By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Two industrial businesses on O’Grady Road, Hallam, which have been found to be responsible for releasing high levels of dust and grit, are set to be issued with pollution abatement notices by the state’s environmental watchdog.
Environment Protection Authority southern metro manager Marleen Mathias said dust had been observed leaving the two premises during a 10 March inspection, despite the sites “actively using dust suppression vehicles”.
The pollution abatement notices will require further dust controls to ensure no impact on the “local environment” or the businesses face potential fines up to $777,300, Ms Mathias said.
A third business in the area with “dust-generating” activity passed inspection.
Several neighbouring Hallam businesses and Hampton Park residents had pointed the finger at the road’s soil and mulch yards, blaming the businesses for health afflictions and thick coatings of silt on their decks, paths, windowsills and vehicles.
Ms Mathias said recent EPA monitoring detected elevated dust levels in the surrounding industrial area but not at neighbouring residences.
“Dust levels at the residential properties would likely fluctuate at times of differing weather conditions,” she said.
Testing showed the council-maintained gravel road was “not likely to be a significant contributor” to the sampled sites’ dust impacts, Ms Mathias said.
A long-suffering Hampton Park resident said the results confirmed the “grit” was coming from the compost, mulch and soil works businesses and not the gravel road.
He and his family are among several complainants about 400 metres south who had blamed asthma, wheezing, severe skin hives, and eye irritations on the dust swirling from the soil yards.
He is planning to build a $30,000 enclosed pergola to block out the dust that is blown onto his property with hot northerlies.
“They confirmed it’s grit and not just ordinary dust, which is what we all argued several years ago.
“I really hope there’s a solution.”
Meanwhile, dust-plagued business-owner Paul McBeth said in “the most incredible co-incidence” the council gave the road “the most intensive conditioning I’ve known” on 10 March just days ahead of an anticipated EPA site visit.
He had told Star News recently that staff at his business, Marvel Packers, had been choking on dust clouds kicked up by a heavy stream of trucks on O’Grady Road.
“The road was teeming with graders, tip trucks and specialised dust-suppressant trucks all morning which has completely transformed the road – for now.
“By carrying out these works directly before the EPAs assessment the council is making a mockery of the whole matter.
“I might be completely wrong and perhaps council are taking the issue of safety seriously at last, but the timing is one hell of a coincidence.”
Casey city presentation manager David Richardson said the council was unaware of the timing of the EPA planning further tests at the road.
He said the treatment was part of routine maintenance that included a second application of dust suppressant on the road.
The council’s maintenance regime included at least one dust suppressant treatment annually, he said.