Council’s next gig: rubbish dump in town’s centre

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

And now for the next council project: have the rubbish dump in the middle of the town. To be sure, the “landfill” isn’t moving – although it clearly should be. But the town is: the suburb of Kilgariff – up to 1000 people – is being developed some 10 kms south, on the landfill side of the Gap.

 

As well, there are the rural residential subdivisions, Rangeview Estate, Heffernan Road, Emily Hills, Ross Highway and Ilparpa, all popular because they are safe.

 

And there’s Ron Sterry’s subdivision – up to 400 blocks – biding its time until the town recovers from its slump.

 

All of them are south of The Gap, formerly the entrance to our town but soon to be smack-bang in its centre, the dominating features of which are the tip and the sewage plant, evaporating billions of liters of water every year, and occupying two square kilometres of prime freehold land, not encumbered by native title.

 

The same job could be done with a recycling plant that would fit on two hectares, massively reduce water supply concerns – and wouldn’t stink.

 

Immediately west

of the dump is the magnificent southern flank of the MacDonnell Range with a dozen gullies rivalling King’s Canyon in beauty – a trekker’s paradise. Isn’t that just what our decimated tourism industry needs?

 

You can walk to it from the tourist precinct – but you’d be threading your way between the “turd farm” and the dump. These observations aren’t new: The Alice Springs News Online raised them in October 1998 in our Sewage Plant Dossier.

 

Yet despite sustained calls for closing the “evaporation ponds” and shifting the tip to Brewer Estate, well out of town, the council is negotiating for adjacent land to expand the dump, locking it into position forever and a day.

 

These negotiations are going on under virtually complete exclusion of the public – as is the council’s wont, on too many occasions.

 

Coyly tucked away on page 9 of the council’s Draft Municipal Plan 2012 – 2016, currently on public display, is this: Long Term Major Initiatives … Regional Landfill Facility – Development of a regional landfill, asbestos and recycling facility ($14.2 million).

We asked the council: Senior staff is making enquiries about the block west of the tip with the view of expanding it – who owns the block? How would it be acquired? Has the issue been discussed in council? Has there been a vote on the issue, and if so, how did it go?

 

Has there been discussion (historically) about shifting the dump to elsewhere, including Brewer Estate? What would be the capital works cost of such a move of the dump? Would there be any increased running costs, and what would they be? What are they now?

 

Would the transfer station under construction now be suitable for rubbish being dropped there by the public for eventual transfer to another dump site?

 

All we got back was this: “As briefly mentioned in the ASTC Municipal Plan … council is investigating expansion of the current landfill site to enable development of a regional landfill, asbestos and recycling facility.

 

“Negotiations are currently underway with the relevant parties to progress this development. Everything Council has done at the current landfill site has been done with the aim of extending its operational life.

 

“Closing a landfill site and opening another at a different location would cost at least $20m, not including the cost of land. All the work done in improving recycling at the landfill, which in the context of the isolation of Alice Springs isn’t economically a winner, makes sense in that it extends the life of the landfill by reducing the amount ending up in the general waste and thus extends the life of the site.

 

“The life of the current landfill site is now estimated at 18 to 20 years at projected fill rates. Under any foreseeable circumstances in the future there is no intent to look at an alternative site until much closer to the end of life of the current site.”

 

However, that, the Alice Springs News Online understands, is not going to be the end of the matter.

 

PHOTOS (from top): The dump and part of the sewage plant; the Gap and the South Stuart Highway is at the right of the frame. • Some of the gullies just west of the dump; the Desert Park is at top right of the frame. • The view to the west from half-way up of one of the gullies. • One of the magnificent ravines; it takes about two hours to get to the top. • Some of the climbs are easier than this. (Includes Google Earth photos.)

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3 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Leigh Childs
    Posted June 23, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Woodsy for PM …

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  2. Woodsy
    Posted June 21, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Sounds like a great idea … a rubbish tip in the middle of town.
    We could add it to our tourist attractions … the BIGGEST rubbish tip. Why should we hide our rubbish, our packaging, our consumer trash (buy for the sake of buying), our non repairable appliances, our throw away culture?
    Let’s put it in the middle of town … Kmart carpark would be a good place or next to the Post Office … let’s show off the whole gambit of our consumer culture from purchase to disposal (oh, we’ve left out manufacturing … let’s keep the really dirty bits overseas).
    It might help us to buy less, recycle more, compost food scraps, and work harder to clean up our own rubbish … or not make so much in the first place.

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  3. Hal Duell
    Posted June 18, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    OK. Council wants to perpetuate the current location of the town’s tip, and build on it to include new facilities such as asbestos handling and other waste management facilities. This will include a phoenix-rising Bower Bird shop.
    If that’s right, and I predict finances will prove it is, and clearly Alice is spreading south of the Gap, might this not give us the opening we need to address the woefully inadequate pedestrian crossing newly installed just north of the turn-off to the tip?
    No point in pretending that that section of road is still primarily the Stuart Highway. It’s now part of the road network internal to the enlarged town.
    So why not install a traffic light at the tip intersection and get rid of a pedestrian crossing that is clearly not a good idea at all?
    As it is, we KNOW someone will get run over, or a multi-vehicle pile-up is going to ruin someone’s day. If we let that happen, we will only have ourselves to blame.
    And do it before someone else gets killed and the blame-game gets another fairly predictable airing.
    A tamper-proof fence will have to go up from the entrance to the Gap south to the new traffic lights. No way I can see around that addition. Those used to walking across that road will just have to be herded until they learn that open access is no longer allowed.

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