10 May 2021

Bungonia and Tarago residents kick up a stink over waste-to-electricity incinerators

| Hannah Sparks
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Artist's impression of Advanced Energy Recovery Centre in Tarago

An artist’s impression of the proposed Advanced Energy Recovery Centre upon completion in Tarago. Image: Veolia.

Residents opposing waste-to-energy facilities in the regional villages of Tarago and Bungonia, near Goulburn, say they shouldn’t be dumped with Sydney’s rubbish.

The proposed $600 million facilities will be capable of burning 710,000 tonnes of waste sourced locally, and from Sydney and Canberra, each year. That’s enough to fill more than 300 Olympic-size swimming pools.

Jerrara Power intends to build its facility on Jerrara Road, in Bungonia, within five years, while Veolia plans to build its facility near its existing Woodlawn Bioreactor in Tarago, also within five years.

Both are considered state significant developments and will be determined by the NSW Independent Planning Commission, which residents fear will make them harder to oppose.

The energy companies, which will financially benefit from their proposals, say the facilities are a win for the environment, diverting waste not suitable for recycling from landfill and creating clean electricity by burning it.

Diagram of Advanced Energy Recovery Centre in Tarago

A diagram of the proposed Advanced Energy Recovery Centre in Tarago. Image: Veolia.

The system works by using steam created from burning waste to drive a turbine connected to a generator. Jerrara Power and Veolia expect electricity created by these facilities to power about 93,000 homes.

However, local residents are worried about the impact on air quality and human health.

“Incineration is the dirtiest and cheapest in dollar value, yet most expensive in human and environmental health impacts,” said Danielle Marsden-Ballard, a social and environmental scientist, and Goulburn district property owner.

“The superfine toxins and particulate matter still travel to Goulburn, the Southern Highlands and beyond when the winds are right.”

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Complaints about the smell from the Woodlawn Bioreactor in Tarago are already common. There were 21 complaints between January and April 2021 alone about a stench like ‘old garbage’ coming from the site.

Veolia said the new waste-to-energy facility in Tarago will be enclosed to contain and manage the odour. However, gases from the burnt waste will still be released into the air through a chimney.

Jerrara Power’s facility in Bungonia will also release gases via a chimney, and only the delivered waste and remaining ash will be enclosed.

Artist’s impression of energy-to-waste facility at East Rockingham in Western Australia

An artist’s rendering of an energy-from-waste facility under construction at East Rockingham in Western Australia. The Jerrara Power facility at Bungonia would be a similar design. Image: Jerrara Power.

Village residents are also concerned about an increase in trucks on their local roads.

“I’m most annoyed about the wear and tear on our local roads caused by the trucks, the danger of big trucks, and the fact the rubbish is coming from Sydney,” said Bel Agren, from Tallong, near Bungonia. “If it is meant to be a greener option, then surely the fact they are trucking it hours away offsets that? Why don’t they burn it up there?”

Jerrara Power has begun consulting Bungonia residents while it works through the possible environmental, economic and social impacts of its proposal.

Bungonia residents within a few kilometres of the proposal site should have received a letter from the privately owned Australian company’s managing director, Chris Berkefeld, about a face-to-face meeting.

Bungonia, Marulan and Goulburn communities are also invited to register for community workshops to provide input into Jerrara Power’s proposal.

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The first of the community workshops are on 11 May, 12 May and 15 May in Bungonia and Marulan. People can register online here, by calling Jerrara Power toll-free on 1800 519 542 or emailing [email protected].

Veolia held an open day on 18 April and is seeking feedback from community leaders, including Goulburn Mulwaree Council, about its plan for the Advanced Energy Recovery Centre in Tarago before creating a development application.

In the meantime, Tarago and Bungonia residents have begun writing to their state member, Wendy Tuckerman, and federal member and Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor.

They have also created action groups and started a petition to stop the Jerrara Power proposal, which had 318 signatures on Wednesday, 5 May.

More information is available on the Residents Against the Tarago Incinerator and Bungonia Action for Clean Air Facebook pages.

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GreenH24U is the ONLY answer. The residents will CERTAINLY agree!!!

peter Mavraganis12:57 pm 16 Oct 21

I am a Collector resident shocked by the proposal that fallout will contaminate my drinking water I already have to put up with the stink from their so called bioreactor and the noise from the wind farm from the opposite direction. I will fight this proposal like my life depends on it.

Melissa Noonan9:23 am 15 Aug 21

I can not believe as we advance as a human race and see the impact of our overconsumption, that our government leaders would consider reverting back to old industrial revolution ways like incinerating our waste thus polluting our environment. This proposal is astounding given our environmental projections of floods, fires and catastrophic weather events as our planet warms due to corporate greed, thoughtless overconsumption and very little avenues for recyclable products.
The State Government should instead put $600 million into creating a sustainable manufacturing model for business, recyclable goods and services and lessening our impact on earth, considering targets of lessening our footprints and our waste. If we listen, NOT to corporate greed but instead elders of bioscientist the answers are clear and transporting Sydney & Canberra’s wastes 170km to pristine townships and polluting these environments with lead sulphur and mercury is not an option for sustainable targets and environmentally conscious progression of our communities.
I urge you strongly to reconsider this plan for the future of these communities. If it was environmentally inadequate for Eastern Creek what would make it any acceptable in any other community. Stop wasting NSW tax dollar on such incompetent plans and look further afield seeking knowledge NOT from corporate businesses who profit but from elders who have knowledge: traditional people of our land and bioscientist. Even listen our youth who are starting to plead with government decision on climate change, forfeiting education at school so that they could be heard by striking to consider their future and what the generations before them are bequeathing in terms of the enormity of unsustainably and the impact on our biosphere our environment. It is clear, we have to make change and this waste plan is not progressive in the direction that society is seeking our leaders to consider in terms of environmental impact and thus our future.
Melissa Noonan

If it exudes clean air, why isn’t it closer to Sydney.
It doesn’t need much land around it if it’s so clean. And there are plenty of huge blocks near Camden and Picton.

Arnold McLean7:52 pm 17 May 21

There is already a truck driver shortage in NSW and Australia. The delivery of waste by road from either Sydney and Canberra will involve a large number of truck movements exacerbating demands on heavy combination truck driver resources. For economic haulage full bin height (4.3 m) quad axled B double units or quad axled A doubles will be required. The density of heavy vehicles on the Hume highway is already excessive. Should theses high productivity vehicles be used they should pass through the loading and unstations forward direction only. The artistic rendering of the plant only depicts tri axled semi trailers units not the state of the art high productivity vehicles which will be required.
Since the waste is collected local using typically 6 x 2 garbage compactors these local collection vehicle should attend a local collection site within the Sydney metro where the waste to energy plant should be built. Waste heat from the plant should be utilised to assist produce recycled cardboard in an adjacent plant. The waste is generated within the metro area so that’s where is should be converted to energy and the waste heat fully utilised.

High temperature incineration to generate power is the way of the future for waste management. To capture the CO2 from the flue, is it possible to run the flue waste through an algal/diatom slurry to remove the CO2 and harvest the algae for bio fuel for the trucks?

I’m sure the experts will tell us how clean these things are and how there is no risk. If that’s the case then it would make more sense to build smaller ones closer to the source. Every council could have one. They could reinstate the old incinerators in Sydney, several of them exquisitely designed my Marion & Walter Burley Griffin. If they don’t want these things in their backyard, then they shouldn’t be dumped in someone else’s.

John Bartholomew8:57 pm 24 May 21

Sydney’s waste incinerators were all closed because they were cancer factories that caused terrible sicknesses and slow deaths for their surrounding communities over decades. Burning waste sounds tempting for the cash strapped Sydney councils that were forced to amalgamate and are now millions of dollars in debt ad a result, but the waste solution that seems cheap up.front is very expensive in terms of human suffering and the insoluble problem of where to store millions of tonnes of needlessly poisoned ash in the medium to long term. A sensible waste reduction program, combined with better sorting, reuse and recycling schemes, would be far cheaper and better job generators to boot. Not to mention safer and better neighbours.

I have noticed with some regret that our local council (the QPRC) has been shipping waste timber deposited at the council dumps to the Veolia Woodlawn facility. Much of this timber (and other “waste”)originates from the construction industry and a good proportion of it is eminently re-useable for home building and maintenance projects. I, and other residents of Bungendore (where I live)utilised this source of good building material – or sometimes fire wood-over many years until the Council started sending it all to Veolia.
I presumed that it went into the bioreactor, but now I think that they may be stock piling the timber as future fuel for the new incinerator.
This is a significant loss to myself and others, and I am perplexed at the QPRC decision to countenance this state of affairs. Certainly they would defend themselves with some sort of “public interest” argument, but I will not buy that.

Thank you, and regards.
Bob Angel
Mountain Road, Bungendore
02 6238 1561

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