Merivale residents express concerns over Shire of Esperance's waste facility

Members of the Merivale Tip Action group examing the potential waste facility site with Shire of Esperance and Tails Consultants representatives.
Members of the Merivale Tip Action group examing the potential waste facility site with Shire of Esperance and Tails Consultants representatives.

Locals have voiced concerns to the Shire of Esperance regarding tourism and environmental impacts of a proposed waste facility site.

Merivale Tip Action Group (MTAG) chairwoman Jill Fitzpatrick said she applauded the initiative of councillors for instigating the meetings but remained unconvinced of the site’s suitability.

“Our group is sceptical of the guarantee, or claim, of no odour, visual, noise, litter or ground water impact based on prior engineering inadequacies,” she said.

Ms Fitzpatrick listed the lead contamination, initial proposals of open iron ore stockpiles carted from the Goldfields and the Shark Lake Industrial Park and stock wash-down facility as examples of engineering inadequacies.

“It (the shire) was a key advocate on behalf of the community, resulting in the construction of the iron ore stockpile shed and the resolution of the lead contamination issues, both of which are State Government responsibilities,” Shire CEO Matthew Scott said

“The stock truck wash-down facility the shire recently constructed is actually an example of this.”

Mr Scott said the the new site would be licensed by the Department of Environment Regulation (DER) and the Environmental  Protection Authority (EPA) and must operate without any significant impact on the external environment.

He said no odour, noise or visual complaints had been recorded at the Wylie Bay waste facility.

Members from the group visited the site to examine trial excavations and outcomes of the work being undertaken.

Mr Scott said members provided further information resulting in additional water sampling sites being identified to ensure a complete understanding of the local environment.

Ms Fitzpatrick said there were "disparities" between the information Talis Consultants had gathered and evidence of MTAG members living near the site regarding the hydrology and geology of the area.

Mr Scott insisted Talis was an industry leader in landfill solutions with specialised staff in environmental science, geology, hydro geology and landfill engineering.

“The shire is currently collecting physical data on the site and welcomes any information from stakeholders that will assist the council in making an informed decision,” he said.

“We are unsure as to what the disparities are that are being referred to.”

Tourism Esperance chairman Wayne Halliday said he recognised the Wylie Bay facility was nearing the end of its life but did not support any waste facility in that vicinity.

“Merivale Road is the gateway to two of the most popular tourism locations in the region, those being Cape Le Grande and Esperance Stonehenge,” he said.

“170,000 people go through Cape Le Grande every year and they take Merivale Road to get there.

“I am confident common sense will prevail.”

Mr Scott said Stonehenge was three kilometres from the proposed facility, with a 500 metre buffer of bluegum plantation surrounding the site. 

“The actual site will not be visible from the road and signage will be kept to a minimum,” he said. 

“Within the same distance of the current facility are the Esperance Bay Turf Club, Bandy Creek Boat Harbour, tourist accommodation, food processors and recreational fishing and swimming beaches. 

“Current management practices prevent any impacts on these facilities and the improved operation of a new facility will further reduce any potential impacts. 

“The Shire wishes to work with the tourism industry to minimise or remove (if possible) any impact the potential landfill will have on visitors and locals enjoying our natural attractions.”

Mr Scott said the potential of a tour of the current facility had been proposed to demonstrate where improvements will be made to any new site.  

”While the initial results on this site seem very promising Council will continue to look at all the relevant environmental data to see if there is a reason to abandon this site or further support its suitability,” he said.

MTAG would continue to meet with shire council as the process continued.