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Waste and recycling programs

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Suntown Landfill closure

Overview

Suntown Landfill was established in 1979.

Development took place in parts of Arundel, to the west of the landfill, in 2000. Some homes were built at the foot of the western side of the landfill and others further away overlook the western batter.

In a letter to residents in 1997, the City of Gold Coast's then Chief Executive Officer said Suntown Landfill was planned to close in 2001. A concept plan for future use of the site was publicly displayed from 28 April until 30 May 1997. In a February 2000 newsletter to Arundel residents, the former Divisional Councillor and Deputy Mayor said the landfill would close in July 2001.

However, a search of City records shows there was no Council decision to cease landfill activities at Suntown until 26 October 2009, when the current Council resolved that normal landfill activities at the Suntown facility would cease on 31 December 2010, with the acceptance of mixed waste being limited to specific weekends and public holidays until the end of February 2012.

On 19 July 2010, the City formally reaffirmed its commitment to cease normal landfill activities at Suntown on 31 December 2010 and additionally resolved that no mixed waste would be received at the site from 28 February 2011.

Green waste and other sorted recyclable materials would be accepted, but would be transported off site to other receiving stations. From 28 February 2011 the only landfill material to be accepted at Suntown was uncontaminated soil, concrete and masonry waste (such as stone, bricks and tiles) needed to restore the site to a more suitable landform.

Suntown landfill closure decision

The Suntown closure resolution from the Council meeting held 19 July 2010 is set out in full below.

  1. That the report/attachment be deemed a confidential document and be treated as such in accordance with sections 171 (3) and 200 (9) of the Local Government Act 2009 and that the document remain confidential unless Council decides otherwise by resolution.
  2. That normal landfilling operations and activity at Suntown Landfill cease on 31 December 2010, with the exception of the period outlined in Recommendation 6.
  3. That to meet this deadline and in order to deliver a usable final landform that maximises opportunities for sporting fields and recreational activities, the City acknowledges that it will be necessary to increase disposal and earthworks activities at the landfill over the period until 31 December 2010.
  4. That the City notes the height of the western batter once the landfill is closed would be approximately 3 metres lower than at its present highest point.
  5. That from 1 January 2011, the ongoing acceptance of green waste and demolition waste will be continued for the purpose of resource recovery and recycling.
  6. That to maximise the efficiency of the city's waste management network and to reduce time delays for the public at waste transfer stations during peak demand periods, from 1 January 2011 to 28 February 2011, the public will be permitted to deposit mixed waste at the Suntown Landfill on weekends and public holidays.
  7. That the Suntown landfill site will continue to operate longer term as a waste management facility incorporating a waste transfer station, or a recycling and/or recovery facility.

Landfill gas

Landfill gas primarily is produced by organic reactions in putrescible and organic/green waste as the organic waste decomposes. The main components of landfill gas are methane (about 60 per cent) and carbon dioxide. No putrescibles have been buried in the Suntown Landfill since 2001, which means landfill gas being produced there now generally is the by-product of material that was buried up to 30 years ago.

2002: City of Gold Coast began working with Energex on the extraction of methane gas from Suntown, which significantly assists management of gas at the landfill and also provides 'green power' that is fed back into the electricity grid.

2009: The City implemented an enhanced environmental monitoring regime that went above normal practice. Monitoring in some locations showed landfill gas had migrated beyond the Suntown Landfill site boundary at levels above the site's environmental licence limit. Some below-ground wells on and near the landfill boundary recorded fluctuating levels of landfill gas, with readings varying from site to site and from day to day.

2010/2011: The City made a significant investment to install an additional 80 new landfill gas extraction wells and progressively capped and rehabilitated 75 per cent of the landfill site. Further work to complete the capping is planned between late 2013 and early 2014. The installation and operation of these additional wells, in conjunction with capping a significant amount of the landfill, has resulted in a significant increase in the amount of landfill gas captured within the site, reducing the potential for off-site migration of gas.

Ambient monitoring of air quality undertaken in areas around the site, both by the Queensland Government and City of Gold Coast since 2009 has consistently shown air quality to be within acceptable public health guidelines. An environmental evaluation undertaken on behalf of the City in 2010 concluded that, based on available data, human health risks were not anticipated, and that methane levels were unlikely to be of concern in home or community facilities surrounding the site.

Now and the future: City of Gold Coast continues to monitor landfill gas levels at Suntown, both on and off-site, and continues on-site extraction of gas through Energex. The City's expert consultant, AECOM, continues to retrieve and evaluate data from monitors in homes, in soil gas wells, at Arundel State School and Arundel Parkwood Community Centre.

It is intended that monitoring and extraction will continue until tests show conclusively that these activities are no longer necessary. Investigations into environmental controls continue as required. City of Gold Coast is continuing to rehabilitate the site which beyond the initial post closure care period will provide significant benefits for the local community.

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