Reservoir Paper Recycler Can’t Stop Stink That Looks Like Ham

One of the chimneys emitting fragrant vapor from the Visy factory.Credit:Jason South

The Reservoir paper mill, one of eight across the country, receives paper and cardboard that is recycled into new paper products.

Large chimneys above the mill release steam from the water-intensive paper processing process, which smells of sulfides and volatile fatty acids – sometimes smelling of vinegar and at other times the trap to grease.

Houda Ahmed, a mother of five, who also lives just opposite the factory, said she had booked her 10-year-old daughter, Narene, for a nasal specialist due to the constant presence of blood when she was blowing.

“My son Mohammed, he always complains of headaches. His nose is stuffy a lot, he can’t speak properly,” she said. Ahmed also said she struggled with mold in her home as she couldn’t open the windows due to the constant smell.

“I want them [temporarily] shut down the plant because it’s running 24/7,” said resident Chris Wilkinson.

“They say they can’t start building shells before their downtime. I want them to stop [now]fix it, then reboot.

The company has received four notices of redress from the Environmental Protection Authority so far since the end of 2020. Last year, the watchdog fined the empire $9,000. recycling after failing to remedy the smell.

But locals say the fine would have been a ‘small change’ for the business, with the personal wealth of Anthony Pratt and his family, behind the Visy empire, standing at $24.30 billion – making them the fifth richest family in Australia.

This week, the EPA issued another “formal warning” to the company for missing the design production deadline to modify two exhaust stacks that are the premises’ biggest odor contributors. No fine was imposed.


“Visy currently has plans to repair the hood exhausts and four roof chimneys by mid-2023, and these will be required in an updated notice to be served shortly,” a spokesperson said. from the EPA.

Although the EPA maintains that the substances are not harmful to long-term health, it acknowledges that the smell has “very real” temporary health effects.

“There’s no immediate toxic reaction because the odor just isn’t concentrated enough to cause this stuff,” said EPA senior odor engineer Chris Bydder.

“What it does is stimulate your sense of smell, and if you stimulate your sense of smell too much, you can get irritated – you can get headaches for example,” said Bydder, also a local who said that he walked through the stench of the reservoir every day.

“The smell stimulates a whole central nervous system and when that happens you can have other ripple effects – you start to get stressed, there’s also a feeling of helplessness. We certainly see a heavy burden for mental health in people who are continually exposed to odors.”

Reservoir joins Kealba and Cranbourne on the list of Melbourne communities pushing for action against the stench in their suburbs. The last two suburbs both face chronic odors from nearby landfills.

Earlier this week, the environmental watchdog published Cranbourne’s SBI inert dump with a notice of intent to suspend its operating license for failing to remediate a putrid stench from rotting waste mixed with water.

The EPA last month also refused a request from cement producer Barro Group to extend the date of their environmental action notice for a landfill in Kealba, west Melbourne, which has been burnt underground for nearly three years.

Visy did not respond to age for comment.

The company is hosting an EPA-mandated community meeting to speak to residents on Monday, September 12 at the Reservoir Community and Learning Center on Edwardes Street from 5-7 p.m.

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