Environmental upgrades underway at Summerhill Waste Management Centre

20 Sep 2021

City of Newcastle will deliver approximately $6 million in environmental upgrades at Summerhill Waste Management Centre, including new systems to prevent pollution of water and manage leachate.

The work includes upgrading an alarm system which failed in January 2021, leading to an overflow that City of Newcastle reported to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and ultimately saw it fined $15,000.

The work also includes connecting of storage tanks to Summerhill’s leachate system and increasing its capacity.

Manager Waste Services Troy Uren said that the leachate overflow incident occurred in January during a period of heavy rainfall with work now underway to improve environmental monitoring.

"Our leachate storage overflowed during heavy rain in January as a result of a fault in the telemetry system alarm, which triggers when the storage tank is nearing capacity, but did not activate," Mr Uren said.

"City of Newcastle reported the incident to the EPA and accepts the $15,000 fine for the failure of the alarm, which ultimately led to the overflow of leachate into the surface water system, but caused negligible environmental harm.

"We've since been working with the EPA to address the matter and have initiated a robust environmental program that will improve the separation of leachate and surface water systems to prevent this from happening again.

The leachate overflow occurred in an area that predates the existing engineered, lined landfill and the measures we are taking aim to connect the older infrastructure to the site’s modern leachate system while upgrading the overall leachate capacity.”

This work is part of a broader investment into upgrading environmental controls at Summerhill which includes an increased capacity of storage tanks, upgraded capacity of stormwater systems on site and new vehicle wheel wash infrastructure to reduce sediment.

A significant program of environmental works, which will address immediate, interim and long-term environmental compliance of the site is underway at Summerhill Waste Management Centre following the recent awarding of two contracts to implement Stormwater and Leachate Management, Environmental Improvement and Public Amenity Programs.