Ipswich Queensland suburbs where residents say they are falling sick from disgusting waste fumes
- Queensland’s Ipswich region polluted with fumes
- Smell causing rashes, vomiting and respiratory illnesses
- Odour coming from Swanbank Industrial Area
- Government received 30,000 odour complaints
The city of Ipswich in Queensland‘s south-east is renowned for its architectural, natural and cultural heritage but is quickly also gaining an unwanted reputation as one of the stinkiest places in Australia.
The region, about 40km west of Brisbane, is home to multiple composting, landfill and recycling facilities.
Residents from the city’s adjacent suburbs claim the smells coming from the Swanbank Industrial Area leave them struggling to breathe, dry retching and vomiting on a daily basis.
Close to 30,000 complaints have been made to the Queensland Government’s Odour Abatement Taskforce since 2018 from residents of adjacent suburbs complaining the smell is making them sick.
Residents exposed to the unpleasant smells describe the odours as like rotten eggs, sewage, fertiliser and chemicals.
Locals who live behind the facilities also fear the odours will have a direct effect on their health.
Alarmingly, residents in nearby Redbank Plains are diagnosed with lung cancer at 47 per cent above the Australian average, according to the Australian Cancer Atlas.
While locals in Collingwood Park, Springfield, Bellbird Park, Goodna and Redbank, are diagnosed at a rate ranging from 19 to 28 per cent above the national average.
Local woman Gillian Aberley submitted multiple reports to the Department of Environment and Science (DES) between April and December 2022.
She wrote in a report, obtained by the Courier Mail, that she ‘literally cannot breathe outside’ – with the smell starting from about 1am and becoming more intense throughout the day.
‘We’ve been prisoners in our own home,’ Ms Aberley told the Courier Mail.
‘Too afraid to have windows and doors open. Having to run an air conditioner constantly to get some sort of fresh air. It’s made our quality of life so poor due to significant health issues.’
She explained her son suffers from severe episodes of illness on a daily basis including his body being in a constant state of inflammation, with food, physical exertion and mental stress causing an allergic reaction.
Local woman Michelle Kate said she suffers from severe coughing, hives, burning skin, eye irritation, skin dryness and rashes from the smell.
Ms Kate added she has lived with the symptoms for two years – ever since she moved from interstate to Redbank Plains and Ripley.
‘Half the time I don’t want to leave the house but going for a walk when it smells makes me not want to exercise,’ she said.
I have been experiencing severe rashes and hives. If I touch any type of fertiliser I also break out in a rash, these rashes need a lot of medication to keep under control.’
Tracey Butler, another resident, said she opens the windows of her home only slightly and hopes not to get into a coughing fit.
She explained the odour causes her to break out into rashes when she spends time outdoors and her dog has even developed a rash on its body and must remain on medication to treat the condition.
Ms Butler started the ‘stop the stink’ petition in August and hopes recycling facilities in the Swanbank area are held accountable for odour emissions.
The petition has garnered close to 2,000 signatures in support, while its Facebook group of the same name boasts 2,078 members.
Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said the community is ‘incredibly frustrated’ as they have dealt with the odour for at least 10 years.
Ms Harding explained residents are forced to keep their windows and doors closed while inside their home for months at a time.
‘When these odours are at their worst, Council receives reports from residents with chest pains and respiratory issues, nausea and vomiting, sore throats and eyes, and headaches,’ Ms Harding told Courier Mail.
She added the city has waste operators which council ‘knows’ are not doing the right thing and their business is having a negative impact on residents’ quality of life.
‘It feels like they are making profits at the expense of our amenity and potentially our health,’ Ms Harding said.
In December 2020 council established the Waste and Circular Economy Transformation Policy Directive which is committed to review and reform waste infrastructure and minimise its impact on the community.
It’s understood the Department of Environment and Science (DES) has received close to 6,000 reports relating to odour in and around the Swanbank and New Chum industrial areas since January 1.
A DES spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia the department has been actively investigating odour nuisance reports and has conducted detailed inspections of facilities in the area.
‘Investigations in suburbs affected by odours along with information from community reports and weather monitoring technology, helped identify that composting facilities located in the Swanbank industrial area are most likely contributing to the odours,’ DES said.
‘Businesses involved in these activities are licenced by the department. They must comply with their environmental obligations and not cause unlawful harm to the environment or impact on the community.
‘In recent months, our compliance officers have conducted detailed site inspections of composting facilities in the Swanbank industrial area to determine compliance with the requirements of their environmental licences.
‘We are reviewing information gathered from these inspections. The results of scientific analysis of water, waste and compost product samples will determine potential enforcement action for any non-compliance.’
The department said results to date from water, waste and compost analysis do not indicate ‘any potential health concerns’.
‘Our compliance officers will continue to focus on waste activities in the Swanbank industrial area,’ DES said.
‘As the environmental regulator, DES takes environmental offences seriously and will continue to take strong enforcement action, including court action, in relation to contraventions of the Environmental Protection Act.’