The Shire recently undertook an extensive review of its current waste management practices and has developed a Strategic Waste Management Strategy that is currently in the process of being implemented.
Why review the current waste management practices?
The review came about after the State Government’s Department of Environment and Regulation (DER) inspections revealed significant environmental issues within both the Kununurra and Wyndham landfill sites.
The Shire had been advised by the DER that the current waste management practices required significant improvements before the existing Kununurra Landfill’s Environmental Protection Licence expires in 2016.
What were the findings from the review?
The Shire identified the need to implement extensive
improvements to the landfill sites to:
- Minimise the environmental risk to acceptable levels;
- Comply with State Government regulations;
- Meet industry operational requirements;
- Provide an appropriate work place for staff; and
- Become economically sustainable.
These measures will ensure that the Shire can continue to provide waste services to the community well into the
What are the reasons behind the issues with the existing landfill sites?
Due to limited resources, the Shire’s landfill sites have been poorly operated and managed over the past few decades which resulted in unacceptable impacts to the local environment. The environmental impacts were caused by numerous activities including:
- No control over the type of wastes delivered to the landfill;
- Regular fires occurring within the landfill (and no access to a fire truck on site);
- No site rehabilitation;
- Poor documentation of delivered waste; and
- Failure to comply with licence conditions as set by DER.
In addition to this, the Shire discovered that the current waste management fees and charges were well below both breakeven cost and industry benchmark. The result of this is that the Shire (funded via ratepayers) is currently subsiding waste disposal from the local commercial /
Why does the Shire need to change it's waste management practices?
Non-compliance with the DER will result in significant (up to $25,000 per time) fines being issued to the Shire and it is unlikely that the Shire’s licence will be renewed to
operate the landfills. This would mean that all waste
produced in the Shire would need to be transported to either Halls Creek or Darwin at a significant cost to waste producers (domestic and commercial).
In addition to this, without refining and increasing waste management fees and charges, the Shire would not have the capacity to implement the improvements required without considerable financial burden to ratepayers
What actions will the Shire be taking to implement the Strategic Waste Management Plan?
The Shire has already commenced implementing the
Strategic Waste Management Strategy and actions that have started or are due to be completed over the next 12 months are:
- Improve operations and management of sites;
- Purchase appropriate plant and equipment to effectively undertake operations;
- Start to progressively rehabilitate the sites;
- Construct stormwater management system and
establish groundwater monitoring bores;
- Produce operational plans and guidelines for the
- Improve customer information recording system;
- Provide improved staff facilities;
- Increase the sustainable recycling of materials;
- Change fees and charges so that ‘user-pays’.