Melbourne Regional Landfill (MRL)
On 1 March 2015, Cleanaway took ownership and operational responsibility for the Melbourne Regional Landfill (MRL), adjacent to the Boral quarry on Christies Road, Ravenhall. With the change of ownership, we are also bringing a new, best-practice operational approach to ensure the MRL has minimal impacts on the environment and our community. We monitor all waste going into landfill, not only to comply with regulatory requirements, but to protect the health and safety of our staff, visitors and the broader community. The MRL accepts waste as defined by our EPA licence number (12160). This includes domestic or household waste from kerbside collection, putrescible waste, commercial and industrial waste, construction and demolition waste, low level contaminated soils, green garden waste and clean fill. This landfill does not accept asbestos, Cleanaway chose to have this condition removed from our licence. We work hard with our customers, waste suppliers and the community to ensure that no hazardous materials enter the site, and ensure that our customers and waste contractors have a good understanding of our site procedures and waste regulations. The Melbourne Regional Landfill Community Consultation Group (MRL CCG) was formed to build community understanding and confidence in the operation of landfill through the provision of factual information, monitoring data, presentations and site tours. It also aims to foster collaboration between the community, Cleanaway and regulators to ensure community concerns and aspirations regarding landfill at Ravenhall form part of Cleanaway’s decision making process. Cleanaway is excited about partnering with the local community to invest in big ideas that will make a sustainable future possible for generations to come. We believe that best programs for the community come from the community. Cleanaway’s MRL Community Benefit Fund will provide $50,000 to support local sustainability projects focused on environmental regeneration, recycling and community well-being in Caroline Springs, Deer Park and surrounding areas. If you have a great initiative that will make a difference, find out more about the Community Benefit Fund.
Working with the local community
At Cleanaway, we believe in maintaining positive and open relationships with the communities in which we operate. We are pleased to have established a new community reference group called the Melbourne Regional Landfill Community Reference Group (MRLCRG), with members of communities neighbouring the Melbourne Regional Landfill. MRLCRG – Terms of Reference The MRLCRG is an important part of our ongoing communication and consultation with the community. It plays an important role in facilitating the flow of information and ideas between Cleanaway, the EPA Victoria, local Councils and the community – helping to build a productive and positive working relationship. All meeting minutes and presentations will be publically available here throughout the year so please continue to check this site for updates.
Find out more about the Melbourne Regional Landfill
For further information, contact our Stakeholder and Community Relations Manager, Olga Ghiri on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also read more about some of the ‘facts’ about the Melbourne Regional Landfill here. For more information on landfill operations and the Melbourne Regional Landfill expansion you can also visit: Environmental Protection Authority Victoria – Licenses & Approvals Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning – Melbourne Regional Landfill expansion
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Update on Extension Applications In March 2017 the EPA made its decision granting a works approval over the southern part of the application area. This decision is being reviewed by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal. This link to the EPA’s website sets out information about the decision. In June 2017 the Planning Minister issued a planning permit over the southern part of the site: information regarding the decision is available here: Application Background and Materials On 29th February 2016 Cleanaway submitted its application documents for approvals to extend operations at the Melbourne Regional Landfill (MRL). For more information on the proposed extensions please see details contained in the Community Information Sessions – Q&As. A video explaining the extension application and our operations is also available Application Overview – Video. Cleanaway is applying for planning permission from the City of Melton and a Works Approval from the Victorian Environment Protection Authority (EPA). This page includes copies of the applications and supporting documentation submitted, via the links below. Note: in some cases the same document supports both applications – in those cases the document has been listed under each application. Some files are also large in size.
The Melbourne Regional Landfill powers around 4,000 homes through electricity generated by landfill gas. Landfill gas is a natural by-product of decomposing waste. It’s made up of about 50% methane – the major component of the natural gas used at home – and about 50% carbon dioxide. By increasing our capacity to capture landfill gas at the site, we not only reduce the potential for odour, but also convert it into renewable energy. The collection of landfill gas happens through a well network that extracts the gas and transports it via a flowline to our on-site Biogas energy plant. Once inside the plant, the landfill gas is used to power generators that produce electricity that is fed straight back into the local electricity grid.
We power around 4,000 homes with the gas generated onsite. -Nick, Landfill Operations Manager
By increasing our capacity to capture landfill gas at the site, we not only reduce the potential for odour, but also convert it into renewable energy.
We continue to tackle climate change by reducing our greenhouse emissions through the responsible management of our landfill gas.
The gas produced at landfills like the Melbourne Regional Landfill is made up of about 50% methane – the major component of the natural gas used at home – and about 50% carbon dioxide.
Once inside the plant, the landfill gas is used to power generators that produce electricity that is fed straight back in to the local electricity grid – powering around 4,000 homes.
We’re all working hard to protect the environment for the next generation. From air quality to the production of renewable energy and water quality, we work hard to ensure there is no unacceptable risk to the health of the local community. We are committed to ensuring the operations at the Melbourne Regional Landfill have a minimal impact on the local community. Part of what we do includes daily monitoring and visual inspections of the landfill area to remove any litter.
The only visible waste is at the operating face of the landfill. -Nick, Landfill Operations Manager Landfill operations occur in a staged approach – that is we operate one active cell at a time. Out of the 15 acre active cell, the only exposed area of waste at any given time is not much bigger than the size of an Olympic swimming pool. We work with the local council and Victorian EPA to ensure that a capped landfill matches the contours of the local environment at the Melbourne Regional Landfill. Once an active landfill cell is filled to capacity we install additional gas extraction technology and cap the site with clay, soil and grass that is native to the local area.
We’ve heard local residents’ concerns about site odour, and we’re working to minimise its impact. -Darren, Site Supervisor We’re installing more gas extraction systems onsite to turn the extracted landfill gas into renewable energy for the local community. We’re working hard at the site to reduce the impact of any odour on the local community by ensuring the landfill is capped with soil at the end of every day and we capture as much biogas as possible. We inspect our site daily including the site boundaries and landfill surface, to quickly identify and address any issues.
We manage the number of vehicles visiting the site to minimise the impact on the local community. -Shaun, Weighbridge Operator We’re strict on safety at the Melbourne Regional Landfill and this includes all the drivers that enter our site. The main access to the landfill is along Christies Road, which together with vehicles routes from the Western Freeway, Ballarat Road and Hopkins Road have been designed to minimize impacts on the local community. Between 300 and 400 trucks visit the landfill each day. We currently work onsite from 12am until 5pm, and our permit allows us to manage operations outside of this, if required.
Everything we do is with the environment in mind. I can see firsthand how investing in technology onsite is helping us to do this. To protect the local environment we take and test samples of the on site groundwater quarterly. We actively extract leachate from all our landfill cells and put it into evaporation ponds. This also helps to reduce any odour. When organic matter decomposes a liquid called leachate is produced. We manage the leachate onsite so that it does not contaminate the local water supply by collecting and treating. We reduce future impacts on soil, air and water quality in the local community by capping all landfill cells once they have been filled
Independent Odour Monitoring Program On 8 June 2017 the report by the independent planning panel, appointed by the Minister for Planning, to consider Cleanaway’s landfill extension application, was released, supporting Cleanaway’s proposal to implement various odour management and monitoring procedures around the perimeter of the landfill. On Monday 26 June 2017, an independent consultancy with odour surveillance and monitoring expertise began an odour monitoring program in connection with the landfill. The consultants will be in the area checking for odour at different times and different locations over the coming months. The program involves routine odour monitoring in areas around the landfill and on routes that take into account odour complaints received from members of the community. Contact our Community Hotline on 1800 213 753 if you detect any odour and believe the source is our landfill – we are best able to address odour concerns if notified immediately. When you contact the Community Hotline we will immediately investigate the report. Where possible, a Cleanaway environmental specialist and/or an independent odour specialist will visit the complaint location investigate the complaint and identify the source or cause. If the landfill is the source of the odour, on-site mitigation measures can then be taken. For more information about the program, you can view our residents communication here.
8 June 2017
The Melbourne Regional Landfill is located at 714 Christies Road and 227 Riding Boundary Road, Ravenhall 3023, within a Special Use Zone. The site is open Monday to Friday 12:00am – 5:00pm, weekends 12:00am – 4:00pm and Public Holidays 12:00am – 4:00pm
The landfill is a highly engineered and intensely regulated landfill, providing a vital community service that safely manages household and business waste that cannot be recycled.
Cleanaway will soon lodge a Planning Permit application with Melton Council and a Works Approval application with the Victorian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) seeking approvals to extend the footprint of its operations. Part of Melbourne’s critical infrastructure, the landfill provides metropolitan communities, councils, industry and businesses to safely dispose of waste that can’t be recycled. Our application for a site extension will allow us to continue to follow the quarry’s activities by filling in the open void. The quarry next door is owned and operated by Boral and is licenced to operate for at least another fifty years.
Yes. Cleanaway’s application is significantly different to the application lodged in 2014 by the previous owner. The differences are:
We estimate between 7 to 10 years remains at the site with current permits. Our priority is to continue meeting the community’s essential waste service needs with minimal impact on the local community.
A key part of best practice waste management is forward planning by both regulators and operators. Long-term certainty allows us to plan vital infrastructure solutions for storm water, site rehabilitation and landfill gas extraction. The State Government has earmarked the Ravenhall site as a “Waste Hub of State Importance”, and a critical piece of metropolitan infrastructure to help safely dispose of the community’s future waste management needs. Cleanaway is seeking approvals for the extension now, so that any delay in extension approvals, does not impact on our ability to continue to provide a vital waste management service and to have community waste safely disposed of. Long term planning also allows us to plan for a future beyond the landfill as we continue to invest in recycling and renewable energy technologies.
The planning permit application and the EPA works approval application are separate processes. The site is zoned “Special Use Zone” and a permit is required for development of a landfill. A landfill is also a ‘scheduled premises’ that means it needs a works approval and EPA licence to be developed. We have chosen to make the applications together because it will enable a full and thorough assessment to be undertaken. There is a difference in the footprints covered by our planning application and our works approval application. The works approval application seeks approval for a 30 year landfill – this is the extent of the timeframe the EPA currently grants licences for. The planning application covers a larger area to ensure the continuity of safe waste management services in line with the State Government’s identification of Ravenhall as a piece of metropolitan Melbourne’s critical infrastructure. The additional footprint is still within the quarry boundaries, and extends further into the quarry and landfill site. Obtaining planning permission over this additional area will not enable us to landfill it. Before a landfill can be extended into this area a works approval would be required from the EPA, and that application would have to include all the additional detail required by the EPA at that time.
Usually planning applications are assessed by the local Council (in this case Melton City Council). Works approval applications are assessed by the EPA. In this case the current government has indicated its intention to ‘call-in’ the application for review. A ‘call-in’ is where the Victorian Government’s Planning Minister makes a decision about a planning application, rather than the local Council. The Minister may also appoint an advisory committee or panel to assess the application and make recommendations about an application. The Minister then decides on the outcome of the application. A panel is a forum for the community and other stakeholders to make and hear submissions relating to an application. After we submit the applications, the relevant government agencies will be in a position to provide further information on the process, and the opportunities for involvement and submissions by stakeholders.
We have stringent processes in place and will only accept waste that is defined in our EPA Licence number 12160. That is putrescible and solid inert waste. Putrescible waste comprises of household and commercial waste that naturally breaks down, while solid inert waste does not decompose, such as construction waste.The Melbourne Regional Landfill site does not accept Asbestos.
The Melbourne Regional Landfill has been in operation since 1999, long before the current housing estates and business precincts were established. Cleanaway took over landfill operations in 2015 and since that time we have made significant engineering and environmental improvements to the site.
Landfill operations work by utilising an active cell that has an operational face. The operational face is the only area of exposed waste at any time. This means that although the cell in use may be around 15 acres in size, the only part of that area that is open at any given time is about the size of an Olympic swimming pool. Only one active cell is in use at any time with only one operational face. The operational face expands and contracts through the day as vehicles arrive to deposit their loads and is covered each and every day at the end of operations. The active cell is constructed within the existing quarry void. As the active cell reaches capacity, landfilling then progresses to the next active cell, and then the next, until the void is filled. Each active cell takes approximately 12-24 months to fill. Once the active cell reaches capacity it is ready for capping and gas extraction infrastructure installation. The cap is an impermeable layer of soil and plastic that is designed to keep rainwater out of the waste, as well as capture landfill gas for extraction. The cap is then grassed with using native, local species that match the surrounding environment and is then open to the community for passive recreation purposes such as sporting fields and parks.
The landfill will not be the size of 105 MCG’s. The operational face is the only area of exposed waste at any time and is the size of an Olympic swimming pool. Landfilling will only ever take place within the already extracted quarry void. An extension to the current licenced area will simply allow us to continue landfilling in the open voids, post quarrying activities.
Generally the peak height of the capped landfill is 40m above the natural ground level. The height cannot exceed permitted maximum contour levels and the site is surveyed regularly to ensure the height remains in accordance with our approved contours and height limits set by council. For example, the view of the landfill from Christies Rd is representative of the general height and grade of any future approved and completed landfill. The landfill, once capped and covered with native vegetation, will appear in line with the natural landform of the western plains area.
As part of best practice landfill operations, once landfill cells are filled to the approved contour level, we move to a capping, or rehabilitation phase. This involves the construction of an impervious “cap” over the waste, which is then vegetated with native grasses. The purpose of the cap is to ensure that no rain enters the waste mass, as well as assist with landfill gas capture. The cap also means that the landfill cell remains in post closure phase where we continue to monitor gas and leachate generation rates and manage them to keep the environment safe. The capping process is regulated under our EPA licence, with both the design and construction of the cap independently audited to meet the specifications of the Victorian Best Practice Environmental Management (BPEM) guidelines. The actual construction of the cap is undertaken by a specialist contractor engaged by Cleanaway as part of a competitive tender process.
There is no scientific evidence that professionally managed landfills cause harm to local residents, animals or the environment. We employ environmental specialists, construction engineers and highly experienced operators to conduct rigorous and ongoing construction and monitoring activities at the site to ensure we meet environmental compliance standards and can respond to any issues as a matter of priority.
Yes. The landfill currently receives waste from homes and businesses in the broader metropolitan Melbourne area. We have no plans to accept waste that falls outside the current metropolitan Melbourne area.
Our staff conduct daily onsite inspections along the site boundaries, at the landfill surface and at the leachate infrastructure. Since taking ownership of the landfill in March 2015, Cleanaway has invested heavily in infrastructure upgrades and implemented numerous aesthetic and operational improvements. Our daily site inspections include many checks, such as: The condition of interim capped areas;
- Checking the integrity of our lids and seals on our leachate sumps and landfill gas
- Monitoring of local climatic conditions
- Monitoring our water dams to ensure adequate aeration; and
- Ensuring adequate soil cover over waste at the active cell. components.
In addition, we have undertaken the following actions to control any potential for odour: The active face has been reduced to 1800m2
- Installed additional gas wells
- Applied an interim cap to inactive areas of the landfill
- Introduced a procedure to ensure the deep burial hole is covered at all times
- Installed odour suppression infrastructure; and
- Installed cap lids on leachate sumps.
Our highly trained and specialist staff regularly monitor all activities from cell construction to operations and site rehabilitation, to ensure our landfill meets Best Practice Environmental Management (BPEM) guidelines, which are in accordance with our EPA licence conditions. In addition, we employ specialist engineers and consultants to conduct numerous air and water quality monitoring activities and thorough environmental works schedules. These site management plans are approved by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), and include:
- Landfill gas management
- Stormwater management; and
- Groundwater quality management.
Since taking over the site, we have also conducted many other remediation activities to target specific areas of community concern including: Litter A new 12 metre high litter fence captures onsite litter and our new dedicated litter crews collect any off site stray litter as a priority. We conduct a sweep of Christies Road twice a day from the railway overpass to the site entrance. All materials accepted at the active operational face of the landfill are covered daily to reduce the likelihood of odour and litter escaping the site. Dust Internal and main access roads are regularly sprayed with water to minimise dust. Soil stockpiles are also sprayed with water to further reduce dust. Road mud The use of wheel washes, rumble bars and well-formed internal haul roads minimise muddy roads, and we have purchased a dedicated street sweeper for the site. Noise Access routes and speeds of vehicles are restricted to minimise noise disturbance and increase road safety in the local community. All operations are conducted in accordance within times specified within the site’s permit conditions. Traffic The site entrance is located on Christies Road and access areas are designed to minimise vehicles queuing along public roads, as well as assisting in the control of dirt from the site. All transporters are informed of the appropriate roads to travel on to get to the site.
Landfill gas is a natural by-product of waste decomposing in the landfill. Landfill gas is made up of methane (approximately 55%) and carbon dioxide (approximately 43%) as well as minor trace gases such as hydrogen sulphide. Landfill gas is collected from the landfill through our extensive network of gas extraction wells onsite. The gas is transported via this network of ‘flowlines’ to our onsite Biogas to Energy plant. The energy produced onsite is then used to power generators that produce electricity. This electricity is then fed back into the local electricity grid to power local homes and businesses. About 34,000 megawatts of energy is produced this with, which equates to powering 4,000 local each day. We have plans to expand this renewable technology so that we can feed additional electricity back into the local grid.
On average, 300 to 400 trucks tip a day onsite. This is dependent on seasonal factors and the many construction projects currently active across metropolitan Melbourne.
The main truck routes to the Melbourne Regional Landfill are the Western Freeway, Christies Rd, Ballarat Rd and Hopkins Rd. The highest concentration of waste trucks is along Christies Rd which is the main access to the landfill site. Caroline Springs Boulevard is the main residential road that is used primarily for kerbside waste collections and local residential construction waste in the local area. This includes waste collection from local shopping centres, schools, sporting venues, business precincts and many other community centres in the area.
The bulk of the waste trucks that complete their collections are enclosed with no waste exposed. Typically, open top trucks carry construction waste or hard waste such as timber and they usually have covers on them to secure their load that aren’t always visible from road level. As with all vehicular movements on public roads, trucks are required to adhere to Vic Road regulations. The drivers and companies operating these trucks are responsible for ensure each load is secure in line with these regulations.
We monitor incoming waste in three ways:
What is the volume of waste dumped at the landfill each year?Over the last financial year the site received around 700,000 tonnes of waste.
We carry out extensive monitoring of emissions from the landfill cap, the operational face, perimeter monitoring bores as well as the biogas to energy plant and flares onsite. We do this to not only reduce the risk of odour escaping the site, but to also ensure the health and safety of the local community and environment.We are legally required to annually report landfill emissions from the Melbourne Regional Landfill to the National Pollution Inventory (NPI). Further information can be obtained at the National Pollution Inventory (NPI) website: www.npi.gov.au
No issues with the quality of local groundwater quality have been identified to date. We work closely with the EPA appointed Environmental Auditor to collect all required groundwater samples and information for regular assessment. The sampling results are independently assessed. The environmental performance of the site is reported annually as part of our Annual Performance Statement (APS) which is publicly available on the Victorian EPA website. www.epa.vic.gov.au
We control vermin onsite by covering the active operational face with a 300mm thick layer of soil every day. We are also examining methods such as light reflecting prisms to discourage seagulls.
The purpose of the dam is to store and treat water from the landfill that has come into contact with waste (called leachate). Water accumulates in the landfill due to rainfall and liquids present in within the waste itself and settles on the impermeable liner system across the base of the landfill.The EPA requires that this leachate is pumped from the landfill cell and stored, treated and disposed of in accordance with landfill best practice regulations. This is to ensure local groundwater supplies remain clean.As the site is capped, the amount of leachate generated decreases. Leachate in the dam will be treated using floating mechanical aerator units. These units agitate the water to ensure that oxygen is mixed into the water and prevents the leachate from becoming odorous. This is a common method used by water authorities in Australia to treat wastewater. Once treated, the water is then safely disposed of into the domestic sewerage system.
We are genuinely interested in engaging with the community, and have introduced a number of initiatives to keep the local residents and business owners informed about our landfill. These include:
- Introduced a 24-hour community hotline – 1800 213 753
- Constructed a Community Information Centre at the Ravenhall site
- Formed a community consultation group – Melbourne Regional Landfill Community Consultation Group (MRLCCG), consisting residents and representatives from Stop the Tip, EPA, Brimbank and Melton Councils, and Cleanaway personnel.
We are also planning other exciting initiatives for the community in the near future, such as:
- Providing interactive waste management education programs for local schools to assist students to understand how waste is managed in the community, the role of landfills and the merits of recycling.
- Investing in our local community by providing sponsorships and community grants to local community groups.