Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) acknowledges there is an ongoing issue for the community of Miners Rest regarding odour. Since November 2018 there have been over 700 community reports of offensive odour from the Miners Rest area.
Three Pollution Abatement Notices (PANs) have been issued to date. The current PAN, issued on 3 December 2019, requires that CVLX provide to EPA by 20 April 2020:
- a report specifying how the use of the premises as a saleyards will be modified or controlled so it does not cause pollution, namely; changing the condition of the atmosphere so as to make, or be reasonably expected to make, the atmosphere offensive to the senses of human beings at residential receptors in Miners Rest
- the report must consider odour abatement measures, including, but not limited to:
- 3.1.1 Roofed structures covering all sheep yards at the premises so that they remain dry;
- 3.1.2 Modification of animal housing facilities that enable more efficient cleaning and minimise exposure to the weather.
This means CVLX need to investigate abatement methods, including consideration of a roof over all or part of the existing facility. It does not require them to build a roof.
The notice is due for compliance on 20 April 2020.
The previous PANs, issued in November 2018 and May 2019, requiring improvements in cleaning methods and an update of modelling, have made some progress towards reducing odour.
Most commonly asked questions
How does EPA investigate odour complaints?
EPA prioritises its response to odour investigations according to:
- the severity of the odour being reported
- the likelihood of making a positive verification of the odour source
- the number of reports received from sensitive land use areas, and
- the availability of EPA officers.
The term 'sensitive land uses' encompasses land uses which require a particular focus on protecting the beneficial uses of the air environment relating to human health and wellbeing, local amenity and aesthetic enjoyment. These are typically residential locations.
Odour being smelt in non-sensitive land use areas, such as roadways next to the premises or on the site itself, are not within the scope of EPA investigations.
What is EPA doing in response to the reports of pollution?
EPA are continuing to conduct odour monitoring in varied weather conditions. This provides evidence if required, to enact our compliance and enforcement policy.
We will continue to visit the site to assess practices, make recommendations and, where necessary, require improvements.
We had a waste water expert attend the site and review practices in 2019. The conclusion was that the wastewater treatment system was unlikely to be a significant contributor to off-site odour.
During the approval process, the planning panel recommended that EPA adopt an assessment criteria of one odour unit at the boundary. Why has odour been smelled offsite?
Odour units (OU) are a scientific method of describing the concentration of an odour under laboratory conditions. 1 OU is a level at which 50% of people with an average sense of smell will be able to identify the presence of the odour when compared to zero air. Odour units are commonly used in the assessment of proposals, but do not apply with respect to compliance.
Modelling of odour is based on fixed sources of odour. For example, exhaust stacks. For this reason, live animals are not able to be accurately assessed by modelling, as it is not possible to determine odour emission rates from animals with any accuracy.
For ongoing operations, EPA uses the offensiveness of the odour to inform actions. The offensiveness is assessed by EPA authorised officers, and informed and supported by community reports and descriptions.
Is EPA able to close the saleyards based on community odour reports?
EPA does not have regulatory power to close the saleyards, however we do have power to require action to be taken to reduce odour emissions.
Saleyards do not require a licence from EPA under the Environment Protection (Scheduled Premises and Exemptions) Regulations.
The City of Ballarat have legislative oversight of the planning permit and conditions associated with the planning permit.
How can I report odour, or get more information?
We encourage residents to continue reporting to EPA if they are impacted by odour by calling 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC). This helps us establish trends and assess the odour behaviour under different conditions.
CVLX have established a feedback hotline for reporting issues directly to the company. Community can report directly to: