Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Val's load of rubbish, gone!

Mayor Val can tick this one off her list.

She, and her Cairns 1st team, loudly protested about the problems with the Portsmith refuse landfill. It's proximity to Trinity Inlet, raised serious concerns about toxins and poisons leaching into our local recreational fishing corridor.

“The Portsmith landfill was meant to be rehabilitated as park lands once the Bedminster composting plant was up and running,” Val Schier said last January in the lead up to her election bid.

Today the Cairns Regional Council unanimously decided to close the Portsmith tip, once and for all. By the 30th July the facility will be no more. However, the Bedminster recycling unit and sewage treatment plant, will continue to operate on the site. The grumpy Council worker at the tip's reception booth, will also go.

The extensive landfill, used for nearly 40 years, will be rehabilitated, commencing immiatley. Council, who lease the land from the State Government, will seal the area with clay, and then grass and vegetate the land with trees.

Richie Bates, who ran for Council's Division 5 for Cairns 1st, was also scathing of the continued operation. “CEC/Sita purchased the composting plant two years ago for $5 million with a contract determined in a closed session of Council and an embargo on the contract for three years," he said at the time.

Bates said that untreated household waste had continued to be dumped at the Portsmith landfill despite areas being closed for many years because of suspected toxic leaching. The EPA have known the tip has had problems and posed serious concerned for years.

The former Cairns City Council finally acknowledged there were issues about the dump's environmental problems. "While there is still no easy solution for the disposal of waste in this city," Richie Bates said at the time, "This should never have been the reason for previous term councillors and bureaucrats to deny the existence of a significant ecological hazard."

Major seasonal rainfall over the last three months has caused minor environmental incidents. "This has highlighted the need to bring the life of the Portsmith landfill to a close," Val Schier said.

Speaking of support of the closure, Council CEO Noel Briggs pointed out that Tablelands waste trucks that travel to Portsmith to deliver waste to the recycling plant, often return with an empty truck. "This will be a good use of these vehicles to return full," he told today's Council meeting.

As a gracious final act, Noel is expected to use the Portsmith landfill, before it closes, to dispose of his now buried Code of Conduct report against Councillor Forsyth.

Everything that was not able to be recycled, was dumped in the Portsmith landfill.

The large landfill east of Mareeba, will be the new recipient of Cairns' waste, come mid-year.

"One of the big problems with the current tip at Portsmith, as our population has grown and housing spread, is the smell," says Councillor Robert Pyne. "As a Mt Sheridan resident and representing many affected residents, I'm very happy that we have decided to close this place and make the area nice."

The smell and odour has been a constant problem for Southside residents for years, so this will be a welcome decision. Although some of this smell was generated by the Bedminster system, upgrades currently in progress, will almost entirely eliminate this by July.

The downside, or upside as it will be, is that at least 20 trucks a day will be transporting waste from Cairns to the new Tablelands tip. This posses huge problems for users of the primary Kuranda Range access. It is tipped that Queensland Rail should look at utilising wagons to move the waste via their network. However chair of the Water and Waste Committee, Councillor Paul Gregory believes it will only be around eight truckloads a day heading to Mareeba.

"The Bedminister Plant diverts approximately 60% of kerbside waste away from landfill, dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emission released when organic landfill material rots," Paul Gregory says. "This places [our] Council in front of most regional cities in Australia with regard to reducing impacts on climate change from core activities."

And what will happen to the revitalised land? It's possible to become open space or a sporting field. Maybe the State Government could relocate it's row of high rises to the restored landfill, that they had planned for the waterfront, where the gracious old Yacht Club once stood. Just a thought.

2 comments:

Syd Walker said...

Bad enough to truck solid waste from the consumer society mainly centered around Cairns to to the top of the catchment and dump it there in a lined pit.

But to hammer the Range Road with yet more big trucks would be the ultimate disgrace. And no, we shouldn't even dream of building a 4-Lane Highway through World Heritage to make rubbish transport easier.

It's time to put the existing rail line work. I train per day should do the job. Tunnels not high enough? Use lower containers.

No more excuses and no more trucks on the Range!

Casey Jones said...

Spot on Syd!
Rail runs right past Portsmith dump and all the way to Mareeba and beyond.
Great to hear Steve Wettenhall supporting this idea as well.