Tarago odours

Information about monitoring for hydrgen sulphide in the Tarago area.

Veolia Environmental Solutions (Australia) Pty Ltd (Veolia) has made commitments to the NSW Government and community in relation to the expected environmental operation and performance of the landfill. We expect Veolia to honour those commitments.

We are working with DPE Planning to ensure that Veolia have appropriate safeguards in place to prevent offensive odours from the Woodlawn Landfill and that Veolia comply with all statutory requirements in major project approvals and environment protection licences. This has included

  • Pollution Reduction Programs on the licence including an investigation into the installation, commissioning and operation of a new monitoring station for meteorology and hydrogen sulphide in Tarago.
  • Comprehensive landfill surface gas monitoring and public reporting to assist in continuous improvements in landfill gas management.
  • Additional leachate treatment plant works to increase water extraction from the landfill to improve the efficiency of the gas extraction system.
  • An investigation into hydrogen sulphide gas emissions (rotten-egg smell) at the landfill  .
  • Penalty Notices for noncompliances with licence conditions.  
  • We conducted a hydrogen sulphide – ‘rotten egg’ gas study for six weeks from September 2021 to November 2021 in the Tarago area. 
  • Follow up on Annual Independent Odour Audit (major project approval) recommendations to mitigate odours including improvements to landfill gas collection efficiency and water management in the Bioreactor and use of biofiltration material to cover fugitive landfill gas emission points.
  • A Development Control Order (issued by DPE Planning) that requires Veolia to engage specialist(s) to develop short, medium, and long-term leachate and water management strategies within specified timeframes.

We encourage residents who experience odours to report to the 24-hour Environment Line on 131 555.

Monitor results

What do the charts show?

These charts show the results from seven hydrogen sulphide (rotten egg gas) monitors that the EPA deployed.

A vertical (up and down) line indicates where the monitor has detected hydrogen sulphide in a 10 minute sample, with the concentration of that detection indicated by the height of the line. 

You can see what the concentration of a particular detection was by looking across to the numbers shown on the vertical axis on the left of the chart, heights above the established odour threshold are also labelled with the concentration value.

Installation of monitors

The EPA installed seven monitors in the Tarago area to detect hydrogen sulphide (rotten egg gas), which has been a common type of odour reported by the community. Three of the monitors were placed in the vicinity of the Woodlawn landfill and accompanying Intermodal Facility, four were in the surrounding residential areas where odours are known to occur.

How do the monitors work?

The monitors are small (about the size of a litre carton of milk) and automatic. They take an air sample every 10 minutes and analyse it for hydrogen sulphide (rotten egg gas). Hydrogen sulphide is a heavier-than-air colourless gas with a rotten egg smell.

The monitors can detect levels as low as 0.003 parts of hydrogen sulphide per million parts of air (ppm), and as high as 2 ppm.

About half of people can smell hydrogen sulphide at a concentration of around 0.008 parts hydrogen sulphide per million parts of air (ppm), but some people can smell it at 0.0005 ppm while others first smell it at 0.3 ppm.

Do the odours cause health impacts?

(Information provided by NSW Health)

People can smell hydrogen sulphide (‘rotten egg’ gas) at low levels. About half of people can smell hydrogen sulphide at a concentration of around 0.008 parts hydrogen sulphide per million parts of air (ppm). There is variability in this however – some people can smell it at 0.0005 ppm while others first smell it at 0.3 ppm.

Exposure to these low concentrations of hydrogen sulphide may cause irritation to the eyes, nose or throat, and difficulties in breathing in people with asthma. Repeated exposures at these levels can also understandably cause anxiety and distress and result in indirect symptoms such as headaches and nausea.

These effects are likely to be minor and temporary and should stop once the air quality improves.

Hydrogen sulphide once it enters the body does not accumulate as it is rapidly processed in the liver and excreted in the urine.

If residents are concerned about their symptoms or if symptoms persist once the odours have ceased, they should seek advice from their local General Practitioner.

Reporting odours

Community reports can play an import role in the EPA’s investigation of odours. Important information on odours can be recorded using the EPA fact sheet and odour log sheet (PDF 160KB).

If you are experiencing odour impacts please contact our Environment Line on 131 555.

Page last updated