Why there is hope of ending Swanbank 'kitty litter' pong
ROTTEN smells in Swanbank were the subject of much discussion in an Ipswich council committee meeting this week, so the timing of the announcement of an independent scientific review of materials used by industry in composting was more than apt.
The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) review, Environment Minister Steven Miles said, would "look at the materials the Swanbank industries currently accept for composting, and determine whether any changes may be required”.
It will also "proactive engagement with thousands of people living in the suburbs around Swanbank within the coming months”.
Acting Mayor Paul Tully said Mr Miles commitment was "a breakthrough” in terms of making available more state government resources and he hailed the engagement with residents.
The issue has gone around in circles. Residents complain about the smells, EHP and council officers investigate but are unable to pinpoint the source - an issue touched on by Mr Miles.
Enforcement and compliance action is then hard to enact, causing frustration for all concerned.
Companies have been fined for breaches but the
Cr Kerry Silver represents the Swanbank area where the industries in the spotlight are based.
She has welcomed the announcement by Mr Miles saying it was a "a great outcome after much lobbying by Ipswich City Council and residents” , but earlier told the QT this at she had received many complaints.
"When I get them I go out and do my own odour test and then follow that up with agencies” she said.
"We are in continuous talks with EPH and how it impacts people in the community.
"We have composting and landfill industries but this odour is very distinctive and does vary.
"Sometimes the odour smells like ammonia or a kitty litter box.
Cr Silver said she had been pushing for more community engagement by EPH since she was elected last year "so we can come to a resolution for residents”.
"I'd like to see the operators of those businesses come into the 21st century and start using the technology they have in Europe where you have similar facilities operating beside residential areas and there are no odour emissions.
Cr Tully urged residents to continue to provide feedback to EHP in the meantime so that the full extent of the problem could be assessed, and action taken
"My understanding is that they are going to touch base with all the complainants to eliminate this and get rid of the odours once and for all,”
"This is big news for the people who have been complaining for years.”
"We need as many people as possible reporting incidents to assist in finally tracking down the exact source of odours,” he said.
"Further action can be taken once the source is confirmed.”
Last year in estimates hearings Bundamba MP Jo-Ann Miller questioned Mr Miles as to why there wasn't a full-time EHP officer located at Swanbank to "address concerns from the residents of Redbank Plains, Ripley, Raceview and Flinders View in relation to the dreadful smells that emanate from there”.
In the hearings Ms Miller said "previous Labor governments and environment ministers have had a full-time officer located at Swanbank”
" As a follow-up question, the local government always says that it is an issue for the environment department, which is ping-pong,” she said.
"The residents are, quite frankly, sick of it.
"I would like, through the minister, a full-time officer located at Swanbank, because we are sick of having a situation whereby we are told that they cannot get out there or whatever because they cannot identify where that smell is coming from.
"If an officer is there full time, they are able to identify that very fast.”