Tasmanian Times


Secrecy on Toxic Dump Questioned. What Southern Waste Solutions says


Tasmania’s community watchdog on toxics issues has serious doubts with the secrecy over the proposed toxic waste dump at Copping.

Jennie Herrera from the Tasmanian Public and Environmental Health Network (TPEHN) today said:

“The Southern Waste Services consortium that want to build this dump has already failed due process with Council discussions on the proposal allegedly happening behind closed doors.”

“The revelations in Poppy Lopatniuk’s recently released book ‘Tomorrow’s Children’, (TT here) have already shown how Clarence Council, one of the consortium members, failed to regulate and monitor the former waste dump at Howrah.”

“Poppy Lopatniuk’s investigation into the serious health concerns and cancer cluster around the old landfill at Howrah has exposed governments’ inability to take the significant and enduring health impacts on the community from toxic waste seriously.”

“Former residents at Howrah were reassured at the time that the Howrah landfill was a controlled tip site but subsequently this was proved incorrect.”

“The EPA and the Public and Environmental Health Service have failed to effectively monitor and investigate public health impacts from numerous known toxic waste sites throughout Tasmania.”

“There are well over 170 unmonitored former landfill sites in Tasmania.”

“The community have a right to know which companies intend to use the toxic dump, how they currently manage their waste and what options are available for disposal.”

“TPEHN is calling on all the Councils involved to publicly release all available information including feasibility studies and environmental impact statements for public scrutiny.”

“Poppy Lopatniuk’s book shows that the community cannot trust the reassurances of public bodies. So why should we trust them with this proposal for Copping, especially when proper consultation has been lacking?”


• What Southern Waste Solutions says: Controlled waste facility at the Copping landfill site

Southern Waste Solutions has held a site visit and media briefing at its Copping landfill facility today,
regarding its proposal to construct a controlled waste disposal cell at the site.

Southern Waste Solutions CEO Christine Bell said should the proposal proceed, waste accepted at
the site would undergo prior-approval by the environmental regulator to ensure it was suitable and
compatible for disposal at the facility.

“Waste at the site will have elevated concentrations of certain metals and elements that occur in our
natural environment,” Ms Bell said.

“The cell will be engineered to world’s best practice and waste will be stored and treated in a way
that ensures it cannot cause harm to the environment though emissions to air, soil or water

Ms Bell said Tasmania was currently the only state in Australia without such a facility.

“This waste is not coming from overseas or interstate, but rather from stockpiles around Tasmania,
being regularly produced by our industries and businesses,” Ms Bell said.

“There is a similar facility within 30km of Melbourne’s CBD and the Copping site is 52km from Hobart
and approximately 2.5km from the nearest house.”

Ms Bell said the site would not be taking any liquids, oils or solvents.

“Nyrstar’s current plans are to ship its jarosite to South Australia for reprocessing and it will not be
coming back to Tasmania,” she said.

Gate fees for the Copping site have not yet been set, as they depend on final construction, close out
and rehabilitation costs, but they are estimated to be in excess of $100 per tonne.

Southern Waste Solutions is a joint authority owned by Clarence, Kingborough, Sorell and Tasman
Councils and has been operating since the Copping site was constructed more than 10 years ago.

• Copping landfill site – Questions and Answers

Who is Southern Waste Solutions?

Southern Waste Solutions is a joint authority owned by Clarence, Kingborough, Sorell and Tasman Councils,
charged with the role of managing the Copping landfill site. Profits generated by the authority are reinvested in
the site or distributed to its owners to assist in the delivery of better services to their municipalities.

How long has Southern Waste Solutions been in operation?

Southern Waste Solutions has been operating since the Copping landfill was constructed more than 10 years ago
on some 765 hectares of land, 52 kilometres east of Hobart.

What standards are set to monitor its operations?

As part of its approval to operate, the site has been subject to regular six monthly independent monitoring since
it was constructed and throughout this period it has never failed to meet or exceed strict environmental
standards. These standards are set by the Environment Protection Authority and considered to be best practice.

What type of waste does the Copping site handle?

The Copping landfill site currently manages Category 1 and Category 2 level waste. This consists of general
household waste; clinical waste treated to general household waste level; and low level contaminated waste
(which can only be accepted upon approval by the Environment Protection Authority) such as contaminated soils
and sludges.

What about ground water contamination?

As part of the regular six-monthly testing of the site, the ground water is also tested. This ground water has
always met or exceeded the standards set by the authorities and in fact has been generally found to be of a
higher standard when it leaves the site, than when it enters it from adjacent properties.

In other words, the controls to protect ground water at the Copping landfill site provide a high level of
protection to ground water and the surrounding environment, including the Carlton River estuary.

What has been proposed?

Southern Waste Solutions has applied for and been given permission to construct a controlled waste facility at
its Copping landfill site.

What is the controlled waste that will be accepted at the facility?

Controlled waste is material that needs additional levels of secure storage beyond what is required in a normal

The proposed facility will be engineered to world’s best practice and the waste will be stored in a manner to
ensure it cannot cause harm to the environment through soil or water contamination.

Under the terms of the permit to operate, no liquid waste will be accepted or placed into the controlled waste

Materials that will be accepted include solids and sludges such as contaminated soil, solid paint waste, building
materials and industrial residues.

All waste material will require prior approval from Environment Protection Authority before it is accepted at the

On arrival waste materials will be immediately unloaded and securely contained and covered within the facility
to ensure no contamination can occur.

What about dust from unloading of waste material?

As part of permit conditions for the transport of controlled waste, all loads must be fully covered and in leakproof
containers. On arrival the material will not be unloaded during high wind or other unfavourable weather

Further permitted engineering controls, such as recirculation of leachate will be used during unloading to ensure
minimal dust is generated as is current practice at the site.

What happens to the waste once it is stored at the facility?

Each load of waste material will be tracked and its GPS coordinates recorded for future reference. Should reuse
or recycling options become available in the future it will be possible to extract the materials for recovery, but
this would be subject to Environmental Protection Authority controls.

The remaining materials will be securely stored in an impermeable barrier, designed to meet world’s best
practice. The barrier will be continually monitored to ensure it is effective in perpetuity.

Why has Copping been selected?

The existing Copping landfill site is recognised as a very well-managed facility with best practice environmental
processes. It is not-for-profit as it is owned by a joint local government authority, made up of Clarence, Sorell,
Tasman and Kingborough Councils.

In addition, the site has an ideal solid rock base upon which the facility will be built. The waste materials are
further enclosed within impermeable barriers. This prevents any impacts occurring into the groundwater or
surface drainages.

How big will the controlled waste cell be?

The Copping landfill site is on some 765 hectares of land and it is anticipated the size of the controlled waste cell
will be some 100 metres wide by 200 metres long. It will be located well above any flood zones, fully security
fenced, with access limited to only authorised individuals.

What about traffic, will there be more trucks?

At maximum we predict that additional truck movements to and from the controlled waste site will be an
average of five trucks a day.

The vehicles used are required to meet Environment Protection Authority requirements, with sealed containers,
covered loads and appropriate spill kits. All drivers are required to meet relevant standards for the transport of
heavy loads.

Why didn’t the community know about this proposal?

While a proposal to better manage controlled waste in Tasmania has been talked about for many years, it was
not until January this year that Southern Waste Solutions lodged a notice of intent with the Department of
Environmental Protection.

In lodging the development application and development proposal and the environmental management plan,
Southern Waste Solutions met all requirements in terms of process. This saw the assessing authorities place
appropriate public notices, issue media statements and background materials on websites to ensure information
was available for those who wished to know more.

In addition, landowners directly adjacent to the Copping site were individually contacted and invited to meet
with Southern Waste Solutions to provide input.

However, we accept that more could have been done to ensure the broader community was aware of the
proposal and have publicly undertaken to do all within our power to ensure all concerns are considered and

Earlier on Tasmanian Times: New evidence Tasmanian EPA is not doing its job

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Kerry Deayton

    July 11, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Mayor Kerry Vincent recently reported that the Copping Landfill site was to be reclassified from rural to utility. The proposal is 20 years old. What prompts the Sorell Council to suddenly reclassify the site? Terror I think. Shame about the lack of consultation and transparency over the duration of the proposal which is now dated and dangerous technology. Credibility and respect for the Sorell, Tasman, Clarence and Kingborough Councils has been irrepairably damaged by each Council’s lack of respect shown to their constituents over this debacle.

  2. Isla MacGregor

    August 28, 2012 at 8:36 pm

    The EPA are incapable of monitoring or policing any polluting company for compliance with regulations, let alone policing polluters.

    Belinda MacIntosh from Lenah Valley exposed just how use/toothless the EPA is. The EPA failed to monitor K&D Brickworks for 19 years.


  3. David Obendorf

    August 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    According to Hobart ABC, the Chief Executive Officer of Southern Waste Management Christine Bell says jarosite will not be dumped at the site. She describes the site as a ‘green facility’.

    So rest assured Copping and Dunalley residents [b]no[/b] jarosite ‘dumped’ at Copping… only world’s best practice disposal in a engineered facility.

    Consultation, open-ness and authenticity should be the take-home lessons for Mr Schaap [EPA] and Ms Bell [SWS] from this experience.

    I urge interested people to listen to Mr Schaap on ABC Statewide Mornings being interviewed by Leon Compton last Friday.

  4. David Obendorf

    August 28, 2012 at 1:40 am

    Paul Reardon, whose property backs on to the Copping tip site, was one of only [b]five[/b] people in the room [of 110] who said they knew about plans to build the 300,000 cubic metre “C-Cell” before a report in the Mercury last Friday.

    Reference: Mercury – 28 August 2012

  5. David Obendorf

    August 28, 2012 at 12:56 am

    Lucy Shannon reporter ABC1 TV News Tuesday 28 August – “Doubts over toxic waste dump.”


    Lucy Shannon: “Copping hazardous waste facility is far from a done deal, Christine Bell spokesperson for Southern Waste Solutions says with the zinc producer, Nyrstar no longer planning to dump 200,000 tonnes of jarosite at the facility the project may not go ahead.”

    Lucy Shannon: “How big a chance is that at the moment?”

    Christine Bell: “Oh… I’d say less than 50 percent.”

    Lucy Shannon: “So it’s not a certainty.”

    Christine Bell: “No, it’s not.”

    Nyrstar says it still has not made a final decision of the jarosite, but will definitely dispose of some waste at Copping.

    Southern Waste Solutions admits it should have consulted more with the community.

  6. David Obendorf

    August 27, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    Notice of Intent was intially advertised (how long ago?) and apparently ‘adjoining landowners’ were notified by mail. Does anyone know how many adjoining landowners were notified?

    It is also useful to listen to the interview with EPA Director, Alex Schaap from ABC radio 936 ‘Statewide Mornings’ last Friday.


    Another useful audio from the proponent’s spokesperson Ms Bell talking to Louise Saunders will probably be up on the ABC radio 936 ‘Drive’ programs website tomorrow.

  7. James

    August 27, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    @#3 Shaun:

    That is far too sensible, get out of here.

  8. Banana Leaf

    August 27, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    #10, I just looked up the legislation, and there are registers kept of producers, agents, transporters, and waste facilities. Also the EPA issues a tracking certificate each time waste is moved. There is also a register kept of every time the EPA director provides an exemption.
    Information on these registers does not appear to be freely available to the public though.

    “22. Director may disclose tracking information

    The Director may disclose to –

    (a) a council; or

    (b) a State Service Agency; or

    (c) a person, or body, authorised under an enactment of another State, a Territory, or the Commonwealth, to carry out law enforcement duties; or

    (d) a person or body of another State, a Territory, or the Commonwealth, that performs functions substantially similar to functions performed by the Director or a State Service Agency –

  9. David Obendorf

    August 27, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    If Nystar’s electrolytic zinc complex that dates back to pre-World War One is now thinking of getting out of Tasmania then a site clean up on the company’s land at Derwent Park and Lutana would need at least a 2 to 3 year time period.

    That would be in line with moving other industrial processing plants out of inner urban areas of Hobart – e.g. the closure of the K&D Brickwooks at Mt Stuart.

    Finding a new dump site for Nystar’s heavy metal waste currently on site [from Stanhope Point through Woodman Point to Rock Cod Point on the Derwent Estuary] and aged nearly 60 to 100 year would be definitely on that agenda.

  10. Mont

    August 27, 2012 at 1:12 am

    Thanks Banana. Do you know the source of the contaminates and why they are produced: I mean is it possible to backtrack by public due-process record that which is being dumped? And is the a register of contaminate producers?

  11. Banana Leaf

    August 25, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    I haven’t made a judgement yet as to what I think about this, but thought since I have a little knowledge about this I would share it.
    You will find information on what constitutes level 3 waste here: http://epa.tas.gov.au/Documents/IB105_Classification_and_Management_of_Contaminated_Soil_Nov_2010.pdf
    Copping currently takes level 2 waste, and level 3 waste is about 10x more contaminated (or leachable) than level 2, but requires further precautions.
    Under these rules, the waste can still contain very high levels of contaminants, but if present in a stable form are judged by the leachability of the contaminants.

  12. Alison Bleaney

    August 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Controlled waste is a nightmare for the Tas Gvt and indeed the non action over the past decades on appropriate waste disposal will continue to cause problems. Rural areas are mostly under the radar as far as ‘best practice’; one only has to look at the disposal of medical waste, the way LG tips handle rubbish tips and controlled waste (‘what do you mean by that exactly’, I was once asked by an employee who had some responsibility for that area ), tip fees and dumping of rubbish in vegetation, rivers etc so it has ‘gone’ and ‘ not seen’.
    A transparent and comprehensive risk assessment of placing a tip of this description in this area needs to be able to be viewed by the general public.
    Dr Alison Bleaney

  13. David Obendorf

    August 25, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Tasmania – the over-hyped “clean, green and clever” State – is now having to deal with another part of its toxic past!

    For decades State Governmetts have turned a very blind eye to the public and environmental health risks associated with liquid and solid toxic wastes that our society produce in increasingly large quantities every year.

    The legacy of uncontrolled disposal of industrial, commercial and household products containing persistent organic chemicals that were freely dumped with domestic household waste into urban and rural tip sites – sites close to waterways and human habitation areas – is now catching up with us. Tasmania’s chronic disease and cancer rates are the highest in the nation.

    The Government and local councils are on notice, and have been for a few decades now, that many of these old waste disposal sites are ticking time-bombs of chemical leachates and toxic metal contamination.

    What you are seeing here at Copping is ‘catch up’ by a rather fearful and under-resourced Environment Protection Authority. It finds itself dealing with that past legacy and present uncontrolled waste disposal processes. But for the EPA it might be all too much for Mr Schaap, Director of the EPA to be too transparent and honest with Tasmanians.

    The great concern for Government is that investgating the 100-plus toxic waste disposal sites around Tasmania will open up a compensation nightmare scenario comparable to the recent compensation fund needed to support Tasmanians who werre physically, psychologically and sexually abused when in State care as children – over decades!

    This secretive process to establish the Copping disposal site is yet another aspect of Tasmania’s Government-controlled toxic past being quietly reburied.

  14. Clive Stott

    August 25, 2012 at 12:31 am

  15. Jim Vonkas

    August 24, 2012 at 11:52 pm

    Railyards development. What to do with the contaminated soil? Well, well, what a coincidence – a proposed hazardous waste dump near Copping! This has got to be the cheapest way out. The authorities talk about preventing seepage and using liners to seal against it. My engineers brain starts ticking.. “totally sealed” means nothing gets out. No oils, acids, no dissolved heavy metal salts, NO RAINWATER! So what happens to the open pit/bathtub when over the years the water level rises from rainfalls? Will it overflow? Where does the overflow go? Maybe they will pump it off. Pumping super-contaminated water to where? It would be much easier if the site leaked into the Carlton River and quietly drained into the ocean.. But I’m only a lowly engineer with limited thinking ability and I don’t believe in miracles.
    Jim Vonkas, West Hobart

  16. june phillips

    August 24, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    I live within 3 kms of the proposed site and my first knowledge was yesterday. After contacting the Sorell Council I was advised that the Environmental Officer was away until Tuesday and no-one was available to answer any questions. I have researched this on the internet and there seems to be many un-anwered questions about secrecy including our local member not being informed even though the notice of intent was submitted on 24th January 2012. Hopefully some-one will answer our concerns tomorrow night at the meeting at Bream Creek showgrounds at 6pm

  17. Shaun

    August 24, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    #1 In the case of Nyrstar, we’re talking about waste which has been sitting there for about 40 years (literally) and is no longer produced.

    There have been many calls for large industries to clean up sites etc over the years. This is precisely what is proposed so I can’t see a reason for anyone to get too upset about it as long as the site itself is suitable.

    What does worry me however is “household” waste. This contains an assortment of carcinogenic materials, neurotoxins and so on. When buried in landfill, it decomposes to methane (a potent greenhouse gas) and also releases other gases. With 3 notable exceptions (Hobart, Glenorchy, Launceston), Tasmanian landfills are poorly managed in this regard with unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions being released.

    All things considered, removing some stockpiled jarosite from Lutana and burying it shouldn’t pose a problem since it’s relatively stable and should simply sit there causing no harm. It’s comprised of materials which either aren’t particularly harmful (eg iron) or which are found in practically every tip in Tasmania anyway. It’s not as though we’re talking about spent fuel rods or used oils or something like that.

    There are issues associated with waste in Tasmania that is certain, but this doesn’t strike me as being one of them as long as the landfill itself is done properly.

  18. Jules F

    August 24, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    On Sunday 26th Aug, 6pm at Bream Creek Show grounds a public meeting is being held to discuss this issue. It will be interesting to see who out of any of the authorities fronts up to answer questions from concerned locals and others …. very interesting. I expect we won’t see any of them! This process has been far from transparent (or at least there is the perception) and appears to have been in the pipeline for a long time. Have a read of the EPA approval and conditions documents found on their website… a very interesting read. I found the language confusing, and contradictory (i.e. the annual dump amounts) and altogether their risk assessing process has left me with a decidely metallic taste (excuse the pun) in my mouth and a sinking feeling in my stomach that this is a complete an utter done deal and no amount of public concern will remedy that.

  19. Pete Godfrey

    August 24, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    It appears that after failing to get a toxic dump at Mangalore, the proposal has been moved on to a new site with a lot more secrecy so as to avoid scrutiny and oppostion.
    TPEHN are being a bit rich talking about Tasmania and “proper consultation” in the same article.
    That is like talking about complicated in the same sentence as the Deputy Premier is mentioned.
    Mangalore had so many problems not the least challenging geology and the fact that it was uphill in water catchments used by locals further downstream. I am sure that Copping will have the same sort of issues.
    Surely it has to come to a time where the people who produce the toxic waste will have to find ways to process the waste themselves.

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