Landfill is at a critical juncture

Aerial view of leachate pond at Mangrove Mountain landfill

Dr Stephen Goodwin of the Mountain Districts Association (MDA) outlined the community’s expectations at the first meeting of the Mangrove Mountain and Spencer Advisory Committee on January 30.
“There is a broad acknowledgement that the Mangrove Mountain Landfill presents a huge dilemma for Central Coast Council to resolve,” Dr Goodwin said.
“There are many guilty parties behind how this small golf course redevelopment was allowed to grow like topsy, far beyond the development consent, to become a major landfill, with potentially worse to come.
“Gosford City Council shares some of this blame, and Central Coast Council must take on this responsibility.
“It is up to Council to make the decision as to whether to draw a line in the sand and fight or to knuckle under pressure from the landfill owners and let it go ahead.
“We believe it is in Council’s legislative power to stop further development.
“If it does not … the risk to the Central Coast’s water supply will increase enormously.
“There is almost no oversight of this landfill, which is deeply disturbing, as it potentially affects us all.
“This is a critical juncture.
“The landfill site is part of a 40ha parcel of land that was bequeathed to the community by a local returned serviceman to provide a permanent home for the Mangrove Mountain RSL Sub Branch.
“That this land was lost to the community when the golf course and landfill were sold to the landfill operator in 2014 is a sore point, and maybe the subject of an ongoing investigation.”
Dr Goodwin outlined the history of the site from 1991 to the present day.
Over that time, according to Dr Goodwin: “The discrete excavation of 20,000 cubic metres of soil and rock on site has exploded to a massive excavation pit of almost one million cubic metres capacity.
“How this came about is subject to legal privilege, but gives some idea of the difficulties of taking on the operator.
“Take it on though Council must, or give up any semblance of authority to control developments and protect the community from environmental harm,” he said.
Council and the EPA failed to meet their statutory obligations, which resulted in the current problem, according to Dr Goodwin.
“Records show that of the total environmental waste levy of $22.5m collected by the EPA at the site, almost $22m of this was illegally obtained.
Dr Goodwin said the primary goals of the MDA and its reasons for participating in the advisory committee were to eliminate the environmental risk posed by the existing waste mound.
“We recommend that Council liaise with the EPA to undertake feasibility studies for alternative options to achieve this outcome, with costings and a timetable for completion, to ensure the ongoing risk to the integrity of the Central Coast’s water supply is eliminated.”
He called upon Council to prevent “further waste from being brought onto the landfill and golf course site”, and to “review Council practices in handling compliance matters to make sure that issues such as this are not repeated.
“While this may bring short-term pain, we reiterate our call for an Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding this environmental and public health disaster.
“We recommend that Central Coast Council endorse the call for a Special Commission of Inquiry into the operations of the EPA and the former GCC in relation to Mangrove Mountain Landfill.”
He tabled a list of 17 issues which he believed needed to be considered by the committee so that all committee members could be “properly informed”.

Presentation, Jan 30
Stephen Goodwin, Mountain Districts Association