. Read the FAQs top find out more about the data, how it is collected and how you can be involved.
  • Transport of water off-site resumed today. Eight tankers are transporting water to the Bundamba sewage treatment plant via designated points (manholes). Weather permitting, the plan is to increase the volumes being moved off-site from tomorrow.
  • As a result of the most recent rainfall, water levels at the Cleanaway New Chum landfill site have been increasing. On Sunday 15 May 2022, Cleanaway lodged an application for a temporary emissions licence (TEL) to pump excess water to another water storage facility on site so that the water could be diluted and released into Six Mile Creek. After reviewing the application and liaising with Cleanaway, the Department of Environment and Science deemed the application to be invalid due to insufficient information being provided about how water quality and odour risks associated with the proposal would be addressed. The department will continue to ensure that Cleanaway consider other options for reducing the volume of water on site and address odour issues.
  • The department is continuing increased site visits to monitor the water body onsite following the recent rain event.
  • The department has undertaken water quality sampling onsite using drone technology.
  • Transportation of water off-site remains suspended due to increased pressure on sewage treatment systems as a result of increased rainfall.
  • Read the FAQs for more information about the impact of the current rain event.
  • Earthworks have been undertaken on site to manage the heavy rainfall and divert as much as possible from the affected pond.
  • Dosing of the water continues to manage the odour.
  • Transporting water off-site has temporarily stopped. This is due to increased pressure on sewage treatment systems during heavy rainfall. The department will publish an update on this page when transportation resumes.
  • Air quality monitoring in the community is an important part of the department’s regulatory response to address the odour issues at the Cleanaway New Chum site. Read the FAQs below to find out more about the data and how you can be involved. It’s easy – phone us to register and a canister can be delivered to your door.
  • The department has been liaising with Cleanaway to ensure they are fully prepared for the anticipated rainfall this week and they are taking appropriate steps to manage stormwater and minimise the likelihood of odour issues being exacerbated.
  • Air quality data from three more community monitoring sites have been published. The results are from canisters located at one home in Riverview and two in Collingwood Park.
  • Excess water continues to be transferred from the site. Cleanaway has been provided with the relevant state and local government approvals to dispose of some of the water into the sewer system via designated points (manholes). This water is being treated at sewerage treatment plants and is not used for drinking water.
  • An information notice Under Section 451 of the Environmental Protection Act 1994 has been issued to Cleanaway requesting information about the ongoing methods being used to address the odour issues.
  • Thanks to those local residents who have volunteered to have an air quality monitoring canister on their property. We have had 30 requests and 21 have now been delivered. Our map and new data from community canisters at the air quality monitoring results web page are expected to be updated by tomorrow.
  • Want email updates about the Cleanaway New Chum odour issues? Visit the Odour Abatement Taskforce and subscribe to the weekly email update. (In the right hand navigation, click on the ‘Subscribe’ link.)

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Further information

Learn more about the Odour Abatement Taskforce.