A business hit with a $13k fine says it will fight the penalty and says the foul odours could soon be a thing of the past.
A business hit with a $13k fine says it will fight the penalty and says the foul odours could soon be a thing of the past.

Is this Qld’s stinkiest suburb? 9572 complaints in three years

An Ipswich mulching company which has been hit with multiple fines in recent years for emitting foul odours says it will fight a $13,345 penalty issued today.

It is the latest in a string of penalties for Wood Mulching Industries (WMI) which was fined $13,000 last year and $11,000, by Ipswich City Council, in 2016.

WMI also promised neighbours that innovative new technology would help it greatly reduce the smell from its 70ha Swanbank site.

Since 2018 the Odour Abatement Taskforce has received 9572 complaints about odours and dust in the Swanbank Industrial Area involving a number of noxious industries.

The stench has become a political issue but the businesses, many of which have been there for decades, say it was Council which caused the problem by approving nearby housing estates.

 

Ipswich City Council fined Wood Mulching Industries several years ago for development application breaches.
Ipswich City Council fined Wood Mulching Industries several years ago for development application breaches.

The latest incident involved WMI, which was fined today (March 19) by the Department of Environment and Science.

Highly-trained DES workers called "calibrated noses'' went to the WMI site on December 8 and February 12 to literally sniff the air.

The Department said OAT officers confirmed an offensive odour at a Redbank Plains home was from the WMI site.

WMI was then issued with a penalty infringement notice (PIN).

Chaye North, whose father started WMI, said they would challenge the PIN.

He said it was particularly disappointing because his family's company had gone to enormous cost and effort to minimise smells.

 

The WMI site at Swanbank.
The WMI site at Swanbank.

They have submitted several develoment applications for new processes to slash odours, including housing some operations in a shed.

"We're looking at turning those odours into energy (biogas) which can power our site and other businesses in the area, and be used as diesel replacement,'' Mr North said.

"We want improvement as well (as neighbours and the Council/DES).

"We don't like being named and shamed as this Department has done.

"We have lodged DAs for an anaerobic digestion plant and a shed. This will all be going indoors.

"We're also trialling a forced aerator. From our end we're doing all we can.''

 

 

Mr North said since his father moved the company to Swanbank in 1993 a freeway and a road had been built through their property, and more and more housing had encroached.

But he said they accepted the reality of what had happened and were committed to putting in place the best technology available, despite the cost and time involved.

He also pointed out that WMI was a major contributor to the local economy, employing more than 20 staff and processing 200,000 tons of material which would otherwise be dumped in landfill.

His brother, Tyler North, has previously said: "We deal with the by-product of our society and we are doing a wonderful job, turning s*** into strawberry jam, when it used to end up in Moreton Bay."

 

 

A DES spokesman said OAT had "taken a range of enforcement actions to help improve odour issues within the Swanbank area'' including:

- 12 PINs issued since the OAT was set up in 2018, totalling $132,724

- 23 formal warnings issued

- 2 Environmental Evaluations undertaken

- 2 Environmental Protection Orders issued requiring operators to manage stockpiles in a manner to reduce fires

- 1 Transitional Environmental Program that requires the operator to invest in advanced odour management infrastructure to achieve compliance with its environmental authority.

It also prosecuted one operator in the Ipswich Magistrates Court for emitting odour and had doorknocked residents to inform them about the OAT and their rights.

The spokesman said new laws were also passed forcing companies in the area to cover odour-causing loads transported by trucks.

To report a Swanbank odour issue, call the Pollution Hotline on 1300 130 372 or fill in and submit an online environmental incident report through the department's website.

Originally published as Is this Qld's stinkiest suburb? 9572 complaints in three years



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