Shut Current Summary
The Summary below describes ShUT's current concerns over the DA 09/2077. As opposed to the 'ShUT Submission 16/10/09' which had to be Lodged with the SCC by 16/10/09, this Summary shows our concerns to date, and may be updated from time to time when new information about DA 09/2077 comes to hand.
Tomerong Tip - Current Summary. 14th July 2010
A massive landfill facility, run by private business, has been proposed for Tomerong Quarry, right in the heart of the popular Jervis Bay and St Georges Basin area.
If this proposal goes ahead, there will be serious impact on community amenity, business and tourism through increased heavy vehicle traffic as well as ground, water, air and noise pollution. In addition, there will be a toxic legacy left to the community for many years to come with potentially serious impacts on both the marine and terrestrial environment.
From 50,000 tonnes per year, the mega-tip will eventually grow to accept up to 100,000 tonnes per year of ‘non-putrescible’ waste from South Coast Regional Council and Illawarra areas.
The potential tip site lies in the catchment of both Jervis Bay and St Georges Basin and there is an Area of Ecological Sensitivity – it is a vegetation corridor within the property. Tomerong Creek has been assessed by DNR, now a part of DECCW as a Category 1 creek and the subject land is affected by a wildlife corridor under the JBREP
(Jervis Bay Regional Environmental Plan)
The traffic generated by the waste facility and quarry will escalate to over 30,000 truck movements per year. This means a truck going by every four minutes. Trucks will be travelling through our villages such as Berry, Kangaroo Valley and Milton. There will be a significant impact on the Princes Highway–Island Point Rd intersection, which is already a dangerous black spot.
To transport waste hundreds of kilometres on overburdened roads into a prime coastal asset makes no sense and lacks any indication that forward planning has been considered in this application. Dr Michael C Clarke in his second submission into Waste Generation handed down to Commissioner Weickhardt, strongly advocated against long distance waste haulage with regards to the environmental cost and public safety.
Understandably, this has raised a high level of concern across the Shoalhaven. Business and community response has been enormous, with rallies, public meetings, the creation of ShUT (Shoalhaven Unwanted Tip Inc.) action group and more than 750 submissions made to Shoalhaven City Council (SCC) an unprecedented number of submissions in the Shoalhaven. Council is now finalising its assessment for the Joint Regional Planning Panel – headed by Pam Allen. Importantly SCC is refusing to nominate anyone to represent local interest on the panel.
The NSW Dept of Environment and Climate Change and Water (DECCW) have recently turned from not supporting the proposal to providing ‘general terms of approval’, after the applicant provided further material, but DECCW has not made its full report available to public or SCC. DECCW has agreed to meet members of ShUT on Friday 23rd July.
ShUT is organising a rally at Parliament House in Sydney on Wed 21st July at 1pm.
The DA has been lodged by Watkins and Apperley for Tomerong Waste Pty Ltd. The land is owned by In-Ja-Ghoondji Lands Incorporated though In-Ja-Ghoondji Land Trust and
Community and Business Action taken so far:
* Shoalhaven Unwanted Tip (ShUT) Inc has arranged a rally for Wollongong at 10am to meet with Barry O’Farrell, and later on at 1 pm at Parliament House in Sydney on Wednesday 21st July. Local businesses are supporting a full-page advert in the South Coast Register to advertise this.
* ShUT is seeking to meet with members of parliament including Barry O’Farrell at Wollongong and possibly John Kaye, Ryan Stokes and Brad Hazzard at Parliament House in Sydney.
* Local, State and Federal members are opposed to the application as lodged with Shoalhaven City Council. Local Member for South Coast, Shelley Hancock, is travelling to Sydney in support of the rally and has organised a meeting with Barry O’Farrell at Wollongong and a follow up meeting with Catherine Cusack at a date yet to be confirmed.
* There is plenty of online activity with two Facebook sites with a total of 1000 members and a website: www.shutip.com
*ShUT membership currently stands at just under 300 members with an email distribution of 450 supporters, businesses and community groups.
Issues in more detail
1 Waste – what and where.
The landfill will contain among other things: garden waste, wood waste, treated pine, paper and cardboard. On the less putrescible side it includes waste contaminated with lead, drained oil-filters, containers previously containing dangerous goods, building cavity dust, synthetic fibre waste and plastics. ‘Prohibited’ material (i.e. asbestos) will not be received, but if it does enter the site it will be stored on site to await appropriate disposal. A facility like this must have an independent assessment of each load at point of arrival and this has not been addressed satisfactorily in the General terms of Approval given by DECCW. Furthermore, DECCW in their General Terms of Approval state “the only waste that may be received at the premises for disposal is ‘residual waste after the recovery and processing of “recyclables” by specialist organisations’.
In the Shoalhaven we have already had one waste facility temporarily closed because of asbestos contamination from building waste. It is obviously in the operator’s interest to accept everything that arrives. They will be paid for it.
The DA proposes to divert waste from Council’s landfills within the Southern Council Group, Illawarra, Shoalhaven and south-east regions of NSW. As SCC currently processes about 4,800 tonnes of this waste a year it must be assumed that the rest will come from miles away: ‘Waste miles’ in other words. This flies in the face of current energy efficiency policy. There is no documentation in the proposal or to Council’s knowledge of where the additional waste is coming from.
2 Water catchment and toxicity.
The hydrological study in the proponents Environmental Impact Statement is, by its own admission, based on assumption. In fact it states that they have no water flow data. Without real data the study can only be speculative. Is this good enough when you consider the potential toxicity of the leachate, the proximity of Tomerong and Duck Creeks (which flow into Jervis bay and St Georges Basin) and the seepage through the site? The closeness of the quarry to the landfill is also alarming when you consider that one will be blasting while the other is attempting to contain toxic material. We are also told in the EIS that the bridge will cause flooding in times of high flow. A flood study on the bridge is all that the proponent has provided to the best of our knowledge.
Leachates will be produced and while the EIS does attempt to address this issue, it is likely that toxic chemicals will be leaching into ground water long after the plastic liners and clay topping have disintegrated. This will affect many generations into the future.
Once the company has filled its hole and made its money it will walk away and the landowners will be held accountable for any pollution management issues. There is no indication of any provision for managing leachate into our waterways in, say, a hundred years time when inevitably the liners will fail or we have a 100-year flood that the proposed dams and bridge will not be able to cope with. The community and the landowners have a toxic legacy to manage and no resources to do it with.
DECCW have increased the toxic leachate dam from 4.3 million litres to 6.0 million litres which is a covered dam constructed in an existing dam on the headwaters of Duck Creek with no evidence of flood studies been carried out on these dams. The proponent in his documentation states: ‘The proposed leachate collection system is designed to be a closed system.’ B.P. with their oil-rig and pipeline in the Gulf of Mexico probably thought their system was a ‘closed system’. The proponent proposed to pump a maximum of 350,000 litres of leachate daily over the landfill. All this with no flood study on the quarry, or the dams above the quarry.
3 Natural environment
The EIS concludes that the cumulative negative environmental impact will be relatively low. There is no discussion about the long-term impact. There is brief mention of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) and the Precautionary Principle. Surely if these principles were responsibly applied, this DA could not be supported by either Shoalhaven City Council or the Southern Joint Regional Planning Panel.
No strategic planning document has ever mentioned this type of development. In fact their opposition to this type of proposal is indicated by statements such as “to protect the natural and cultural values of Jervis Bay” (JBREP); “to maintain and enhance the marine, estuarine and natural resources by providing living opportunities which are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable” (Jervis Bay Settlement Strategy); and the vision in the South Coast Regional Strategy is for a “sustainable, attractive and liveable future for the South Coast”.
The company operating the quarry has already been fined for clearing Melaleuca biconvexa which is a state and nationally listed species. Their EIS states that the impact on Melaleuca biconvexa will be less than one percent and not significant. That is, less than one percent of what is left after the previous clearing. The EIS does not present any accurate or independent mapping of this species.
4 Traffic and noise
The traffic generated by the waste facility and quarry will escalate to over 30,000 truck movements per year. This will affect the whole of the Shoalhaven where we have several major traffic issues already. Trucks will be travelling through our villages such as Berry, Kangaroo Valley and Milton. There will be a significant impact on the Princes Highway–Island Point Rd intersection, which is already dangerous, and where there can often be a build-up of traffic between the roundabouts. It is unacceptable to subject residents to this volume of traffic in a rural residential zone. As for Gumden Lane (the unsealed road to the Quarry) having the capacity to take 30,000 trucks, this can only be described as ludicrous. Under the Rural Roads Act, Gumden Lane is not suitable to take this number of trucks.
Neither Island Point Rd nor Gumden Lane has safe egress for either pedestrians or bike riders who currently use this passage. The proposed volume of trucks will make it unusable for local residents. The volume of heavy vehicles will damage roads and increase maintenance costs throughout the Shoalhaven. Who will pay for this? The rate-payers of course.
The noise data in the EIS is flawed and the interpretation highly questionable. The figures have been conveniently interpreted to bring the noise impact below the level where any noise attenuation would be required. Once again there is no independence in the assessment and it is the residents who will pay the price of having their amenity compromised by a company that indicates it has no responsibility to minimise the noise. DECCW has requested that a noise barrier be installed along Gumden Lane, but no EIS has been carried out in regard to the installation of this device and it does not address the wider traffic noise issues along Island Point Rd. The air-quality data is also similarly flawed.
5. Economic impact
There is nothing in the DA to indicate that there is any economic benefit to the community. This is a company that intends to make a substantial amount of money by collecting waste and holding it in the middle of a nationally significant tourist destination. The EIS states that it will create only 4 or 5 jobs. How many tourism based jobs will it jeopardise? This development certainly does not meet the definition of ESD [Ecological Sustainable Development] and more certainly questions if Inter and Intra Generational Equity have been applied.
The land is owned freehold by the In-Ja-Ghoondji Lands Incorporated under the In-Ja-Ghoondji Land Trust and was granted to them by the ILC [Indigenous Land Council] on 26th June 1998 as one of the first two released on the Inaugural day of releases.
Note the ILC in its National Indigenous Land Strategy 1996-2001 ILC 1996,p.5 states 8.8 ‘The ILC gives priority to acquiring land which has cultural significance for indigenous peoples.’ The lessors could walk away and leave the owners and everyone else to clean up the mess as they have minimal interest in the property.