POOWONG community members attended an open information session last week following an application by the local abattoirs to build a high temperature rendering (HTR) plant.
A works approval application for the HTR is before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Last Wednesday afternoon the EPA and applicants GBP Exports held the drop-in style information session at the Poowong Recreation Reserve.
Project managers from the EPA were on-hand to discuss the works approval process and answer any questions from the community.
Process Engineering manager Glenn Jacobsen also attended to speak to the community on behalf of GBP Exports about the project.
He said he had received several queries about the planned works.
“I have had quite a few general questions about the plan and how it is going to work,” he said.
“We have all the plans here on display today and the company is being very transparent about how it is all going to work.”
Mr Jacobsen said many people had been concerned about how the project would impact the local area if it is approved.
“A lot of people are asking if outside products will be brought into the plant, which won’t be happening,” he said.
“The plant is designed to process onsite in an enclosed area.
“There will be a reduction in gut trucks because it is all going to obviously occur onside so they won’t be sending it down past the school anymore,” he said.
The totally enclosed facility has been described as ‘state-of-the art,’ and if approved will be only the second of its kind in Australia.
“The only other plant of this level of automation is in Darwin,” Mr Jacobsen said.
“Because it is enclosed, there are no odours, it is very efficient and very clean.”
Among the community members to attend the session were representatives from the nearby primary school and residents including Noel Tonkin whose property adjoins the applicant.
“They are trying to say that there won’t be any smell,” Mr Tonkin said.
“But they don’t have the capacity to get rid of the effluent they have now.”
Mr Tonkin said he has no issues with the abattoirs, noting they provide employment for many people in the town, but he believes they need to address current issues before they are able to construct more facilities at the plant.
“I just want them to operate within the law like I have to,” he said.
“They are saying that it is a state-of-the-art facility and no-one is going to be affected by it, but I have heard it all before with the upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant.”
Mr Tonkin says he has had ongoing issues with the abattoirs and he would like to see those fixed before any application is approved.
“I get animals coming across on to my property from them and there only needs to be one with a disease and I am out of business,” he said.
He also raised concerns about the lack of notice given to residents regarding the application, especially adjoining landowners.
“We as adjoining land holders didn’t get any information or notification about it,” he said.
“If I didn’t read that article in the Sentinel-Times, I wouldn’t have known it was happening.
“They at least could have had the courtesy to send a letter out to us, other than put a small ad from the EPA in the paper.”
Submissions for the application close this Thursday, September 17.