Complaints of stench

Gibbston residents are losing patience over a smell described as being like ''leaking sewage'' coming from a nearby landfill.

Gibbston Community Association secretary Trish Mackenzie says residents and businesses have put up with the ''stench'' from the Victoria Flats landfill for years.

However, the Otago Regional Council says the landfill's operator, Scope Resources, is working hard to minimise the problem.

Mrs Mackenzie said if the landfill was a dairy farm, it would have been ''closed down or fined''.

''Personally, I think they should be more accountable. It's not good enough.''

As well as residents ''grizzling'' about the odour, it was commonplace for visitors to homes and businesses in the Gibbston valley to complain.

She described the smell as ''revolting - like leaking sewage''.

Scope Resources has a long-term contract to manage the landfill, which opened in 1999, on behalf of the Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago Districts. It is 19km from Queenstown, between the Victoria Bridge and the Nevis Bluff. Household, commercial,

special and hazardous waste from the Wakatipu and Central Otago is buried there.

Mrs Mackenzie said that at Scope Resource's request, a consultant environmental engineer advising the company on the issue had given a presentation at the association's annual meeting last month to explain what the company was doing to minimise the odour.

''The fact they're acknowledging there is a problem is a first step.''

However, the association wanted the company to set a timeline for resolving the problem, and would be discussing the issue at its next meeting, in a week's time.

Queenstown Lakes District Council communications manager Michele Poole said a council engineer had been contacted about the issue recently by a member of the public, while Otago Regional Council director of environmental monitoring and operations, Jeff Donaldson, said two complaints had been logged on its pollution hotline in the past three months.

Mr Donaldson said the regional council knew the odour was an issue at the landfill, and was working ''very closely'' with Scope Resources to mitigate the problem.

That work included assessing the best part of the pit to put the sludge, using lime chips, wood chips and mulch to filter the odour and mixing the waste with lime and burying it immediately.

However, more waste with a higher moisture content was coming into the landfill than before - including sewage sludge from Wanaka's Project Pure - which contributed to problem.

''This plant has been operating really successfully for many years, but when there's an air pollution issue, we work with the operator to continually improve how we deal with this.

''It's a learning process.''

Scope Resources director Phil Dunstan could not be reached for comment.