27 December 2022

UPDATED: Bins go out as usual despite fire gutting Hume recycling plant

| Kim Treasure
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The burnt out recycling centre

The scene at the recycling centre after last night’s fire. Photo: ESA.

UPDATE: Residents are being told to keep putting their bins out as normal, despite a major fire in Hume that has gutted the ACT Government’s Materials Recovery Facility.

Recycling materials will be temporarily stored in a location at the Mugga Lane landfill while alternative arrangements to manage residential recycling are put in place. In the short to medium term this may involve transporting recyclables to alternative places for processing.

A local road closure is in place at John Cory Road, Hume.

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The Monaro Highway and Mugga Lane remain open at this time but people are being asked to avoid the area.

Smoke is likely to be visible across the south Canberra area, including Jerrabomberra, Queanbeyan, Tralee and sounding NSW. People are being warned to keep their windows closed and stay indoors if they or their children are affected by smoke.

Map showing location of fire

Map showing location of fire. Photo: Screenshot.

City Services Minister Chris Steel said it appeared the Hume facility, together with its discovery hub education centre, was a totally write-off.

“The destruction of this facility is a significant setback for recycling in the ACT but also for six councils in NSW which send their material here to be processed,” he said.

9 am: A structure fire in Hume could burn for several days after gutting a major ACT recycling facility.

The fire started in the ACT Government’s Materials Recovery Facility, at the intersection of John Cory Road and Recycling Road, late on Monday night (26 December).

At the height of the blaze, 18 ACT Fire and Rescue trucks were fighting the fire, backed up by paramedics and police.

It’s believed highly condensed recyclables like plastic, glass and cardboard inside the warehouse fueled the flames.

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The building, which covers an area of 100 metres by 30 metres, was fully engulfed but firefighters managed to contain the fire.

It is now under control but expected to burn for several days to come.

Fire at Hume

Firefighters in action in Hume. Photo: Supplied.

The Materials Recovery Facility is a key part of Canberra’s recycling system, and City Services Senior Director Katherine Harrington is expected to address the media this morning about what impact the fire will have on waste management in the territory.

The Hume Materials Recovery Facility is one of the largest in Australia and processes about 60,000 tonnes per year of commingled recycling received from the ACT and several NSW local councils.

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From various media reporting, is appears that neither the ACT Government nor the Materials Recovery Facility itself has conducted a risk assessment or has a business continuity plan for such an event. Then again, noting this IS the ACT Government, I doubt there is anything in writing.

I believe there is a beer coaster somewhere in a drawer with the policy written on it

Capital Retro6:05 pm 28 Dec 22

Weren’t beer coasters banned along with drink straws?

William Newby3:42 pm 27 Dec 22

Why do we take millions of tons in waste each year from NSW?
I am told we are home to the cheapest rubbish disposal fees in all of NSW which is why trucks drive all the way down here from Sydney and the coast to fill up our landfill.

Perhaps ACT Nowaste should rename themselves ACT Morewa$te?!

Once we’ve cashed out and filled up this finite hole in the ground you can expect our rates will sky-rocket in about 5 years time.

This Labor/Greens government probably don’t even know just how much NSW waste we get dumped with each year. There is nothing green at all about the current administration!

Capital Retro11:35 am 28 Dec 22

I think you have been told incorrectly. The only putrescible waste going into the MLRMC landfill is from Canberra, Queanbeyan, Yass and maybe Palarang Shire.

There is a lot of building waste going into the old Mugga Lane quarry and a lot into some erosion gullies near Wallaroo (NSW).

William Newby6:09 pm 28 Dec 22

I know of several truck drivers that cart to here from Wollongong daily, their company also sends two trucks a day from Batemans bay and Moruya. This is just one waste company, I am sure that their are many others.
Our waste fees are less than $200/ton which is apparently the cheapest in NSW, even once they pay drivers and freight we are still the cheapest compared with going to a Sydney landfill.

Agree – Almost every aspect of garbage & recycling in Australia seems to be in chaos from bottles, plastic bags. Imagine when we start dumping EV batteries, solar panels & wind turbines into landfill.

Use the old rail corridor.

Capital Retro11:41 am 27 Dec 22

It is reported that smoke was being blown north east to Jerrabomberra and Queanbeyan. I just drove through Gilmore and you can smell burning plastic there. It will no doubt be detected all over Canberra in the next week (just like the bushfire smoke was).

This is what happens when “Resource Management Centre” sites are placed in the geographical centres of large cities.

Hopefully, there will be enough complaints made to ensure the replacement facility is well away from where it currently is. In fact, the recyclables industry is in chaos and a lot of it is ending up in landfill.

That would be a logistical nightmare.

That seems like a logistical nightmare.

Capital Retro2:57 pm 27 Dec 22

Please have a third try Jed and explain what you mean.

I propose we move it 100s of km away and put rates up accordingly to pay for the fuel and new trucks. Is that what you have in mind?

Capital Retro8:55 pm 27 Dec 22

Trucks will be electric and cost nothing to run.

All that paper, glass and plastic that went up in smoke would have been trucked to Sydney up the Hume if it didn’t burn. The case for burning waste is getting more feasible.

In reality The MRF had served the community for years without any issues mate. As you pointed out though more modern fire safety solutions need to be adopted, across the industry as a whole.

William Newby6:18 pm 28 Dec 22

Capital – electric trucks cost even more to run and maintain, but they are ‘greener’.
A higher initial purchase price with a large battery that takes a longer time to charge, delivering much less power than it’s diesel equivalent.
Being green on large vehicles/trucks is possible but very costly, one day when they switch us all onto electric waste trucks across the ACT you will know when our rates skyrocket.
This government will do what ever is popular at any cost.

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