Meander Valley Gazette

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Westbury, the not so sweet smell of success

NewsJoanne EisemannComment

February 2018 | Sharon Webb

TASMANIA’S ENVIRONMENT authority has slapped odour conditions on a fish food factory approved for Westbury’s industrial precinct in the face of Tas Alkaloid’s strong objections to aspects of the plan.

Meander Valley councillors approved the mill to produce fish food for Tasmania and New Zealand’s aquaculture industries at their January meeting: seven for the proposal, one abstention and one absence.

None queried the Ridley company’s testing which showed odours at the mill boundaries would be a minimum of 15 times allowed by Tasmania’s Environment Protection Authority regulations.

Mayor Craig Perkins said it was “terrific” that one of Australia’s larger agricultural animal food producers had chosen to build in Westbury, commenting it would employ 250 people in the construction phase and 20 when completed.

But in a letter to Council and the authority, which has also approved the development, Tas Alkaloids’ CEO Doug Blackaby said Ridley’s Development Proposal and Environmental Management Plan plays down the strength of the smell to emanate from the mill.

He also said Ridley’s storm water runoff will increase flooding and contaminants on the Tas Alkaloid site.

Mr Blackaby was clearly irritated by Ridley’s claim that the mill’s smell ‘will not cause an adverse reaction as the workers on [Tas Alkaloid and other] sites have a lower expectation of air quality … than what would be expected at a residential setting.’

“We believe it is inappropriate to suggest that our employees are less susceptible or have a lower risk of sensitivity to odours …” Mr Blackaby wrote.

“Odour modeling clearly demonstrates the Environment Protection Authority odour assessment criteria is exceeded at the property boundary.”

Tas Alkaloids challenged Ridley’s meteorological data, saying north and northwest winds will push odours further and stronger than testing predicted.

Ridley acknowledges that while its mill will be two kilometers from Westbury, the nearest residence is only 900m away and Tas Alkaloids, TasBuilt Homes, Delmade, LNG Refuellers and the BOC Liquified Natural Gas facility are close neighbours.

They predict ‘atmospheric emissions’ smelling like 'a mild bark or fresh wood mulch odour,’ but the company will use a biofilter to deal with them.

Ridley’s own testing shows emissions at the mill boundaries would be excessively more than the permitted 2 OU (odour unit); at three boundary locations it was 73, 54 and 32 OU respectively.

But more costly odour-efficient methods were not warranted, they said.

The Environment Protection Authority responded by stipulating Ridley submits quarterly air testing results in its first operating year and twice a year after that.

Ridley must also keep a complaints register and notify the authority’s director of any complaint within 24 hours.

Meander Valley Council said Ridley must submit appropriate storm water drainage design drawings before building begins and have work approved by Council’s plumbing surveyor.

Ridley plans non-recycled wastewater will be discharged via the sewer through a trade agreement with TasWater and no canola or fish oil will enter water systems as they will be kept in tanks.

Initially, fish food production may be around 40,000 tonnes potentially increasing to 50,000 tonnes a year.

The mill will operate up to 24 hours per day for five days a week and maybe seven days per week according to demand, with a life of at least 20 years.

*All documentation on the Ridley fish food mill proposal can be seen at http://meander.tas.gov. au/page.aspx?u=368 - see council meeting agenda 16th January 2018.