Public meeting called over Coast’s majorenvironmental and public health issue

Some of the exposed waste at the Mangrove Mountain landfill (left), Area excavated in 2012 destined to be lined and filled with more waste (right)

A public meeting will be held at Gosford Leagues Club on June 16 to alert Gosford and Wyong residents to the risks associated with the Mangrove Mountain landfill.

The Mountain Districts Association community group has called the meeting as part of its campaign for a public inquiry into the operation and regulation of the “huge leaky waste dump that has the potential to poison the water supply to over 300,000 residents of the Central Coast.” The group’s primary aim is to see the dump closed and the site cleaned up, “rather than put the community at even greater risk by allowing substantially more waste to be dumped on the site over the next 10 years. “We have absolutely no confidence that EPA and Council oversight will be any better than it has been over the past 15 years,” said Mountain Districts Association spokesperson Dr Stephen Goodwin. “Successive dump operators ran amok and broke all the rules and guidelines without any substantial penalty,” Dr Goodwin said. “This gross mismanagement continues to this day. “Everyone except the community up here has turned a blind eye,” he said. “It beggars belief that an environmentally unsafe waste landfill of this size could be permitted to continue operating,” Dr Goodwin said. “The EPA and the minister for the environment might like to say otherwise, but they have no data to back up their assertions of no harm. “Occasional selective water sampling is not proof of no impact. “Everyone knows leachate entering the drinking water is a health issue. “Would you knowingly drink the stuff?” he said. “Worse, despite being warned, the NSW premier, continues to ignore the call to shut it down, clean it up and repatriate the site, and hold a commission of inquiry into what went wrong,” he said.

The public meeting at the Central Coast Leagues Club on Thursday, June 16 from 7:00pm aims to alert Gosford and Wyong residents to the risks and what needs to be done about it, Dr Goodwin said. “The appointment of new Central Coast Council administrator, Mr Ian Reynolds, gives the community an opportunity to provide a detailed briefing of the facts and to seek action and support for appropriate measures,” Dr Goodwin said. “Mountain Districts Association will be seeking a meeting with Mr Reynolds at the earliest opportunity. “He has also been invited to the public meeting. “This will give him a firsthand opportunity to hear the facts and the community’s opposition to the dump. “There needs to be a Commission of Inquiry into the activities of Mangrove Mountain Landfill. “It is the only way all of the facts can come out into the open. “While we know a lot about what has gone on, we also know that there is a lot of other damning information not in the public domain for reasons of confidentiality, that needs to come out. “This must have an opportunity to be made public and a commission of inquiry is the only way this can happen. “The EPA and the former Gosford Council are both guilty of failing to meet their statutory obligations with regards to the Landfill. “They have sat and watched the pile of waste grow to mountainous proportions way beyond what council approved. “They have turned their backs while illegal waste was dumped there so that we now have a major environmental problem. “This is the Central Coast’s major environmental and public health issue,” he said.

According to Dr Goodwin, despite EPA initial assertions that it did, the mountain of waste does not have an impervious lining underneath it capable of capturing all of the toxic leachate flowing from it and diverting it into a holding pond for proper treatment and disposal. “Most of the leachate is going straight down into the groundwater aquifers and into the catchment for the Ourimbah Creek system that supplies drinking water to Central Coast residents. “On top of this, even if the waste mound was lined, the current leachate pond of 100,000 litres is only three per cent of the correct design capacity for a pile of waste this size. “And it will get far worse. “A six million litre leachate pond is planned to be sited on the golf course. “How will this huge volume of toxic liquid be continually accessed, emptied and treated?” Dr Goodwin said. Dr Goodwin said he believed the Mountain Districts Association had uncovered legal grounds for a new DA process in its investigations. “The law is the law and this cannot be ignored,” Dr Goodwin said. The group also wants questions answered about whether former Gosford councillors were fully advised of critical information relating to the landfill. “As a result, councillors may not have been in a position to make a fully informed decision on how council might proceed in dealing with this matter during the period when council was in the Land and Environment Court with the Landfill Operators. “This would appear to contravene the former Gosford Council’s code of conduct and is a major public concern that demands investigation.”

The community meeting will commence at 7:00pm.

Media release, May 30, 2016 Stephen Goodwin, Mountain Districts Association