As many in the community know, an Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel has been appointed by Hilltops Council to provide expert advice to Council concerning Blantyre Farms Development Application to construct and run a mega-piggery at Eulie, Harden.
It is important that the Hilltops community is aware of the facts concerning the potential for contamination of waterways from Blantyre Farms proposed mega-piggery at Eulie.
The recent rain events are a timely warning of the various factors that must be thoroughly considered in the planning of any development.
In their EIS and the Additional Information, I believe Blantyre Farms failed to demonstrate how their proposed catchment system would have been able to contain the high level run off experienced last week and how an overflow spill, from recycling dams and ponds holding manure sludge and liquid effluent, would have been prevented from entering into Maniac and Cunningham Creeks and then to Jugiong Creek and the Murrumbidgee river. The water supply for the township of Young comes from this source.
Amount of waste produced by the proposed mega-piggery
Waste from any animals entering drinking water catchments is a potential problem to be managed.
This problem is magnified if there are a very large number of animals in a small area.
The population density of pigs in an intensive mega-piggery presents a totally different concern than traditional grazing. Pigs produce a lot more waste than grazing animals and at least five times more waste than humans. The waste from 25,000 pigs is equivalent to the waste produced by more than 100,000 people.
According to Blantyre Farms proposal, this waste (manure and urine) will be flushed from the sheds daily into a covered manure pond.
The manure pond is just like a very large septic tank. The only difference is that Blantyre Farms proposes to burn the methane/biogas produced.
The liquid effluent and sludge that remains in the large manure pond is NOT purified. It is just like the sludge and run off from an ordinary septic tank but it is actually worse because it contains higher concentrations, than humans or other grazing animals, of zinc and copper (which are used to promote growth in the pigs), microorganisms that can cause disease, hormones and antibiotics.
Periodically, this sludge and liquid effluent from the manure pond is transferred to evaporation ponds. Liquid effluent is then sprayed onto paddocks and, when the sludge has dried out enough, it is stockpiled and then spread as fertiliser.
In addition to the enormous amount of daily waste that the ~25,000 pigs produce, Blantyre Farms proposes to compost the carcasses of dead pigs on the site.
From the mortality figures given in Blantyre Farms Environmental Impact Statement, approximately 254 metric tonnes of pig and piglet carcasses will be composted annually.
To help visualise this, an average grain truck, as many of you know, holds 25 metric tonnes of wheat.
In summary, Blantyre Farms proposes to store the excrement equivalent to a city of >100,000 people and approximately 10 grain trucks of pig carcasses on less than 40 hectares (<100 acres) within 200 metres of Maniac Creek.
Maniac Creek feeds directly into Cunningham Creek - the drinking water catchment area for the region.
They also propose to add liquid effluent and sludge waste material to the Eulie property annually. This poses quite a different risk of contamination than the waste produced via traditional grazing of sheep, cattle and alpacas in this area.
Blantyre Farms were expected to demonstrate, and provide actual evidence, of how they would contain the waste in all weather events and how they would prevent contamination of the drinking water catchment area and groundwater from their proposed mega-piggery.
I believe they failed to do so in the original EIS and have continued to fail to do so in the two lots of additional information they have supplied over the last nine months.
Stating that they have no issues at Murringo is not evidence that problems will not occur at Eulie. Blantyre Farms’ piggeries at Murringo are on relatively flat ground with clay soils and they are not in a groundwater vulnerable zone nor anywhere near a drinking water catchment area.
The conditions at Eulie are completely different. It is not a suitable site for an intensive mega-piggery.
Operating a mega-piggery responsibly and safely is an extremely complex process.
The EPA and Hilltops Council, with the help of the Independent Hearing and Assessment Panel, are rightfully looking at all potential issues thoroughly.
President, Cunningham Valley Action Group
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