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Odour Abatement Taskforce

The Department of Environment and Science (department) regulates a number of environmental activities within the Swanbank Industrial Area including landfills and composting operations.

The department’s Odour Abatement Taskforce is a team of specialist officers working to investigate and respond to concerns raised by the community about odours, dust and other environmental nuisance in and around Swanbank.

Since its establishment in 2018, the taskforce has been working with the community, community leaders and the waste industry to:

  • provide additional on-ground presence and response to information reports from the public, plus proactive face-to-face engagement with local communities
  • examine and review current ;industry regulation and practice
  • review environmental authority conditions against contemporary standards
  • encourage better practice environmental stewardship
  • introduce new technologies to monitor air, noise and water quality.

The department is also jointly working with the Ipswich City Council and the waste industry to foster better regulation and compliance to meet community expectations.

Odour Abatement Taskforce vehicle

Targeted enforcement action

As a result of analysing more than 10,000 community reports, ongoing investigations and undertaking proactive odour surveys, the taskforce has identified the key odour-generating sites in the area.

Intensified, targeted enforcement action is now being undertaken at those sites that have been found to be in breach of their environmental obligations.

Previous enforcement actions undertaken in relation to these sites have included: formal warnings; statutory notices requiring identification and remedy of odour sources and causes; and fines.

Despite these actions, and ongoing education, these operators have continued to breach the conditions of their environmental authority.

The taskforce will continue to work closely with these sites to bring them in line with their licence conditions through a dedicated program of regular monitoring, inspections and enforcement responses.

Continued breaches may result in more serious enforcement actions including a Transitional Environmental Program (a legally binding program used for sites that require long-term changes and includes specific objectives to reduce environmental harm to the appropriate environmental standard); an Environmental Protection Order (a statutory notice requiring a person/company to undertake specific actions to rectify a risk or prevent further harm); and/or prosecution which involves larger fine amounts and possible jail time.

Industry regulation

Regulated sites in the Swanbank Industrial Area

The department regulates a number of environmental activities within the Swanbank Industrial Area by issuing operators with an environmental authority. An environmental authority has conditions listed within it that are designed to minimise environmental harm. Operators are responsible for complying with the conditions of their authority, which include preventing environmental nuisance (e.g. offensive odour).

Monitoring and compliance technology

The use of drones and air flow technology software continues to be part of the taskforce’s proactive compliance program to continue to monitor odour issues and trace them back to the source.

In 2020, Envirosuite technology, comprising 6 weather stations, was installed around the Swanbank Industrial Area. These stations analyse real time weather conditions and forecasted weather data to predict when and where odour may occur and the likely source.

The taskforce has successfully used this technology to conduct a number of proactive odour survey operations that have resulted in enforcement action taken against an operator causing odour emissions in the community.

Drone technology provides aerial imagery of sites that may assist to determine if sites are complying with their environmental obligations. If a breach is identified, drone footage provides valuable evidence to support potential enforcement and/or prosecution action against those who break the law.

Composting industry regulation and reform

Odour issues are complex and finding the right solution through implementation of best practice control measures takes time.

The department is working closely with the waste industry to provide guidance on long-term solutions to prevent and/or reduce ongoing odour issues. This includes the development of a guideline for composting, which provides clear and contemporary best practice advice on composting activities in Queensland. It also provides clear expectations for operators, communities and local governments regarding the department’s regulatory standards.

The department has also developed updated model operating conditions. These conditions provide an indication to operators on the conditions likely to be imposes on their environmental authorities.

Regulatory guidelines

Enforcement actions data

Prosecution outcomes

On 18 September 2020, Bio-recycle Australia Pty Ltd was fined $300,000 for two offences of carrying out an environmentally relevant activity without an environmental authority (EA). Bio-recycle was receiving and disposing of more waste than it was licensed to across a three-year period from 2017 to 2019. Convictions were also recorded for the offences.

This is one of the highest penalties that has been imposed for a waste-related offence in Queensland’s history and sends a strong signal to anyone who is considering undertaking illegal waste activities or avoiding the waste levy.

Bio-Recycle was also ordered to pay $2,500 in legal costs and $1,984.20 in investigation costs. Bio-recycle holds an EA for its landfill in Swanbank to receive construction and demolition waste, which allows for waste disposal of more than 100,000 tonnes, but less than 200,000 tonnes per year. Bio-recycle exceeded this allowable threshold by unlawfully disposing of an additional 326,137.23 tonnes of waste between 2017 and 2019.

The following enforcement actions have been issued.

You can search the Public Register Portal for information and documentation relating to the enforcement actions listed below.

Date approved

Operator

Details

Penalty amount (if applicable)

01/04/2022Cleanaway Solid Waste Pty LtdIssued for contravening a prescribed provision under the Environmental Protection Act 1994.N/A
31/03/2022Cleanaway Solid Waste Pty LtdIssued for contravening a prescribed provision under the Environmental Protection Act 1994.N/A

14/12/2020

NuGrow Ipswich Pty Ltd

Issued for contravening a prescribed provision under the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

N/A

Date issuedOperatorDetails Penalty amount (if applicable)
21/06/2022Cleanaway Solid Waste Pty LtdEnvironmental Protection Order (EPO) issued for a breach of general environmental duty and a condition of the environmental authority.N/A
12/04/2022 Cleanaway Solid Waste Pty Ltd Environmental Protection Order (EPO) issued for a breach of general environmental duty and a condition of the environmental authority. N/A
21/12/2021 Cleanaway Solid Waste Pty Ltd Environmental Protection Order (EPO) issued for breaches of conditions of the environmental authority. N/A
06/09/2021 Cleanaway Solid Waste Pty Ltd Environmental Protection Order (EPO) issued for breaches of conditions of the environmental authority. N/A
01/04/2021 NuGrow Ipswich Pty Ltd Environmental Protection Order (EPO) issued for a breach of general environmental duty. View EPO. N/A
19/03/2021 Cleanaway Solid Waste Pty Ltd (Landfill) Environmental Protection Order (EPO) issued for breach of general environmental duty in relation to stockpile management in the resource recovery area. N/A
20/07/2020 Cleanaway Solid Waste Pty Ltd (Landfill) Environmental Protection Order (EPO) issued for a breach of general environmental duty. N/A

Date served

Industry type

Details

Penalty amount (if applicable)

17/06/2020

Composting

Issued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority.

N/A

Date issuedIndustry typeDetailsPenalty amount (if applicable)
28/03/2019 Wood Mulching Industries Pty Ltd (Composting) Environmental Evaluation enforcement issued to conduct or commission an evaluation with respect to odour emissions from the activities on the premises. A final report must be submitted to DES by 16 August 2019. N/A
19/03/2019 NuGrow Ipswich Pty Ltd (Composting) Environmental Evaluation enforcement issued to conduct or commission an evaluation with respect to odour emissions from the activities on the premises. A final report must be submitted to DES by 16 August 2019. N/A
Date issuedIndustry typeDetailsPenalty amount (if applicable)
11/02/2022Landscaping suppliesIssued for breaching a condition of the operator's environmental authorityN/A
07/06/2021Fertiliser manufacturingIssued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority.N/A
07/06/2021Fertiliser manufacturingIssued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority.N/A
07/06/2021Fertiliser manufacturingIssued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority.N/A
07/06/2021Fertiliser manufacturingIssued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority.N/A
07/06/2021Fertiliser manufacturingIssued for conducting an environmentally relevant activity without an environmental authority for the activity.N/A
07/06/2021Fertiliser manufacturingIssued for conducting an environmentally relevant activity without an environmental authority for the activity.N/A
20/01/2021CompostingIssued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority.N/A
20/01/2021CompostingIssued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority.N/A
02/11/2020 Landscaping supplies Issued for breaching a condition of the operator's environmental authority. N/A
16/06/2020 Landfill Issued for breaching a condition of the operator's environmental authority. N/A
09/10/2019 Earthmoving Issued for the unlicensed transportation of regulated waste into the Swanbank Industrial Area. N/A
29/07/2019 Landfill Issued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority. N/A
17/06/2019 Regulated Waste Transporter Issued for contravention of the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011. N/A
20/05/2019 Landfill Issued for failure to provide prescribed information to the department regarding transportation of trackable waste. N/A
20/05/2019 Landfill Issued for failure to provide prescribed information to the department regarding transportation of trackable waste. N/A
14/05/2019 Earthmoving Issued for the unlicensed transportation of regulated waste into the Swanbank Industrial Area. N/A
02/05/2019 Earthmoving Issued for the unlicensed transportation of regulated waste into the Swanbank Industrial Area. N/A
23/04/2019 Demolition Issued for the unlicensed transportation of regulated waste into the Swanbank Industrial Area. N/A
23/04/2019 Demolition Issued for the unlicensed transportation of regulated waste into the Swanbank Industrial Area. N/A
17/04/2019 Demolition Issued for the unlicensed transportation of regulated waste into the Swanbank Industrial Area. N/A
29/03/2019 Fertiliser manufacturer  Issued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority. N/A
13/12/2018 Composting  Issued for failure to provide prescribed information to the department regarding transportation of trackable waste. N/A
07/12/2018 Landfill Issued for failure to provide prescribed information to the department regarding transportation of trackable waste. N/A
06/12/2018 Landfill  Issued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority. N/A
29/11/2018 Composting  Issued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority. N/A
31/10/2018 Landscaping supplies Issued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority. N/A
25/08/2018 Composting  Issued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority. N/A
Date issuedIndustry typeDetailsPenalty amount (if applicable)
17/05/2022CompostingIssued for breaching a requirement of the operator’s Environmental Protection Order.$13,785
19/03/2021CompostingIssued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority in relation to odour nuisance.$13,345
05/03/2021LandfillIssued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority.$13,345
05/03/2021Landfill Issued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority.$13,345
17/07/2019 Composting Issued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority. $13,055
28/05/2019 Composting Issued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority. $13,055
29/03/2019 Composting Issued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority. $13,055
11/03/2019 Landscaping supplies Issued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority. $13,055
18/01/2019 Composting  Issued for conducting an environmentally relevant activity without an environmental authority. $13,055
12/12/2018 Composting  Issued for failure to provide prescribed information to the department regarding the transportation of trackable waste. $652
12/12/2018 Composting Issued for failure to provide prescribed information to the department regarding the transportation of trackable waste. $652
29/11/2018 Composting  Issued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority in relation to odour nuisance.  $13,055
31/10/2018 Landscaping supplies Issued for breaching a condition of the operator’s environmental authority in relation to dust nuisance. $13,055
Date issuedIndustry typeDetailsPenalty amount (if applicable)
29/04/2022 Landfill Seeking specific documents relevant to the administration and/or enforcement of the Environmental Protection Act 1994. N/A
21/08/2019 Composting Seeking information relating to the construction and commissioning of a leachate pond. N/A
25/07/2019 Composting Seeking specific information and records pertaining to waste received by an operator for the past 5 years. N/A
07/05/2019 Composting Seeking specific information and records relating to an operator’s activities and operations on site for a specific date when there have been spikes in community reports. N/A
07/05/2019 Composting Seeking specific information and records relating to an operator’s activities and operations on site for a specific date when there have been spikes in community reports. N/A
11/04/2019 Composting Seeking specific information and records relating to an operator’s activities and operations on site for a specific date when there have been spikes in community reports. N/A
11/04/2019 Composting Seeking specific information and records relating to an operator’s activities and operations on site for a specific date when there have been spikes in community reports. N/A
15/03/2019 Composting Seeking specific information and records relating to an operator’s activities and operations on site for a specific date when there have been spikes in community reports. N/A
11/03/2019 Composting Seeking specific information and records relating to an operator’s activities and operations on site for a specific date when there have been spikes in community reports. N/A
18/02/2019 Composting Seeking specific information and records relating to an operator’s activities and operations on site for a specific date when there have been spikes in community reports. N/A
18/02/2019 Composting Seeking specific information and records relating to an operator’s activities and operations on site for a specific date when there have been spikes in community reports. N/A
11/01/2019 Composting Seeking a specific document relevant to the administration and/or enforcement of the Environmental Protection Act 1994. N/A
11/01/2019 Composting Seeking a specific document relevant to the administration and/or enforcement of the Environmental Protection Act 1994. N/A
03/12/2018 Composting Seeking a specific document relevant to the administration and/or enforcement of the Environmental Protection Act 1994. N/A
16/12/2020 Composting Seeking specific information and records pertaining to monitoring, sampling, and analysis by an operator for the past 3 years. N/A

Report nuisance odour

Community reports play a vital role in helping the taskforce respond to, and investigate, the source of the issue in a timely manner.

How to report nuisance odour

Community members are encouraged to report nuisance odour they believe originated from the Swanbank Industrial Area by:

It is important to report any instance of odour impact, not just when it is bad, so the taskforce can record this information to help it assess broader community impacts and investigate further as needed.

What happens after an odour report is received

Odour reports received are used to correlate trends in odour movement, weather conditions, timing and the potential sources as well as linking back to specific industry activities and behaviours that cause nuisance odour.
This information, along with Envirosuite (predictive weather technology that helps forecast the likelihood of odour nuisance in a particular area) assists the taskforce to respond proactively in the field.

By investigating community reports, the taskforce has been able to identify key operators that are responsible for causing odour nuisance around Swanbank and take strong enforcement action against them.

Odour emissions can occur during industrial and commercial activities—but not all odours are unlawful. The taskforce’s role is to investigate concerns about odours released by operators conducting activities it regulates to determine if they have breached their environmental authority.

The taskforce does not conduct field inspections in response to every individual odour report. However, a field inspection may be conducted in response to a high volume of calls that indicate a significant pollution or nuisance event.

Community reports data

The following dashboards show how many community reports have been received by the taskforce. The data is updated on a weekly basis and includes:

  • the nature of the concern
  • description of the nature of concern
  • description of the odour (if applicable).

Connect with us

  • Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest news and updates.
  • Follow the Queensland Environment Facebook or Twitter social media accounts.
  • Talk to us at one of our community engagement events held in the suburbs surrounding the Swanbank Industrial Area.