Residents kick up a big stink

By Candice Boyle
COMMUNITY action groups and three city councils will soon appeal for State Government intervention if industries in the West don’t clean up their act.
Odours from industries operating in the Brooklyn triangle have been plaguing the West for six years – but residents have had enough.
The call to put an end to the odours follows more than 200 complaints received by the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) about the area during August and September.
Yarraville On the Nose group member Bruce Light said polluting industries should no longer be tolerated so close to residential areas.
“I am fed up with the Western suburbs being treated like a second-class area because of the odour emitted from industries,” he said.
The recent spike in odour complaints has prompted a cross-municipal response from Maribyrnong, Hobsons Bay and Brimbank mayors who will meet the EPA next month. City of Maribyrnong mayor Michael Clarke said the issue was being treated as one of regional importance shared between the three municipalities.
“It was agreed by the three mayors that, although the EPA has made some progress on the issue, more action needs to be undertaken,” he said. “If the circumstances don’t improve, the mayors will elevate the action to Gavin Jennings, Minister for the Environment and Climate Change, so these matters can be addressed directly with him.”
Mr Light said the mayors’ support might not be enough to bring an end to the problem.
“We support and applaud council for taking this on, but they had a similar group back in 2003 and we just hope that this time we get some positive action,” he said.
Despite the continuing complaints, the EPA said action was being taken.
EPA West Metropolitan region manager Scott Maloney said while the EPA recognised the odour was unacceptable, improvements were being made by each of the key companies to reduce offensive odours affecting residents. Baybrick (Tasman Group Services), Cargill Processing and SITA Australia (formerly Organic Recyclers) have been identified as potential odour sources and Mr Maloney said all three companies had breached their licence agreement in the past, as recently as last month for Cargill.
Mr Maloney said the Cargill had let the community down when it was recently fined $5506 for breaching its licence.
Mr Light said the EPA was under a lot of pressure from the community but had failed to bring an end to the problem for residents living in the areas most affected.
“We are disappointed in the EPA’s response to us, they have cancelled two meetings we had arranged and they were cancelled without an explanation,” he said.
“We have been quite motivated to fix up the image of the West, but we can’t do it alone.”
Mr Light said he felt State Government support would be needed to help companies to comply with their licences to quell the industry odour.
“By no means are we against industry in that area, providing they can comply with their agreements and they can contain odours within their boundaries,” he said.