'Smelly' tip told to clean up its act


ASSURANCES that Biomass was doing everything possible that could be done to stop foul smells failed to reassure residents living and working near the facility yesterday.

Biomass has been given until the end of March by the Department of Environment and Climate Change to make significant improvements to the smells coming from the processing of organic material to comply with its licence provisions.

But neighbour Mandy Baston became so upset she walked out of a meeting between Biomass, Coffs Harbour City Council and residents.

Mrs Baston, who operates an equestrian centre beside the Coffs Coast Resource Recovery Park, said one of her clients, who was pregnant, had not seen her horse for four months, because the smell from the Biomass building made her 'chuck up' every time she visited the equestrian centre.

The regional manager of Biomass, Lee Beckett, promised residents that the wet weather problems which climaxed in weeks of foul odours recently would not reoccur.

Mr Beckett said weeks of pouring rain had meant piles of organic material which had been through the autoclave but not composted and had been left outdoors had turned anaerobic and foul-smelling.

These piles had then leaked runoff into the leachate pond (dam) and made this in turn anaerobic and foul-smelling.

He agreed management and operational issues had exacerbated the problems caused by the weather.

In recent weeks he said they had moved the piles indoors and sprayed them to suppress the smell, added enzymes and installed a permanent aerating system in the dam as well as discharging some of the leachate to the sewer.

Jeff Green, Coffs Harbour City Council's executive manager of strategy and sustainability, said not all the problem belonged to Biomass.

He said some smells were still coming from the tip face, because putrescible material from commercial firms was still going to landfill.

Mr Green said an old section of landfill had recently been uncapped for renewed use and this had added to the odour problem.

He said he expected tenders for a landfill gas and methane capture system to go to Coffs Harbour City councillors in May or June.

Such a system was always proposed as the third stage of the expanded Coffs Coast waste management system.

Mr Green said two different waste streams were processed by Biomass and the material which had caused the odour problem at the Biomass shed was organic material recovered from residents' red bins.

Residents have agreed to hold a fourth meeting in April to assess progress.

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