Landfill leachate holding-sediment ponds built outside licensed area

Another view of leachate ponds at the existing Mangrove Mountain landfill site

A leachate holding pond and three sediment ponds were located outside the licensed area of the Mangrove Mountain Landfill, according to the Mountain Districts Association (MDA).

MDA spokesperson, Stephen Goodwin, said: “We were stunned to discover recently that since being built in 2008- 09, the leachate and sediment ponds are outside the Mangrove Mountain Landfill area licenced by Environment Protection Licence (EPL) 11395, and so far, no documentation authorising their construction has been found. “The community is demanding an explanation from the EPA as to how this could have happened.”

“We were able to demonstrate that the Easting/ Northing coordinates for the north eastern boundary of the area regulated by EPL 11395, exclude the area occupied by the four pollution control ponds,” he said. “This matter has been brought to the attention of the EPA who have agreed with our contention and have agreed to investigate it. “This may take some time, as the records are all hard copy in EPA archives, and not in computer files.

“It adds further weight to our call for a Special Commission of Inquiry to fully examine the statutory failings of the EPA and Gosford City Council in relation to the landfill. “This goes way beyond the Environment Minister’s recent ill-advised statement that the future of the landfill was for the Land and Environment Court (LEC) to determine, because the reality is that this is outside the terms of the court case.” Mangrove Mountain Landfill sits in the Central Coast water catchment and represents a potentially serious threat to the safety of the Kulnura and Mangrove Mountain groundwater aquifer and the region’s drinking water, which it supplies, according to the MDA.

“This fact is not disputed by the EPA, the State environmental regulator, so how could it have allowed this situation to run for so long? “Presently, the matter of the licence renewal is in the LEC, where the landfill operator, Verde Terra Pty Ltd, is attempting to get EPL 11395 varied, to allow it to resume the importation of new waste. “Previously, in a separate action in the LEC in 2014, brought by the former Gosford City Council, the Court ordered a further 1.3 million cubic metres of waste to be deposited at the Mangrove Mountain landfill site, but this is yet to happen. “In effect, the EPA has given tacit approval to the landfill operator to pollute Mangrove Mountain golf course and the adjacent Jilliby Conservation Reserve, which collects overland runoff from the site and channels it into Ourimbah Creek,” Goodwin said.

“Central Coast Council pumps water out of Ourimbah Creek into Mardi Dam, one of two water storage dams for Central Coast residents. “What does this mean for the safe operation of the site? “It seems to us that the EPA presently has no jurisdiction over this pollution control infrastructure at Mangrove Mountain landfill and that is a totally unacceptable situation. “It would appear that Central Coast Council is the only regulatory authority at the site with any influence on the pollution controls. “MDA calls on Council to step in immediately to bring some order back to this matter. “In particular, MDA calls on Council to take samples from the leachate holding pond and the three stormwater retention ponds as a matter of urgency, to analyse for toxic contaminants and sedimentation loads.

“Verde Terra is currently spraying the contents of these pollution control ponds around the site and onto the north eastern area of the golf course, so there is an urgency for an investigation of pollutants and sedimentation. “Any leachate in the leachate holding pond that is at, or above, the freeboard level, must be tankered off-site to a licensed treatment facility and a record kept. “Is this happening?” Coast Community News has contacted both the EPA and Central Coast Council regarding this issue. “The EPA is aware of allegations that the sediment and leachate ponds are not within the licensed area,” the EPA said in a written statement.

“We are conducting a review of the information relating to this matter to determine whether any action is needed. “The EPA inspected the ponds earlier this month and is not aware of any current environmental risks. “We are taking the allegation seriously and will make a decision on future action when the review is complete.” Council’s response was not provided by the time we went to press but will be published in the next available edition. Coast Community News also contacted Verde Terra, trading as Central Mangrove Waste, and the phone was unanswered.

Source: Media release, Oct 24 Stephen Goodwin, Mountain Districts Association Media statement, Oct 24 EPA media Jackie Pearson, journalist

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