30 January 2022

Moncrieff residents kick up a stink about sludge pit

| James Coleman
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The sludge pit in Moncrieff. Photo: ACT Greens.

Since residents first started living in Moncrieff just under a decade ago, they’ve have put up with litter blowing around their streets and the smell of rotting rubbish. Now, they’ve had enough.

The Moncrieff Landcare Group and ACT Greens candidate for Fenner Natasa Sojic are calling on the ACT Government to remove the problem – a ‘sludge pit’ or ‘drying pad’ adjacent to the Mirrabei Drive and Wanganeen Avenue roundabout.

The ACT is laced with a network of stormwater channels that take rain from suburban streets and feed it into our lakes and rivers. Grates are stationed along these channels to catch leaf litter, rubbish and the odd shopping trolley and prevent them from causing pollution problems further down the system.


Residents say that once dry, the wind picks up the rubbish and odour and blows it throughout Moncrieff. Photo: ACT Greens.

These grates clog over time and the resultant ‘sludge’ has to be cleared.

However, landfill sites won’t take wet waste, so the sludge is moved to a separate pit until it has dried off enough to be transferred.

Moncrieff has been home to one such pit ever since it was just an empty paddock more than two decades ago. As the northern suburb has grown, residences have drawn closer and closer to the pit, and the problem is now literally under their nose.

After picking up rubbish alongside volunteers from the Moncrieff Landcare Group, Ms Sojic realised it was all coming from one place.

“The sludge emits a terrible odour, and the rubbish is not contained, and often blows over the reserve, roads and surrounding residential area,” she said.

To make matters worse, she says the rubbish attracts vermin and predators such as snakes.

“This is a recreational area. People take their dogs for walks, go cycling, go on family walks, and the pit is a real hazard for them.”

Ms Sojic says she has also heard local residents describe the entrance to the pit as a major traffic hazard.

“There are several reports of near misses with the trucks accessing the pit on the Moncrieff Residents Facebook page.”

Since the petition was posted on 15 January 2022, it has received more than 400 signatures.

Ms Sojic says the ACT Government does seem to have responded in recent days by emptying the pit and mowing around its edges.

“Now we need the ACT government to commit to permanent action and find a new site away from people’s homes.”

The petition calls for the pit to be properly enclosed to contain rubbish and odour. But this is only an immediate and temporary solution.

Ultimately, petitioners want the pit removed and placed away from residential areas and closer to existing landfill sites.

Once in landfill, odour is managed by covering the waste with soil to a depth of 30 centimetres and treating the leachate and landfill gases with a commercial-spec deodoriser that is diluted and sprayed from the back of a water cart.

“Moncrieffians are very passionate about this issue,” Ms Sojic says.

“They have tried to remove the pit for a long time.”

The petition to remove the Moncrieff drying pad closes on 9 February.

Original Article published by James Coleman on Riotact.

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