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STP cost overrun looms

Geoff Helisma | Remediation of Clarence Valley Council’s former sewerage treatment plants (STP) at Maclean, Ilarwill and Townsend is nearing the budget estimate for the works. The report to the May 22 council meeting noted that there was $147,000 left in the $1.95million project’s budget, including 15 per cent for variations. Completion of the project has taken longer than expected and, to date; six approved variations amounting to $196,475.21 have been approved, according to the report to council. The report identified an extra 600 tonnes of unexpected contaminated soil at the former Townsend STP, over and above the “provisional allowance in the contract sum for 75 tonnes of material being disposed to landfill”. At the May 15 Corporate, Governance & Works Committee meeting, the mayor, Jim Simmons, asked if the extra 600 tonnes of contaminated material would cause a budget “blowout”. Works and Civil director Troy Anderson said a “variation will have to come back to council … it is most likely to be outside of the budgeted amount”. Mr Anderson confirmed Cr Karen Toms’ presumption that if the variation exceeds the budget that it would be funded by CVC’s sewer fund. Councillor Debrah Novak asked “why is there was such a difference” between the previously estimated 75 tonnes the current estimate of a total of 675 tonnes? Mr Anderson said the initial site “investigation was based on testing at previous projects – we don’t know what’s under the ground until we start moving … the earth that is contaminated”. “It also depends on the EPA’s qualification in regard to what material can go where, so it’s not till you open things up that can you find…. “The 75 was based on what was tested and what was believed to be there, based on previous projects; but now there have been some changes in regard to the methodology, etcetera, which has now boosted the amount to be removed,” he said. Cr Novak also asked if an analysis of the contaminants had been completed. Mr Anderson took the question on notice. Governance director Laura Black subsequently confirmed in an email to councillors that “the waste stockpile material identified at the site has inclusions of concrete, PVC pipe, plastic, wood, geofabric, asphalt and asbestos containing materials (ACMs)”. “The stockpile will need to be disposed of off-site in accordance with NSW EPA waste classification guidelines (2014), taking into consideration the presence of asbestos,” she wrote. The report to council notes that CVC has had “approval … granted by Queensland and NSW authorities for transport of up to 600 tonnes of contaminated material to landfill”. The cost of this might be similar to the $70 per tonne cited for transporting contaminated material from the former South Grafton STP. However, at this time, the Queensland Government is considering whether or not to reimpose a levy on all waste materials being dumped at Ipswich (and elsewhere), including those crossing the border. “The Government should consider implementing a general levy on all waste disposed of at landfill in Queensland,” wrote in its response to its Investigation into the transport of waste into Queensland, March 2018 report. The Qld Government’s environment minister and department are “corresponding [with] ministers and agencies in other Australian states and territories about the design and implementation of a national framework that would reduce or limit the unnecessary transportation of waste within Australia”. The 75 tonnes of biosolid contaminated waste is most likely to be disposed of locally and could even be sold to someone who can use it, Mr Anderson confirmed when answering a question from Cr Toms.