Ballarat’s new saleyards have continued to cause a stink with the local community.
Operators Regional Livestock Exchanges have been issued a notice from the Environment Protection Agency Victoria to stop the smell coming from the Central Victoria Livestock Exchange.
RLX say it has already changed its ways, acquiring new machinery to dry clean the sheep pens, which causes less of a stink than wet washing them.
However agents say to have clean and dust free yards for vendors and livestock, wet washing has been the only option.
After the EPA received about 100 reports from the community complaining about the smell, they asked RLX to change the way they clean their pens to “prevent odours being emitted into the residential areas surrounding the premises”.
“Current pen cleaning practice using large volumes of water are at odds with the Environment Improvement Plan…which describes dry cleaning of the pens and use of minimal water,” the EPA pollution abatement notice said.
“Animal pens when wet are known to generate odours, thus hosing of yards creates high strength wastewater…these non-approved practices are believed to be strongly contributing to offensive odours being emitted to the residential areas surrounding the premises.”
EPA gave RLX until February 15 to fix their cleaning methods and until March 1 to report back with their new processes.
But AAM Investment Group (operators of RLX) general manager Garry Edwards said the “amended procedures have already been implemented and are expected to significantly reduce the likelihood of odour generation from the site”.
In a statement, Mr Edwards said the preferred method for cleaning the sheep yards at CVLX was dry mechanical brush sweeping, with wet wash down of the swept surfaces when required, but the machinery had not worked effectively.
“This situation created a short-term requirement to wash down the sheep yards after each sheep sale, as per the old saleyards, until alternate equipment could be sourced and delivered to the site,” he said.
“(The new mechanical equipment) will enable the facility to be dry cleaned after every sheep sale, and for washing of the facility to be substantially reduced. Comments and complaints have also been raised in some instances about the smell of the animals themselves, however nothing can reasonably be done to address these queries as Miners Rest is located in a rural area and animal and farming smells are part of the rural landscape.”
But Ballarat Stock and Station Agents Association president Xavier Bourke said the farming community that paid yard dues needed a clean facility every week to put their stock in.
“Initially they were hosing the receival and delivery yards, and sweeping the pens under the shed, but that wasn’t doing good enough job for us as agents, so they went to hosing the whole yards out each time. When you see the yards after not being hosed you just can’t put stock back in them the week after,” Mr Bourke said.
“The sweeper they had just wasn’t satisfactory – it didn’t do the job. When they were sweeping it there was a lot of dust, and that is another issue.
“The yards just haven’t come up to scratch a couple of times, so we have been at them to keep washing, as producers paying the yard fees need to be given a facility good enough to present their stock in.”
Mr Bourke said they would see if the new dry cleaning machinery had a better outcome, but noted that wet washing was still needed in the receival and delivery pens, and a lot higher number of livestock trucks were using the truckwash area then at the previous site.
The Committee for Miners Rest said those community members who attended a meeting with RLX in December in regards to the smell were “pleased the EPA is at last taking these complaints seriously”.