Birkdale Landfill Remediation

By Paula Kemplay

The Birkdale landfill was the main disposal point in the Redlands from 1993 to 2011. All waste collected from the city’s wheelie bins every week was buried in its nine cells, as well as all commercial waste and additional material brought to the site by the public. Located on Old Cleveland Road East, the site began its life as a disused quarry that was below ground level and eventually grew into a mountain!  

Around a million tonnes of waste have been buried at Birkdale, serving as a visual reminder of just how much waste is generated by our community. A wheelie bin of waste each week doesn’t seem like much but look how it adds up over time.

 

There is a spectacular view across Moreton Bay to North Stradbroke Island from the top, as well as to the city and Fisherman’s Island. Many locals say it’s the best view in the Redlands and should be used for prime real estate!

Unfortunately, the ever popular request for a revolving restaurant remains a dream – waste several metres deep creates unstable ground conditions for buildings – and the site will continue to operate as a transfer station for the foreseeable future.

Birkdale landfill was Council’s first ever engineered landfill and was designed with a low permeability clay liner at the base, leachate collection system and gas extraction system to beneficially capture the methane by-product of burying waste. In accordance with our licence requirements, the final construction stage of the landfill is capping, which will seal the top of the waste and entomb the rubbish. The capping commenced in February 2015 and is expected to be finished in August 2016. The whole project is estimated to cost $7 million, which includes a new bypass lane for the transfer station that opened late last year.

What does the capping involve?

Most of the capping is buried underneath the surface, hidden from general view. Here’s a look at the process, which can take a substantial amount of time to complete:

 

What are the benefits?

The Birkdale remediation project will enhance the customer experience through improved access, safety and usage of the site. Benefits include:

  • Construction of a bypass lane, which will alleviate traffic congestion during peak times.
  • Construction of a second haul road down the hill to create a safe one-way ring road.
  • Sealing of the haul road to improve durability and reduced maintenance.
  • A new hardstand on the plateau for waste transfer activities which will have an inbuilt layer indicating when maintenance is required.
  • A low permeability clay cap over the buried waste to minimise water infiltration from rainfall into the waste layers. This will reduce wastewater (leachate) production.
  • New stormwater drainage layout and revegetation to improve storm water quality from the site.
  • Sealing of the site to prevent fugitive gas emissions and allow for a greater proportion of the landfill gas to be captured and treated to reduce CO2 greenhouse gas emissions.

The project has caused some disruption to the traffic flow and site layout changes for the public. There have also been dust and noise complaints. We acknowledge the patience of customers and residents who may have been impacted at some time during the works. We are continually reviewing our processes to improve the way things are done to assist everyone involved.

A great example of ‘One Team’ in action

The project was delivered with the support of the following external contractors:

  • Perry O’Brien (formerly Earthpro), who supplied plant and equipment, and provided day-to-day construction management.
  • Golder Associates for the overall capping design.
  • Calibre Consulting for the bypass lane traffic design.

While the closed landfill team have contract-managed the remediation works, there has been a considerable input from other areas of Council to contribute to the overall success – notably:

  • General Counsel Group and Procurement Services Unit for tender evaluation and a new fill services agreement piggy backed from another SEQ council.
  • Workplace Health & Safety for undertaking audits and providing advice on safety documentation and traffic management plans.
  • Environmental Health Team for the sediment and erosion control audit and liaison with noise complaints.
  • Scientific Services Unit for internal environmental audit.
  • Water & Waste Infrastructure Group Support for creating mailing lists to external residents and general admin support.
  • Assets & Technical Delivery Unit for upgrading the leachate pumping station.
  • Roads and drainage team and quarry for supplying clay and professional advice on materials.
  • Project Delivery Group for surveying the site, civil design on the bypass lane, and valuable advice for working the quarry clay to meet impermeability requirements.
  • Parks & Conservation Services Unit for advice on the plant species to be used within the revegetation works.
  • RedWaste Services Unit and Water & Waste Operations Group for ensuring seamless and continued operation of the transfer station as the capping project moves around the site.
  • Communication, Engagement & Tourism Group for co-ordinating the key messages to the public especially as the transfer station closed for two weeks to allow the bypass lane to be constructed safely and at a lower cost.
  • Financial Services Group for co-ordinating the various rephrasing and budget amendments and balancing the closed landfill provision accounts.

The end of an era?

Birkdale landfill has operated under an environmental licence since the Environmental Protection Act 1994 came into effect, and the environmental compliance does not stop with the capping works. Council is required to monitor the surrounding environment for at least 30 years after it has closed to ensure the waste is not causing any off-site impacts.

However, this is likely to be the end of an era for Redland City Council landfills, as regional collaboration is a key future strategic area. All of the waste collected in the Redlands is now transported to Brisbane City Council waste management facilities.

Further details about the post-closure care of landfills will feature in subsequent newsletters, including gas, leachate and vegetation management.

The Birkdale Landfill Station is located at 555-589 Old Cleveland Road East, Birkdale, and is open 7 days a week from 7am to 5pm during winter (1 June to 31 August). Please arrive by 4.45pm. View our list of accepted waste and current fees and charges.

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