Sunday, August 11, 2013

One simple way to get the community and ratepayers offside.

The photo below shows the area which is currently the subject of deep emotion and distress to the people of the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria Australia. It's a disused quarry site nestled between arms of the Arthurs Seat State Park, organic farms and businesses, homes and schools.

In the background it's just possible to see a sliver of water which is part of Port Phillip Bay. Behind the hill, flourishing in the bay are mussel farms and the magnificent beaches are safe with little pollution. The bay is home to pods of dolphins and is occasionally visited by migrating whales. The state park is a sanctuary for eagles, owls, koalas, bandicoots and rare or threatened plant species.

In short it's a special place, but the Mornington council and the Ross Trust who owns the Pioneer Quarry site have decided this is the place for a tip with no recycling facilities. The proposed tip "would be servicing mainly other regions. At current figures, approximately 70% of the 150.000 tonnes annually would be coming from outside the Mornington Peninsula." (SaveArthursSeat)

The logic appears to be "It's a hole in the ground. Let's fill it up with unfiltered, un-recycled garbage and make this dumping ground available to businesses outside the Shire. What a good idea!"
photo - Melanie Cameron
Anyone would be excused for assuming that the Ross Trust isn't involved or interested in the environment. They'd be wrong. 

The following information comes from the RE Ross Trust website. 
The Trust will direct resources towards projects that will ...  "Protect and preserve Australian flora and fauna". It seems contradictory that a trust which actively supports environmental programs would not undertake to protect the Pioneeer Quarry site and surrounding areas including the creek which runs directly into Port Phillip Bay.

The Save Arthurs Seat community group have been working tirelessly to ensure that best practice guidelines are met:

The protection of environment and public health in waste management delivery is non-negotiable (State Government Vic)
“Encourage, promote and develop ecologically sustainable waste management” (Mornington Peninsula Regional Waste Management Group)
“Today’s landfills must not leave an unacceptable environmental legacy for our children to address” (EPA Vic)
The following is an open letter written by Francois Schamberger regarding his opposition to the proposal. (Edited and formatted for ease of reading)
The Proposed Landfill at the former Pioneer Quarry Site 

There are many very serious concerns about this project which we are going to come to light over the coming weeks. 

Tip Liners

The first one is about the liner for the proposed landfill. All manufacturer of liners stress the limited performance of their liners and clearly state that no warranty as to their performance is ever implied. When the bottom liner fails, leachate migrates directly into the environment. All reports ever written by environmental protection agencies on the performance of landfill, state that all liners being made out of clay, plastic, and composite will have some leaks. Even the most up-to-date and elaborate ones (compacted clay with a minimum required thickness and a maximum allowable hydraulic conductivity, overlaid by a 2mm high-density polyethylene geomembrane) do not pass the 10 year test. 

All liners will have some leaks, due to their limited performance parameters, and their degradation is usually the result of insufficient tensile strength, tear resistance, impact resistance, puncture resistance, and susceptibility to environmental stress cracking. 

The role of discarded household chemicals

Quite a number of common household chemicals will also degrade them. The United States Environmental Protection Agency has stated that all barriers "will ultimately fail," while the site remains a threat for "thousands of years”, suggesting that even the most modern, up-to-date landfill designs delay, but do not prevent ground and surface water pollution. 

Location - in a water catchment area

Let’s not forget that the proposed site is at the bottom of a substantial water catchment area and within a very short time the leachate, and its toxic constituents, would flow into the underlying aquifers, the nearby creek and into Port Phillip Bay. 

If this proposal goes ahead, it will be undeniable: the legacy of the Ross Trust will be that of a polluted Bay, creek and groundwater for hundreds of years. 

How are we going to explain to our children and grandchildren that the beach is closed, the creek fenced off, the groundwater polluted and The Ross Trust and Mornington Shire Council were part of that lunacy? 

From the R E Trust website we know that "Mr Ross was a keen bushman, had an extensive knowledge of native plants and trees and made a study of the habits of birds and their calls."  We can only imagine what Mr R E Ross would say to his Trustees: “You are fired, you are destroying my legacy."  

Technical Reports

The quality of the technical reports and analysis so far, tabled by the proponents of the landfill is very disappointing - notable for their omissions, their unsuitable comparisons which are very generalist, almost direct copies of reports compiled for other landfill sites. 

I would like to draw your attention to Mr Latham’s statement that “they are very keen to consult the community on the project.” 

“Keen to consult” No! Just a slap in our face. For 5 years the council and Ross Trust have been secretly planning to turn the quarry into a tip and now they want to establish a Community Reference Group, chosen strictly by them, to advise them how the project could work better. 

Another statement which merits our attention was made by Mr Maltby, The Peninsula Waste Manager “Mr Maltby predicted shire residents would see an extra $100 on their rates bill each year if the shire had to send waste out of the area.” To make such a statement, you would expect somebody in such a position of authority to have the figures on hand to back his claims. So Mr Maltby please can we see those figures? If you do not produce them, we can only conclude that it was a cheap self serving quote, totally inappropriate for a person in your position. 

So now for my predictions and I am very happy to back them up. 

The proposed landfill is going to cost the residents a lot more than if the waste would be send out of the area; 

Why ? 

1. The proposed landfill is going to be operated by a private company which wants to make a profit (unlike now, Shire operated for the benefit of the residents) 

2. The proposed landfill is going to be in the top 5% cost bracket. 

3. The proposed landfill is going to be viable only if it becomes a regional landfill for the Bayside and Southern Councils. Peninsula Link would see hundreds of rubbish trucks making their way down the Peninsula every day

What horrifies me the most, is to see the incestuous relationship between our Council and a private company - a council which has already factored in the proposed tip (since 2009) as a fait accompli, even well before the proposal has been lodged. A council which would accept any tipping charges Peninsula Waste would demand. A council also prepared to accept the private company’s reports as their own, by-passing the need to get independent expert reports. A council putting the wishes of a private entity well before their residents and ratepayers. 

If the Councillors have any decency they would resign now - if not, the Victorian Government should dissolve the Shire of Mornington Peninsula Council and appoint an administrator, as the Council is failing the simplest test of impartiality and decency. United we stand, to stop the biggest threat ever to our environment, to our beautiful Mornington Peninsula and to our cherished Arthurs Seat. 


Francois Schamberger.
It's cold comfort that "As a wholly owned subsidiary of the R E Ross Trust, 100% of the profits of Peninsula Waste Management will be distributed to community organisations through the Trust’s GRANTING STRATEGY." Loss of environment will remain lost, not just for this generation, but will be a toxic legacy for future generations as well, and no grant can fairly balance that out.

For detailed information regarding the poor location, lack of recycling facilities and outdated "technology" with the proposed tip see the Frequently asked Questions at Save Arthurs Seat

The Story of Stuff:The Story of Electronics, why designed for the dump is toxic for people and the planet - as it relates to the proposed tip site

On the contradictions in waste 'management' and being a transition town, "sustainable" and a UNESCO biosphere reserve.



1 comment:

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sue .. I saw your previous post - commented and then Chrome bombed me out ...

We are damaging the environment so much - it is frightening ... with complete lack of thought apparently

I've read a few things recently that worry me hugely -

I really need to contribute more - and hope that I can (in due course) free some time .. now I need to concentrate on my personal future ..

Glad you're posting these and I do hope they get picked up ..

Cheers Hilary