What a stink – Action call on putrid stench

THE Environmental Protection Authority has agreed to review several complaints raised by a newly formed local group concerned about air and water quality in the Plenty area.

The Upper Plenty Action Group, headed by Derwent Valley Medical Clinic GP Dr Fiona Beer, is made up of concerned residents and businesses.

Dr Beer said for more than five years residents and local businesses had complained to the authorities regarding concerns at the Plenty Compost facility.

“There is concern regarding water health, ongoing poor air quality, regular putrid offensive smells wafting from the property,’’ Dr Beer said.

The facility receives waste including human faecal, salmon farm and local distillery waste and sludge from Norske Skog.

Dr Beer said she had moved to the area a year ago and in this time had seen excavators’ clear land and spread waste across the vast hectares of the property.

“Now driving past this property, one is confronted with a foul smell, which may contain airborne pathogens,’’ Dr Beer said.
“When the road is wet vehicles are plastered with contaminated waste.’’

She said since working at the Derwent Valley Medical Clinic she had treated several patients who lived near the compost facility.

“Patients have attributed their medical conditions to the site.

I fear the residents experience higher rates of respiratory illnesses, skin conditions, gastrointestinal illnesses, and suffer lower quality of life due to this facility.
“Local farmers supplying fruit internationally risk having their product tainted due to the poor air quality.

“The heritage- listed Salmon Ponds is at risk of damage to its tourism brand.. “Most importantly – 250,000 residents in Southern Tasmania, rely on drinking water which risks contamination from this site; as the Plenty River remains an unregulated major tributary in the Derwent catchment and is the last significant tributary to the Derwent River prior to Bryn Estyn intake.
“For months myself, and many other locals have been complaining to the EPA and Derwent Valley Council regarding the poor air quality and offensive odours multiple kilometres past the property.’’

An EPA spokesperson said the current Environment Protection Notice did not prevent the facility from undertaking composting activities on the site.

“It prevents the receipt and application of liquid wastes as part of the composting process.
“The land spreading of the biomass received from Norske Skog on the property beyond the boundaries of the compost facility is managed separately and is not part of the permit for composting.
“The EPA has received a letter from the president of the Upper Plenty Action Group Inc, which raises a number of issues.
“The EPA is currently reviewing the matters raised, and will respond to the Upper Plenty Action Group Inc. in due course.

In March this year, the Gazette reported the EPA had asked the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider if charges should be laid against Plenty Compost facility.

This followed an incident in 2020 when pollution leaked into the Plenty River and Salmon Ponds. The EPA issued an Environmental Protection Notice prohibiting liquid waste from being disposed of at Plenty.