Town up in arms over train odour

WASTE TRAIN: Tarago resident Adrian Ellson at the station as the waste train comes in and parks on the railway siding. Photo: David Cole
WASTE TRAIN: Tarago resident Adrian Ellson at the station as the waste train comes in and parks on the railway siding. Photo: David Cole

Most people move to the country for the quiet and the fresh air.

Well, that has not been the case in Tarago lately, with trains containing Sydney’s rubbish parking nearby and stinking up the place.

The trains have residents kicking up a stink. They say the smell from the containers is over-powering.

“On hot days the smell from the rubbish on the trains wafts into the village, forcing residents, businesses and the school to close their windows and doors,” said Tarago and District Progress Association Inc (TADPAI) secretary Adrian Ellson. 

For more than a decade, trains have been carrying waste from Sydney to dump in the massive hole in the ground that was the former Woodlawn Mine, now the Veolia Bioreactor, which turns the rubbish into methane gas to generate electricity.

The trains are sometimes up to 24 carriages long and are full of waste. Recently they have been parking on a siding at the Tarago Railway Station. What is unsettling the villagers, though, is the prospect that this could become a permanent arrangement under recent funding.

Mr Ellson said Transport for NSW secured $8.6 million in May to extend the Tarago rail siding to allow the freight trains to stop for extended periods of up to three hours during school times, to park up Veolia’s waste trains.

“It is understood from a call to MP Pru Goward that this is in response to Veolia requesting to extend the sidings within and next to its Crisps Creek Intermodal Facility, which was denied,” Mr Ellson said.

“Transport for NSW has acted without consultation with the Tarago community and it has approved, and sought funding for, the extension of the rail siding with minimal planning and consultation.

“This will result in waste trains parking directly behind the school. It would also be in close proximity to the Tarago Pre-School. “This is not acceptable,” he said.

Mr Ellson said during initial community consultations (August 4, 1998) for what is now the Veolia Woodlawn Bioreactor, the proponent (Collex) suggested the use of the Tarago rail siding to load and unload containers of waste on and off rail carriages.

“This was fiercely opposed by the Tarago community and the final solution agreed to was the construction of the Crisps Creek Intermodal Facility,” he said.

“The Tarago community was further promised that waste trains would never be parked within the town boundaries of Tarago.”

Tarago resident Paige Davis said there had been a lack of community consultation about the new rail siding, though Veolia has said it has consulted on this project.

“I have spent the last month trying to get detailed information about this consultation and have repeatedly hit brick walls,” Ms Davis said. 

TADPAI members believe Transport for NSW should be abiding by Veolia’s original request to extend Crisps Creek Siding. 

They said there were other solutions available including constructing a rail spur directly into a rail hub within the Woodlawn Eco Precinct that could be used by Veolia, or Heron Resources; or to develop the Inveralochy Rail Siding.

A Transport for NSW spokesperson said the location of facilities was “a matter for local council and planning authorities”.

“Under the Restart NSW Fixing Country Rail program, an application by Veolia Environmental Services has been supported to extend the existing passing loop,” the spokesperson said.

“The extended passing loop will deliver significant community benefits as it will temporarily hold empty trains allowing the loaded trains to move directly to Veolia’s Crisps Creek unloading facility.

“The existing passing loop is short, meaning loaded waste trains need to be broken up, shunted and stored for extended periods.

“Extending the passing loop will ensure loaded trains no longer need to be broken up and shunted at this site because they can be moved directly to the site.

“John Holland Rail is working with Regional Development Australia to deliver the project and have been meeting and consulting with the community. Veolia has also established a local consultative committee.”

Woodlawn facilities manager Henry Gundry said they would act in the best interests of the community.

“Working in partnership with the NSW Government, the local community and rail operator, we have and will continue to assess all options available in relation to the movement and management of all waste,” he said. 

“We can confirm our compliance with due process as set out by the NSW Government through Transport for NSW. Having worked in the area for almost 20 years, Veolia is an active member of TADPAI, contribute considerable funding to support the community through the Veolia Mulwaree Trust, employ a number of local residents and take our role as a member of the local community very seriously. 

“Veolia has put forward a number of solutions and will continue to work closely with all stakeholders to determine the most appropriate outcome for extension of rail movements, which both comply with all planning regulations, and pay the utmost respect to the needs and safety of the local community.”

This story Town is in a stink first appeared on Goulburn Post.