The NSW Premier must intervene to ensure that the Mangrove Mountain landfill does not resume operation following the damning revelations made by ABC 4 Corners on Monday, August 7, according to the Mountain Districts Association (MDA).
The MDA’s Dr Stephen Goodwin said that the Association’s latest submission was delivered to the Premier on Friday, August 4.
Dr Goodwin, who featured in the ABC 4 Corners investigation into the NSW waste industry, said the community would not settle for anything less than a Commission of Inquiry.
“They gave one to the greyhound industry, and this issue demands a commission of inquiry because the submission that has gone to the Premier provides strong evidence of the culpability of the EPA and the former Gosford Council for causing the problem.
“They are singularly responsible for causing the problem at Mangrove Mountain.
“Ministers’ opinions are irrelevant.
“We want an announcement from the Premier that she is calling for a Commission of Inquiry into Mangrove Mountain landfill.
“She has to instruct the EPA to take no further action pending a Commission of Inquiry.
“Ms Berejiklian needs to get to the bottom of how a golf course remodelling in the Central Coast’s water catchment area turned into a regional waste facility with a least one million cubic metres of waste and plans to dump another million.
“The 4 Corners program has exposed the inability of the NSW EPA to act in the interests of the Central Coast community to ensure the future safety of our water supply,” Mr Goodwin said.
“The landfill at Mangrove Mountain was allowed to grow by seven times the extent that was approved by the former Gosford Council and the EPA, and no one was watching.
“In fact, Gosford Council was itself transporting waste amounts in excess of its own development consent, from its own facilities to the mountain.
“Thanks to 4 Corners, the community now understands that the former Gosford Council has a poor track record when it comes to legal dumping and waste management,” Mr Goodwin said.
“The landfill at Mangrove Mountain was allowed to grow by seven times the extent that was approved by the former Gosford Council and the EPA, and no one was watching.”
– Stephen Goodwin
“Nobody checked, nobody cared, and then, when the matter was taken to the Land and Environment Court, an agreement was made, behind closed doors, between the landfill operator and the Gosford Council, incredibly, to accept another 1.3 million cubic metres of waste at Mangrove Mountain.
“In its interview with 4 Corners, the EPA failed to tell the truth,” Dr Goodwin said.
“Mr Stephen Beaman implied that a recently-completed independent consultant’s review of the landfill operations had declared no harm done to the Central Coast’s water supply,” he said.
“Mr Beaman failed to mention that the data the EPA based its conclusions on was supplied by another consultant chosen by the landfill operator.
“The EPA has failed, at any time in the history of the landfill, to regulate it adequately.
“In fact, it has shown it is incapable of doing so.
“Now 4 Corners has exposed the parlous state of the whole waste industry in NSW, we have a greater understanding of why the EPA is so eager to get the Mangrove Mountain landfill reopened, even when it is clearly not in the interests of the local environment or the community for it to be reopened.
“The sad history of the Mangrove Mountain landfill is proof that an environmental regulator cannot rely on per tonne licensing revenue and be expected to put the environment and community first.
“The consent given by Gosford Council in 1998 cannot stand,” Mr Goodwin said.
A Section 96 application is made by a developer seeking insignificant changes to a development consent.
Two such Section 96 applications were approved by Gosford Council, but the landfill that is now at Mangrove Mountain is “significantly different” to the project approved by the Council, Dr Goodwin said.
As recently as June, the EPA conducted water testing at the site, but the MDA has been unable to gain access to the complete results of samples taken.
“We are highly critical of the information that came out of GIPA (Freedom of Information Requests) on water sampling results, because there were omissions, for example, results from samples sent for Asbestos testing were not released.”
According to MDA, the presence of the unlined landfill on top of the aquifer and within the Central Coast water catchment represents “a continuing pollution event.
“Council is walking away from its statutory responsibility by not using its powers under the EPA Act to put a stop to the causes of the continuing pollution event.
“An estimated average of three million litres of leachate are escaping the existing waste mound into the water aquifer each year,” Dr Goodwin said.
“It is time for the NSW Premier, Ms Gladys Berejiklian, to answer our calls for a full investigation of how an unlined, poorly regulated, leaching mountain of waste, can be allowed to stay at the top of the Central Coast’s water catchment area.
“Both the EPA and the new Central Coast Council have the legal capacity to put a stop to any future dumping on the mountain and to ensure the site is remediated.
“The community will not settle for less,” Dr Goodwin said.
Media release, Aug 8
Interview, Aug 8
Stephen Goodwin, Mountain Districts Association
Jackie Pearson, journalist