The Red Hill Road Tip was forced to close for almost 24 hours on Tuesday after a load of hazardous farm chemicals and broken asbestos was illegally dumped at the site.
The council was alerted to the situation when the tip plant operator and environmental health officer were working down at the tip face on Tuesday morning, and they detected a strong chemical smell, which increased every time the wind changed.
They also began to feel nauseous.
Council’s planning, environment and strategic services director Craig Filmer said council had to undertake their pollution incident protocol, which involved closing the tip at 9.50am that morning and notifying Triple 0 and also the Enviromental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Young hazmat team – Young Fire and Rescue NSW – attended the site, suited up and took photos.
The photos were sent to the Fire and Rescue head office for assessment, who soon identified the chemicals as farm chemicals such as roundup, sheep dip and sheep drench and various herbicides.
Council staff also found broken asbestos in the load among the mixed rubbish that concealed the chemicals.
“Being the last load of the day on Monday, nobody was down there,” Mr Filmer said.
“We will now do some research, look at the receipt and determine what fine is due [which could be as much as $750 or more].”
Mr Filmer said the site was handed back into council’s care Tuesday afternoon because the chemicals “were not toxic but required special handling”.
However because they couldn’t obtain the necessary equipment needed to relocate the substances safely, the tip remained closed for the rest of the day.
“We moved the chemicals safely to a remote location and secured them at the top tip (Victoria Street Tip) until they can be disposed of during our next hazardous material collection day,” Mr Filmer said.
“We have one every one to two years and it’s done regionally.”
Mr Filmer said the biggest thing the community had to understand was the Red Hill Road Tip is an inert tip, which means it only holds builders rubbish and waste, and solid large items.
“It is definitely not for household rubbish, green waste and absolutely not for chemicals,” he said.
“All of this has come about because someone has done a clean up, and done the dodgy and hidden chemicals.
“Council has had to approach the situation a certain way as a result. The good thing is it wasn’t toxic old chemicals but the potential exists, that’s why we’re storing it in a secure location and it will be disposed of [properly].”
Mr Filmer also reiterated that “no asbestos of any sort” is to go to the Red Hill Tip. He urged people to call the depot on 6382 2980 at least 24 hours before disposing asbestos.
Council’s general manager Peter Vlatko also emphasised how inappropriate and dangerous dumping chemicals at the Red Hill Tip was.
“They’ve covered it up coming in and covered it up after they unloaded it. If the staff didn’t smell it we wouldn’t have known and [we all] saw what happened with the Red Hill Tip fire,” he said.