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Eurobodalla Council strikes deal with NSW government to clear bushfire rubbish, asbestos

Genevieve Jacobs 4 March 2020
landfill cell at the Brou waste facility

A new landfill cell at the Brou waste facility. Photo: Eurobodalla Shire Council.

Eurobodalla Council says it’s struck a deal with the NSW government to deal with rubbish leftover from the fires.

The plans will enable asbestos-contaminated material to be moved from residential areas and the contractors say they expect most of the work to be complete by June.

Tips were closed by the bushfire crisis and in the aftermath, Council was faced with major challenges over their capacity to deal with contaminated material and huge volumes of waste. It’s estimated that the volume of fire rubbish is equivalent to seven years of normal usage.

The agreement means waste contractors can dump fire-affected waste at three tips, which will be managed and operated by NSW Government contractors for the duration of the clean-up. The Shire’s smallest waste transfer station at Moruya remains closed but will re-open in several weeks as part of the agreement.

Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes welcomed the deal but says the situation since the fire crisis passed has been frustrating.

“Council first presented a solution five weeks ago. I thank our staff for persevering to get this across the line. Fire-affected residents don’t need more delays”, she said.

“I urge the NSW Government to act quickly and bring in the machinery and contractors needed so we can really get this clean-up moving.”

Contractors Laing O’Rourke will handle the government-funded clean up after Council helped them to trial waste disposal at local tips.

Brou landfill, located off the highway between Bodalla and Narooma, will be used to dispose of Eurobodalla’s asbestos-contaminated clean-up waste. Air monitoring, vehicle wash down facilities and specialist staff, plant and equipment are part of the deal.

At Surf Beach tip near Batemans Bay, permission for a three-metre high overtop will create an additional 100,000 cubic metres of landfill, or the equivalent of four years’ capacity under normal circumstances.

Some asbestos demolition waste could also be accepted in the second landfill at Surf Beach if required, and only once the fire-damaged cell has been repaired. The NSW Government will also establish and operate a waste transfer and recycling depot for non-contaminated bricks and concrete at the adjacent Surf Beach quarry.

Council’s director of planning Lindsay Usher says the arrangement allows the bushfire clean up to take place efficiently while making sure the community’s regular waste management needs can be met in the coming years.

“The sheer volume of bushfire demolition waste would deprive Eurobodalla of long-term waste-management capacity. We expect to receive seven years’ worth of waste in four months,” he said.

“The extra capacity the NSW Government has made available at Surf Beach addresses this for now, however, volumes will be monitored closely and if the amount of waste looks like exceeding agreed site capacities, the deal allows excess to be taken to approved sites outside the shire.”

Green waste and scrap metal will be recycled at Moruya when it reopens within the next few weeks. Council staff will continue to manage Surf Beach landfill for non-bushfire waste and assist contractors at Brou and Moruya.

Residents can continue to use Brou and Surf Beach tips normally for now. Council says it’s important to note that demolition waste is currently only being accepted from Laing O’Rourke approved contractors as part of the NSW Public Works Authority trial.

Mr Usher acknowledged community cooperation will be important while the clean-up is underway. “There are still things we don’t know and its possible visiting the tip might not be as convenient as usual while we help fire-impacted residents get their properties cleaned up. As soon as we have more details, we’ll let the community know.”

Council staff will continue to manage Surf Beach landfill for non-bushfire waste and assist contractors at Brou and Moruya for the duration of the government clean-up.

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