Residents granted an odour-free Christmas

215639_01 Kealba Landfill fire took months to find.

Esther Lauaki

Residents neighbouring the Kealba landfill can expect some relief from the odour over Christmas.

Environment Protection Authority western metropolitan regional manager Stephen Lansdell says the watchdog will require the landfill to be sealed with a layer of earth while work on the hotspots pauses between December 23 and January 11.

“There should also be a reduction in odour between now and the holiday period while excavations concentrate on cold areas that will allow access for the last of the hotspots to be opened and cooled early in the new year,” Mr Lansdell said.

“That final stage will involve some additional odour as the last of the hotspots are opened up, but it should end several months earlier than originally expected, thanks to the successful trial of exposing hot waste to cool overnight,” he said.

EPA officers will inspect the landfill on the last day before work stops for Christmas, to ensure every measure is in place to minimise odour during the temporary shutdown.

The landfill operator, Barro Group, will continue air quality monitoring and community engagement around the project as required by an EPA-issued Clean Up Notice.

“EPA and the community want this fixed as quickly and safely as possible, and the trial of exposing the waste overnight has paid off, saving considerable amounts of time,” Mr Lansdell said

EPA approved the continued use of overnight cooling after discussions with some of the most affected residents, most of whom preferred an earlier finish, despite the periods of increased odour they had experienced during the trial.

The final completion date still depends on how large and hot the waste hotspots are, but the process of excavating and cooling them is clearly working.

“EPA has been working hard to stay in tune with the community and the onsite inspection just before Christmas is another part of the strong regulatory supervision we have placed on the duty holder.”

While odour is clearly still affecting nearby residents, air quality monitoring continues to show there are no issues of health concern.