Odour report confusion deepens

Odour report confusion deepens

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The Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale has failed to make clear if or when an odour report concerning Oakford composting facility Bio-Organics was sent to the company and the Department of Environment Regulation (DER).

Bio-Organics’ closure last year has been the subject of an ongoing parliamentary inquiry since March.

In the latest hearing on September 23 Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale health and building manager Tony Turner said the shire had produced an odour report in 2013 following complaints from residents, before forwarding it on to the DER.

Odour diaries kept by Oakford residents over May, June and July 2013 as well as field odour assessments were used in the report.

The DER denied receiving the report last month and this week Bio-Organics director Ben Avila said the shire also failed to pass the report on to his company until the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) issued an order in 2014.

“Bio-Organics can confirm that it, also, did not receive the odour diaries mentioned by Tony Turner until an order was placed on the shire some nine months after the alleged odour events occurred,” he said.

“In dealing with community complaints in such a way, operations such as Bio-Organics are simply unable to investigate, assist or take action on a complaint should it occur.

“Upon reluctant handover of three odour diaries, Bio-Organics provided them to an independent air quality expert for examination.”

He said by examining historic Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) data the odour expert’s findings concluded that the absolute majority of diary entries were invalid. “It is reasonable to conclude that this may have been the reason why odour diaries were withheld,” he said.

Bio-Organics commissioned the independent assessment in March this year as part of SAT proceedings.

The report by Atmospheric Solutions found 81 of the 142 odour complaints were invalid.

Thirty-seven were found to be possible and 24 were found to be plausible.

This week Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale chief executive Richard Gorbunow said shire records indicated that ‘information’ regarding odour was turned over to Bio-Organics and the DER but could not confirm when this was.

“As part of the shire’s odour assessments over a period of time shire officers regularly communicated with DER officers at the Booragoon office,” he said.

“Details from field assessments and diaries were provided as part of these communications and the shire wrote to the DER licensing branch on May 14, 2013 with a complaint regarding odour and contamination of ground and rainwater.

“In this correspondence to the regional manager the shire offered odour study details and requested assistance and details of the DER’s field odour assessment to assist the overall investigation of odour impacts.”

Mr Gorbunow said the odour report provided to the parliamentary inquiry was the final version of the shire’s odour report, which included the BOM weather data requested by panel members at the SAT hearing.

When asked about the validity of the report compiled from the odour diaries Mr Gorbunow said BOM data showed that more than 75 per cent of the entries were downwind from Bio-Organics.

“The shire’s odour consultant and expert witness at the SAT hearing confirmed the significance of the odour issue and concurred with the odour report, the resident’s odour diaries and shire officer’s field odour testing.”