Thursday, 5 March 2020
Welcome news this week; the bushfires that have tested and damaged our community this summer have been extinguished.
The challenge now from those hard days is the clean-up, rebuild and recovery effort. The issues that emerge are something the whole community needs to face and work out together.
One of the key steps in the job ahead is being able to safely and properly dispose of the large amount of damaged building material that comes from the 448 homes and over 1000 sheds and out buildings destroyed, as well as a large amount of burnt organic matter and other materials.
Current estimates put the total amount of material from buildings to be disposed of at around 140,000 cubic metres. That’s around five times the volume of waste normally received in a year at the Central Waste Facility.
“In the early days of the fire response the NSW Government asked us to investigate using sites at Cobargo, Bermagui, and Eden,” says Anthony McMahon, Director Assets and Operations.
“We had started planning and making preparations at those sites so that when the clean up started we were ready.
“A number of community members, especially at Cobargo raised concerns with the plans, which we have heard.”
What has evolved is a proposal to utilise the shire’s Central Waste Facility (CWF), a more modern and fit for purpose facility on Wanatta Lane, North West of Wolumla.
Around 70,000 cubic metres of the material needing disposal is believed to be contaminated with asbestos, Council is hoping to recycle or repurpose as much of the remaining uncontaminated material as possible.
The proposal from the NSW Government is that the disposal of contaminated waste and the processing of reclaimed material happens at the Central Waste Facility.
“There is a real need to get going on the clean-up, so we met with residents around the CWF this morning to outline the proposal,” Mr McMahon says.
“Thank you to those who were able to make it at short notice; for those who couldn’t be there we are looking to make direct contact with you now.
“Understandably locals were concerned and raised questions about noise, increased truck movements, visual impacts on the landscape and understanding potential hazards tied to asbestos.
“It’s a difficult situation for any community to be in and we will work with residents to mitigate the impacts and address their concerns.
“I was heartened to hear that generally residents seemed happy with our management of the CWF to date and that they understood the role their community can play in the shire wide recovery effort.
“We will continue to work with the residents of Wanatta Lane and surrounding areas as this develops,” Mr McMahon says.
The NSW Government has appointed Laing O’Rourke to manage the clean up of impacted properties across NSW. Representatives of the company are in Cobargo now meeting with property owners. All involved are wanting to see a start on this key but challenging task soon.
The use of the Central Waste Facility near Wolumla is an important component in that work progressing.
“We will continue to keep the Bega Valley informed as the recovery effort takes shape,” Mr McMahon says.
It’s critical that anyone impacted by the bushfires of December, January and February register with Service NSW in order to access the FREE clean up arrangements through Laing O’Rourke. To register with Service NSW call 13 77 88 or visit the Service NSW website.
For more on the recovery services and assistance available check Council’s website.
Photograph: Anthony McMahon, Director Assets & Operations and Kurt Marsh, Acting Waste Services Manager at the Central Waste Facility.