Q: Where, and when is the Melbourne Regional Landfill open?
A: The Melbourne Regional Landfill is located at 1100-1152 Christies Road, Ravenhall, within a Special Use Zone.
The site is open Monday to Friday 12:00am – 5:00pm, weekends 12:00am – 4:00pm and Public Holidays 12:00am – 4:00pm
Q: What is the landfill, and what is it for?
A: The landfill is a highly engineered and intensely regulated landfill, providing a vital community service that safely manages household and business waste that cannot be recycled.
Q: What is Cleanaway proposing?
A: Cleanaway will soon lodge a Planning Permit application with Melton Council and a Works Approval application with the Victorian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) seeking approvals to extend the footprint of its operations. Part of Melbourne’s critical infrastructure, the landfill provides metropolitan communities, councils, industry and businesses to safely dispose of waste that can’t be recycled.
Our application for a site extension will allow us to continue to follow the quarry’s activities by filling in the open void. The quarry next door is owned and operated by Boral and is licenced to operate for at least another fifty years.
Q: Is Cleanaway’s application different to the application lodged in 2014?
A: Yes. Cleanaway’s application is significantly different to the application lodged in 2014 by the previous owner. The differences are:
- Our application has a smaller footprint and we'll conduct landfilling activities in a much smaller area.
- In our case, landfilling will not extend to the full area approved for quarrying, and our application provides generous internal and external buffers.
- The overall site layout and final contour design achieves natural integration with the topography of the surrounding area.
- We are applying for a works approval licence from the EPA, at the same time as the planning application, therefore our application includes very robust and detailed documentation– including engineering, environmental and amenity assessments to ensure stakeholders and decision makers have a comprehensive understanding of our intent.
Q: How many years of air space remains with your current permit?
A: We estimate between 7 to 10 years remains at the site with current permits. Our priority is to continue meeting the community’s essential waste service needs with minimal impact on the local community.
Q: Your current permit doesn’t expire for some years, so why are you applying so far in advance?
A: A key part of best practice waste management is forward planning by both regulators and operators. Long-term certainty allows us to plan vital infrastructure solutions for storm water, site rehabilitation and landfill gas extraction. The State Government has earmarked the Ravenhall site as a “Waste Hub of State Importance”, and a critical piece of metropolitan infrastructure to help safely dispose of the community’s future waste management needs.
Cleanaway is seeking approvals for the extension now, so that any delay in extension approvals, does not impact on our ability to continue to provide a vital waste management service and to have community waste safely disposed of. Long term planning also allows us to plan for a future beyond the landfill as we continue to invest in recycling and renewable energy technologies.
Q: What is the difference between the Planning Permit and the Works Approval applications?
A: The planning permit application and the EPA works approval application are separate processes.
The site is zoned “Special Use Zone” and a permit is required for development of a landfill. A landfill is also a ‘scheduled premises’ that means it needs a works approval and EPA licence to be developed.
We have chosen to make the applications together because it will enable a full and thorough assessment to be undertaken.
There is a difference in the footprints covered by our planning application and our works approval application.
The works approval application seeks approval for a 30 year landfill – this is the extent of the timeframe the EPA currently grants licences for.
The planning application covers a larger area to ensure the continuity of safe waste management services in line with the State Government’s identification of Ravenhall as a piece of metropolitan Melbourne’s critical infrastructure.
The additional footprint is still within the quarry boundaries, and extends further into the quarry and landfill site. Obtaining planning permission over this additional area will not enable us to landfill it. Before a landfill can be extended into this area a works approval would be required from the EPA, and that application would have to include all the additional detail required by the EPA at that time.
Q: Can you explain the approval process?
A: Usually planning applications are assessed by the local Council (in this case Melton City Council). Works approval applications are assessed by the EPA.
In this case the current government has indicated its intention to ‘call-in’ the application for review.
A ‘call-in’ is where the Victorian Government’s Planning Minister makes a decision about a planning application, rather than the local Council. The Minister may also appoint an advisory committee or panel to assess the application and make recommendations about an application. The Minister then decides on the outcome of the application. A panel is a forum for the community and other stakeholders to make and hear submissions relating to an application.
After we submit the applications, the relevant government agencies will be in a position to provide further information on the process, and the opportunities for involvement and submissions by stakeholders.
Q: What type of waste is accepted at the site?
A: We have stringent processes in place and will only accept waste that is defined in our EPA Licence number 12160. That is putrescible and solid inert waste. Putrescible waste comprises of household and commercial waste that naturally breaks down, while solid inert waste does not decompose, such as construction waste.The Melbourne Regional Landfill site does not accept Asbestos.
Q: How long has the site been operational?
A: The Melbourne Regional Landfill has been in operation since 1999, long before the current housing estates and business precincts were established. Cleanaway took over landfill operations in 2015 and since that time we have made significant engineering and environmental improvements to the site.
Q: How big is the active cell?
A: Landfill operations work by utilising an active cell that has an operational face. The operational face is the only area of exposed waste at any time. This means that although the cell in use may be around 15 acres in size, the only part of that area that is open at any given time is about the size of an Olympic swimming pool.
Only one active cell is in use at any time with only one operational face. The operational face expands and contracts through the day as vehicles arrive to deposit their loads and is covered each and every day at the end of operations.
The active cell is constructed within the existing quarry void. As the active cell reaches capacity, landfilling then progresses to the next active cell, and then the next, until the void is filled. Each active cell takes approximately 12-24 months to fill. Once the active cell reaches capacity it is ready for capping and gas extraction infrastructure installation. The cap is an impermeable layer of soil and plastic that is designed to keep rainwater out of the waste, as well as capture landfill gas for extraction. The cap is then grassed with using native, local species that match the surrounding environment and is then open to the community for passive recreation purposes such as sporting fields and parks.
Q: How big will the landfill be? I’ve heard it will be the equivalent of 105 MCGs
A: The landfill will not be the size of 105 MCG’s.
The operational face is the only area of exposed waste at any time and is the size of an Olympic swimming pool. Landfilling will only ever take place within the already extracted quarry void. An extension to the current licenced area will simply allow us to continue landfilling in the open voids, post quarrying activities.
Q: How high will the landfill be? I’ve heard it will be 15 storeys high.
A: Generally the peak height of the capped landfill is 40m above the natural ground level. The height cannot exceed permitted maximum contour levels and the site is surveyed regularly to ensure the height remains in accordance with our approved contours and height limits set by council.
For example, the view of the landfill from Christies Rd is representative of the general height and grade of any future approved and completed landfill. The landfill, once capped and covered with native vegetation, will appear in line with the natural landform of the western plains area.
Q: How will Cleanaway remediate the site after filling each landfill cell?
A: As part of best practice landfill operations, once landfill cells are filled to the approved contour level, we move to a capping, or rehabilitation phase. This involves the construction of an impervious “cap” over the waste, which is then vegetated with native grasses.
The purpose of the cap is to ensure that no rain enters the waste mass, as well as assist with landfill gas capture. The cap also means that the landfill cell remains in post closure phase where we continue to monitor gas and leachate generation rates and manage them to keep the environment safe.
The capping process is regulated under our EPA licence, with both the design and construction of the cap independently audited to meet the specifications of the Victorian Best Practice Environmental Management (BPEM) guidelines. The actual construction of the cap is undertaken by a specialist contractor engaged by Cleanaway as part of a competitive tender process.
Q: Will the landfill do us any harm in the long-term?
A: There is no scientific evidence that professionally managed landfills cause harm to local residents, animals or the environment. We employ environmental specialists, construction engineers and highly experienced operators to conduct rigorous and ongoing construction and monitoring activities at the site to ensure we meet environmental compliance standards and can respond to any issues as a matter of priority.
Q: Will the landfill receive waste from other areas besides the West?
A: Yes. The landfill currently receives waste from homes and businesses in the broader metropolitan Melbourne area. We have no plans to accept waste that falls outside the current metropolitan Melbourne area.
Q: What is Cleanaway doing to control odour?
A: Our staff conduct daily onsite inspections along the site boundaries, at the landfill surface and at the leachate infrastructure.
Since taking ownership of the landfill in March 2015, Cleanaway has invested heavily in infrastructure upgrades and implemented numerous aesthetic and operational improvements. Our daily site inspections include many checks, such as:
The condition of interim capped areas;
- Checking the integrity of our lids and seals on our leachate sumps and landfill gas
- Monitoring of local climatic conditions
- Monitoring our water dams to ensure adequate aeration; and
- Ensuring adequate soil cover over waste at the active cell. components.
The active face has been reduced to 1800m2
- Installed additional gas wells
- Applied an interim cap to inactive areas of the landfill
- Introduced a procedure to ensure the deep burial hole is covered at all times
- Installed odour suppression infrastructure; and
- Installed cap lids on leachate sumps.
Q: What other controls will Cleanaway put in place at the landfill?
A: Our highly trained and specialist staff regularly monitor all activities from cell construction to operations and site rehabilitation, to ensure our landfill meets Best Practice Environmental Management (BPEM) guidelines, which are in accordance with our EPA licence conditions. In addition, we employ specialist engineers and consultants to conduct numerous air and water quality monitoring activities and thorough environmental works schedules. These site management plans are approved by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), and include:
- Landfill gas management
- Stormwater management; and
- Groundwater quality management.
A new 12 metre high litter fence captures onsite litter and our new dedicated litter crews collect any off site stray litter as a priority. We conduct a sweep of Christies Road twice a day from the railway overpass to the site entrance. All materials accepted at the active operational face of the landfill are covered daily to reduce the likelihood of odour and litter escaping the site.
Internal and main access roads are regularly sprayed with water to minimise dust. Soil stockpiles are also sprayed with water to further reduce dust.
The use of wheel washes, rumble bars and well-formed internal haul roads minimise muddy roads, and we have purchased a dedicated street sweeper for the site.
Access routes and speeds of vehicles are restricted to minimise noise disturbance and increase road safety in the local community. All operations are conducted in accordance within times specified within the site’s permit conditions.
The site entrance is located on Christies Road and access areas are designed to minimise vehicles queuing along public roads, as well as assisting in the control of dirt from the site. All transporters are informed of the appropriate roads to travel on to get to the site.
Q: How is landfill gas managed at the site?
A: Landfill gas is a natural by-product of waste decomposing in the landfill. Landfill gas is made up of methane (approximately 55%) and carbon dioxide (approximately 43%) as well as minor trace gases such as hydrogen sulphide. Landfill gas is collected from the landfill through our extensive network of gas extraction wells onsite. The gas is transported via this network of ‘flowlines’ to our onsite Biogas to Energy plant.
The energy produced onsite is then used to power generators that produce electricity. This electricity is then fed back into the local electricity grid to power local homes and businesses. About 34,000 megawatts of energy is produced this with, which equates to powering 4,000 local each day. We have plans to expand this renewable technology so that we can feed additional electricity back into the local grid.
Q: How many trucks are tipping per day?
A: On average, 300 to 400 trucks tip a day onsite. This is dependent on seasonal factors and the many construction projects currently active across metropolitan Melbourne.
Q: I am concerned about trucks travelling to and from the landfill and in my neighbourhood.
A: The main truck routes to the Melbourne Regional Landfill are the Western Freeway, Christies Rd, Ballarat Rd and Hopkins Rd. The highest concentration of waste trucks is along Christies Rd which is the main access to the landfill site.
Caroline Springs Boulevard is the main residential road that is used primarily for kerbside waste collections and local residential construction waste in the local area. This includes waste collection from local shopping centres, schools, sporting venues, business precincts and many other community centres in the area.
Q: Do uncovered trucks expose dangerous waste into the air?
A: The bulk of the waste trucks that complete their collections are enclosed with no waste exposed. Typically, open top trucks carry construction waste or hard waste such as timber and they usually have covers on them to secure their load that aren’t always visible from road level. As with all vehicular movements on public roads, trucks are required to adhere to Vic Road regulations. The drivers and companies operating these trucks are responsible for ensure each load is secure in line with these regulations.
Q: How do you monitor incoming waste to ensure nothing hazardous enters the site?
A: We monitor incoming waste in three ways:
- Prior to the delivery of the waste, we work with our customers to ensure their waste loads comply with our EPA licence and strict operational requirements. Cleanaway staff assess information about each load to ensure that the waste is acceptable and in accordance with our licence.
- When waste loads are brought on site, they pass through a weighbridge. Weighbridge staff observe the load at the entry point via cameras and question truck drivers about the source and type of waste. In addition, our staff conduct weekly random audits of incoming waste loads to confirm the type of waste being delivered matches what is declared.
- Our operational staff who work at the active operational face, vigilantly observe all unloading of waste. If they identify a potentially non-approved waste delivery, it is pushed to a non-active area of the landfill cell and assessed by Cleanaway environmental staff. If assessment confirms the presence of non-approved waste, it is removed from the site and disposed of appropriately. The company who delivered the waste is contacted and cautioned to ensure such waste is not delivered to the site again.
Q: How is Cleanaway held accountable to ensure that the landfill emissions pose no threat to the health of the community?
A: We carry out extensive monitoring of emissions from the landfill cap, the operational face, perimeter monitoring bores as well as the biogas to energy plant and flares onsite. We do this to not only reduce the risk of odour escaping the site, but to also ensure the health and safety of the local community and environment.We are legally required to annually report landfill emissions from the Melbourne Regional Landfill to the National Pollution Inventory (NPI). Further information can be obtained at the National Pollution Inventory (NPI) website: www.npi.gov.au
Q: How does Cleanaway monitor the health of local groundwater?
A: No issues with the quality of local groundwater quality have been identified to date. We work closely with the EPA appointed Environmental Auditor to collect all required groundwater samples and information for regular assessment. The sampling results are independently assessed. The environmental performance of the site is reported annually as part of our Annual Performance Statement (APS) which is publicly available on the Victorian EPA website. www.epa.vic.gov.au
Q: How do you deal with vermin i.e. seagulls, birds, rats and mice?
A: We control vermin onsite by covering the active operational face with a 300mm thick layer of soil every day. We are also examining methods such as light reflecting prisms to discourage seagulls.
Q: What is the purpose of the leachate dam? How is the water in the dam treated?
A: The purpose of the dam is to store and treat water from the landfill that has come into contact with waste (called leachate). Water accumulates in the landfill due to rainfall and liquids present in within the waste itself and settles on the impermeable liner system across the base of the landfill.The EPA requires that this leachate is pumped from the landfill cell and stored, treated and disposed of in accordance with landfill best practice regulations. This is to ensure local groundwater supplies remain clean.As the site is capped, the amount of leachate generated decreases. Leachate in the dam will be treated using floating mechanical aerator units. These units agitate the water to ensure that oxygen is mixed into the water and prevents the leachate from becoming odorous. This is a common method used by water authorities in Australia to treat wastewater. Once treated, the water is then safely disposed of into the domestic sewerage system.
Q: How will Cleanaway keep the community updated?
A: We are genuinely interested in engaging with the community, and have introduced a number of initiatives to keep the local residents and business owners informed about our landfill. These include:
- Introduced a 24-hour community hotline – 1800 213 753
- Constructed a Community Information Centre at the Ravenhall site
- Formed a community consultation group - Melbourne Regional Landfill Community Consultation Group (MRLCCG), consisting residents and representatives from Stop the Tip, EPA, Brimbank and Melton Councils, and Cleanaway personnel.
- Providing interactive waste management education programs for local schools to assist students to understand how waste is managed in the community, the role of landfills and the merits of recycling.
- Investing in our local community by providing sponsorships and community grants to local community groups.