A POOWONG abattoir has been fined over an “offensive odour” that affected nearby residents, according to Victoria’s environmental regulator.

The Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) issued GPB Australia with the $8261 fine for breaching its licence conditions with an odour that escaped the property, and required the company to plan improvements to prevent odour from escaping the premises in future.

EPA Gippsland regional manager Jessica Bandiera said repeated reports from nearby residents prompted the investigation.

“The odour problem was particularly bad through the 2019/20 summer, and neighbours described a rancid/rotten smell that drifted to their homes,” Ms Bandiera said.

“The transient nature of odour made it necessary to conduct a series of inspections. Then in February, an inspection of the Gardner Lane premises at Poowong found odour was clearly present.”

Ms Bandiera said EPA officers specially trained to classify odours detected a strong odour with rendering and meaty characteristics near the premises’ biofilter, and a strong odour with rendering and cheese characteristics near the rendering plant shed.

EPA issued a Pollution Abatement Notice (PAN) requiring the company to develop a plan to prevent offsite odour from the plant, and the company has complied with the notice. EPA also recommended the company make improvements to its biofilter and the building to reduce the likelihood of odour escaping in future.

The EPA said it also planned to issue the company with a second PAN, requiring it to put its odour control plan into action.

“A case like this is disappointing because while the odour was not constant, making it difficult to prove with a single inspection, it was quite obviously an offensive odour that was leaving the premises,” Ms Bandiera said.

“The company could have voluntarily undertaken work to contain the odour and avoided a fine, saved the time spent by EPA on the investigation, and prevented considerable discomfort to nearby residents,” she said.

“Businesses have a clear responsibility to the community when it comes to problems with odour, and if they don’t meet that responsibility, EPA will take regulatory action to bring their activities into compliance with the law.”

Under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Infringements Act 2006, the company has the right to have the decision to issue the infringement notice reviewed or alternatively to have the matter heard and determined by a court.

Members of the public can report pollution by calling EPA’s 24-hour hotline on 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).