On Friday 2 March, GWRC received four odour complaints about Spicer Landfill. If you were affected by odour from the landfill, we understand how this would have been frustrating and may have inconvenienced you.
Our pollution response officer was unable to attend and undertake an odour assessment, as they were investigating another incident. However, we have requested PCC investigate the cause of the odour that occurred on Friday 2 March, as it clearly affected members of the community.
Information reviewed to date as part of this investigation shows that the gas collection was operating effectively, daily cover was applied, and the sludge received that day was not identified as the cause of odours outside the landfill – this process really shows the value of the landfill management plan as a management and compliance tool. A GWRC audit of Spicer Landfill on 12 February did not detect any non-compliance.
GWRC will continue to monitor compliance of the landfill, and investigate any issues. Please continue to call our Environmental Pollution Hotline (0800 496 734) if you do detect and odour.
Last month we approved the revised Spicer Landfill Operational Management Plan (OMP). The updated OMP reflects the significant operational improvements at Spicer Landfill which have resulted in better environmental outcomes and reduced odour. This is a key document to give the community surety that the landfill is being well managed into the future. The community were invited to comment on the draft OMP at the Community Liaison Group (CLG) meeting on 28 June 2017. The updated document will join the Spicer Landfill Gas Management Plan which was approved in June 2016, and GWRC will be measuring the sites performance against the 2 key documents.
In early August PCC submitted a resource consent application to update the current landfills consent conditions – these date from the early 90’s. The application seeks to modernise the conditions, and ensure they align with best industry practice. This process will effectively ‘codify’ the improved practices that have occurred onsite since mid 2015. It is expected that a decision will be made within the next month or two.
Porirua City Council have invited interested members of the Tawa community to a special Community Liaison Group (CLG) meeting on Wednesday 10 May 2017 at the Linden Social Centre from 7pm.
In 1996, resource consents were granted to PCC for the continued operation of Spicer Landfill, to expire in 2030. Since then there have been changes to landfill management practices in New Zealand so PCC are seeking to vary the consent conditions to more closely reflect best practice.
The intention of the meeting is to introduce the proposed changes to the Spicer Landfill consent conditions, and provide the public the opportunity to give PCC feedback to consider.
On the evening of Friday 24 February 2017, Greater Wellington Regional Council's Environment Hotline received multiple notifications about odour from Spicer Landfill. GWRC is investigating the situation.
In December 2016 GWRC completed another site inspection of the Spicer Landfill. At the time of the inspection,the site was fully complying with all onsite operational conditions and management plan requirements. The site will continue to be inspected on a regular basis. The Spicer Landfill gas management plan has now been in effect for six months, and PCC are continuing to monitor its operation.
In September 2016, Porirua City Council submitted a revised Operations Management Plan (OMP). This plan provides procedures, monitoring and actions for all day to day operations of the landfill. GWRC and technical experts Cardno Ltd have reviewed the OMP. GWRC is in final discussions with Porirua City Council over the content of the OMP, and the approval and implementation of this plan is imminent. It’s important to note here that the OMP ‘codifies’ the improved management practices and procedures which have been in place for the last 12 months or so. The plan is also in addition to the Landfill Gas Management Plan which we approved in June 2016.
The resource consents for Spicer Landfill require that the operation of the landfill must be in accordance with the Operations Management Plan (OMP). By getting the OMP and the Landfill Gas Management Plan revised and updated, it essentially updates the ‘compliance baseline’ for acceptable onsite operations. Therefore, should the site not be operating as per the resource consent conditions or the plans, the site will be non-compliant, and GWRC will investigate.
Consent condition - ‘review’
GWRC and PCC have been meeting throughout 2016 to discuss updating the consent conditions for Spicer Landfill. As part of our investigation into the increase of odour notifications in 2015, we conducted an in-depth analysis of the existing consent conditions to determine whether the resource consent conditions, one, played a role in the increase in odour experienced in the community; and two, whether the conditions needed to be changed/updated before the consents expired in 2030. The outcome of the consent analysis concluded that the conditions were dated, and did not represent ‘best practice’ and did not have adequate consent conditions relating to the mitigation measures around the operation of the landfill gas capture, treatment and discharge system. In GWRC’s meeting with PCC we have advised that our intention is to change the consent conditions so that they are more modern and align with best practice. The process to change the consents needs to be ‘led’ by PCC, and we are encouraging PCC to discuss these changes with the community. We understand that PCC are currently considering when and how to engage with the community around these changes to the consents. Any further information in regards to the progress should be sought from PCC.
GWRC regulatory oversight of Spicer Landfill gas management reached a milestone on 17th June 2016, with the new Landfill Gas Management Plan coming into effect.
In June 2015 GWRC issued Abatement Notices to PCC and ESL because the gas capture and overall management of the system was not up to best international practice. In July 2015 the Environment Court ‘stayed’ the Abatement Notices, and required PCC (and ESL) to prepare a Landfill Gas Management Plan (LGMP).
GWRC has carefully reviewed the plan, with its technical experts from Cardno. We are satisfied that the LGMP outlines best management practices and processes, and is in line with best international practice. This will mean closer monitoring of the gas levels onsite and management triggers with actions in the case of odour complaints or the detection of increased levels of gas on site.
Since June 2015 there has also been significant upgrade works undertaken on site to improve the gas management system, including extensive maintenance of existing gas wells and the addition of several new wells. PCC have reported an increase in the amount and quality of gas being collected as a result.
Given the site now has a much more effective landfill gas capture system in place, and the management and oversight of this is enshrined in the LGMP, we consider the Abatement Notices have served their purposes and GWRC has subsequently withdrawn the notices.
Our compliance monitoring regime will now move to focus on checking compliance with the LGMP. The LGMP includes:
The detailed information in the LGMP means that PCC, ESL and GWRC have joint understanding and agreement on how best practice in management and monitoring of the gas system will be achieved. It also gives GWRC confidence in PCC and ESL to manage the gas system in such a way to meet the conditions of their resource consents.
Now that the LGMP development process is complete, PCC will shortly be submitting to GWRC for review an updated version of the Operations and Management Plan. The OMP will look at other areas of the landfill’s operations, management and monitoring practices, to ensure these too are consistent with international best practices.
GWRC noticed a reduction in odour notifications received over October and November 2015. PCC and ESL continue to focus on implementing practical solutions on site to address the odour issues. You can find out more details about what has been happening on site here: http://www.pcc.govt.nz/News---Events/Latest-News/Spicer-Landfill-Updates. GWRC officers are continuing with frequent inspections at the landfill and are provided with regular progress updates from PCC.
Good progress has been made towards the development of the Landfill Gas Management Plan (LGMP). A draft was submitted to GWRC in October which was reviewed by GWRC and their technical experts (Cardno NZ Limited). The review findings were provided back to PCC and further meetings held to work through any outstanding technical matters. GWRC will see an amended plan in February 2016 and hope to have it approved shortly after. The Abatement Notices continue to be 'stayed' (see further information below) by the Court while this process is underway.
If you live in the Tawa area you may have received a flyer in your letterbox in early December about the Spicer Landfill. This included a card with some information and a magnet advertising the Environmental Hotline. This mail drop was done in response to requests from the local community to ensure anyone experiencing odour is aware of who to contact about it, and advertise this website as a location to access further information on the issue.
On the evening of Thursday 25 June 2015, Greater Wellington Regional Council received 11 notifications regarding odour from the Spicer Landfill. The duty officer was present in the area from 4.30pm. He made an assessment of the odour present and found it to be compliant with resource consent WGN940046  because:
The officer was unable to confirm a breach of the resource consent and the investigation concluded around 6.30pm.
Non-compliance on site
GWRC enforcement officers undertook a compliance inspection to Spicer Landfill on 27 May 2015 following a number of odour complaints on the evening of the 26 May 2015. At the inspection officers discovered non-compliance with the condition 22 of the landfill’s resource consent WGN940046  which relates to the operation of the gas collection system. The condition states that the consent holder needs to:
…take all practicable measures to avoid, remedy or mitigate the effects of the discharge of landfill gases to air. Within 30 months of the date of the grant of this consent, the consent holder shall have in place a gas interception system, and the landfill gas shall be either recovered or flared, or both.
The non-compliance observed by GWRC visiting officers was leakage from gas wells meaning that the gas was not being adequately recovered or flared (burnt).
This non-compliance is still under investigation.
Abatement notice issued
Due to issues observed onsite on 27 May 2015, GWRC have now (on 17 June 2015) issued an abatement notice. The same notice has been issued to Porirua City Council, as the consent holder, and a ‘duplicate’ has been issued to EnviroWaste Services Limited, as the landfill operators.
Porirua City Council and Enviro Waste Service Limited have now been granted until 10 July 2015 to comply with the notice.
What the notice requires Porirua City Council and EnviroWaste Services Limited to do
Both abatement notices require the same thing, that they must ‘cease the unauthorised discharge of contaminants, namely landfill gases, to air from the gas collection system at the Spicer Landfill’
Authorised gas discharges from the gas collection system are discharges from the gas collection system where gas in the system has been adequately recovered or flared, or both, in accordance with condition 22.
(NB – the gas collection system may not be the only source of gas on the landfill)
Enviro Waste Services Limited has appealed their abatement notice to the Environment Court and has also requested a stay (or postponement) of the notice. A ‘stay’ means that the appellant doesn’t need to comply with the abatement notice until the matter is resolved.
On 17 July the Environment Court granted Enviro Waste Services Limited an 8 week stay of their abatement notice, on the proviso that during this time Enviro Waste Services Limited is to develop a new and detailed Landfill Gas Management Plan. Enviro Waste Services Limited needs to submit the Landfill Gas Management Plan to GWRC by 28 August. This will be reviewed by our technical experts. The judge has required all parties to report back to the court by mid-September
During the ‘stay’ of the abatement, the resource consents for the landfill must still be complied with.
GWRC considers the development of a comprehensive Landfill Gas Management Plan is a much needed step forward, and is in line with our overall compliance strategy.
How GWRC will assess compliance with the abatement notice
As the non-compliance relates to operational issues with the gas system, Porirua City Council and EnviroWaste Services Limited will need to show that they have undertaken upgrades to the system and to their maintenance and management practices. These changes will need to make sure that the gas interception system will operate in a way that ensures that all landfill gas shall be either recovered or flared, or both – that is, it meets the requirement spelt out in condition 22 of the landfills resource consent.
GWRC will require proof that sufficient systems upgrades and maintenance programmes have been implemented to ensure that the gas interception system will be operated and maintained in a way so as to remain compliant into the future.
How does this abatement fit with GWRC wider compliance strategy and technical review work
An abatement notice is a regulatory ‘tool’ provided for under the Resource Management Act 1991. The abatement notice provides greater impetus to comply with the consent conditions by requiring a specific area of detected non-compliance to be addressed, by a certain date.
The technical information supplied in relation to meeting compliance with this abatement notice will be reviewed by GWRC’s technical experts. This information will also provide our officers with a better understanding of the operation and management of landfill gas interception system which will assist with assessing compliance in the future.
If you smell an odour
Please continue to notify GWRC of any offensive and objectionable odours you encounter. The process for responding to incidents will remain the same, as detailed here.
During the afternoon and evening of 26 May 2015 GWRC received 16 notifications regarding odour. These were investigated by the Duty Officer who was out in the catchment responding to these notifications from 3.30-3.45pm and then from 5-8pm. The officer determined that the odour was offensive and objectionable.
Following this incident, GWRC has:
In response to this odour GWRC has sent a ‘Please Explain’ letter to PCC and to the Spicer landfill operators, to establish what was happening at the landfill over the 24 hours prior and to establish, with supporting evidence, how PCC and Envirowaste Services Limited took all practicable steps to prevent odour beyond the boundary. Analysis of the information we hold is being undertaken to see if any other outcome related actions can be taken whilst this investigation occurs. GWRC has concluded this investigation and determined that there is insufficient evidence of a breach of consent on the 26 May. However the information gathered from this investigation has been used in the investigation regarding the 27 May non-compliance. Formal warnings have been issued to Porirua City Council and EnviroWaste Services Limited for the non-compliance observed on 27 May. These warnings are in addition to the abatement notice issued on 17 June 2015.
The information gathered will be used to determine if a breach of the Resource Management Act 1991 has occurred, and to decide on the appropriate punitive measures (enforcement action) that should be taken. This process is likely to take a few months.
GWRC have concluded the investigation into the 26 May offensive odours and have determined that while there was a confirmed objectionable and offensive odour occurring in the Tawa community, we did not have enough evidence to confirm that all practicable steps were not being undertaken at the landfill site to prevent odour. Given the consent condition requires these two strands to be met, and only one strand has been on this occasion, we could not confirm a breach of consent on 26 May. We appreciate that this will be disappointing for those people who complained that evening.
However from the information gathered from this investigation, we have determined that there was non- compliance onsite on the 27 May. The non-compliance observed was:
Given this we issued a formal warning (on 16 September) to both Enviro Waste Services Limited and Porirua City Council for the non-compliance observed on 27 May. These formal warnings are in addition to the abatement notice issued on 17 June 2015.
During a site visit on 16 March 2015 GWRC consultants observed a leakage from gas wells indicating a breach of condition 22 of the landfill’s resource consent.
GWRC sent letters to PCC and Envirowaste Services Limited to obtain information on this issue and has received responses. Their responses have been considered and the investigation is being presented to the GWRC Enforcement Decision Group (EDG) in order to make a decision on enforcement action. The outcome of the EDG’s decision will be notified during the week of 6-10 July.
On 8 July 2015, following an meeting of the Enforcement Decision Group, GWRC issued an Infringement Notice to Enviro Waste Services Limited
The Infringement Notice was issued as the outcome of the investigation into the gas well leakage observed on 16 March 2015. It was determined that they had not complied with condition 22 of the discharge to air consent and therefore the gas discharge of landfill gas was in breach of section 15(1)(c) of the Resource Management Act 1991. The infringement fine is $1,000.
The amount of the infringement fee is set by the Resource Management (Infringement Offences) Regulations 1999.
In relation to this same incident GWRC issued a Formal Warning to Porirua City Council.
On the evening of 9 March 2015, GWRC received a number of notifications regarding odour. These were investigated by the Duty Officer. The officer determined that the odour was offensive and objectionable.
Following this incident, GWRC has:
GWRC could not confirm that the offensive odour experienced on 9 March resulted from a breach of condition 14 of the consent, which states that the landfill operators must ‘take all practicable steps to prevent offensive or objectionable odours being detected at or beyond the boundary’ of the Spicer Landfill site. This is because GWRC was unable to link the odour to any on site practices or operations to confirm that all practicable steps were not taken. The investigation into the 9 March incident was completed with advice letters to PCC and Envirowaste Services Limited being issued on 22 June 2015.
GWRC has recently engaged the services of Cardno NZ Limited to assist with landfill compliance. This expertise will allow the compliance officer to drill into the more technical issues at the site. “While we don’t often get technical support of this type for landfills, we need to get to the bottom of this issue quickly for the community” says the landfill compliance officer Louise McKenzie. The technical issues that Cardno will be reviewing will be PCC’s management of:
The first step in this process was a site visit carried out on 16 March 2015, followed by recommendations that PCC need to work through. We will put any reports up on this website.
In addition to the engagement of Cardno NZ Limited for expert advice on landfill activities and practices, GWRC has stepped up compliance scrutiny and monitoring for the resource consents since October 2014 in response to the spike in odour notifications being received by the community. This has consisted of:
PCC and Envirowaste Limited continue to work cooperatively with GWRC throughout this process to identify and address these issues to get the best outcome for the community and the environment as quickly as possible.