Kevin Peterson’s cat was little help in catching the rats that have inhabited his house.
“He walked straight past it,” he quipped.
It’s the only humorous aspect the Common Street resident and wife Noeline can find amid the march of rodents into his home he claims are coming from a large recycling yard next door over the past two months. On a more serious note, he says it’s “bloody shocking.”
The facility, operated by Southern State Waste Recycling, has been the subject of EPA compliance action.
The Authority has been monitoring waste brought to the site, ensuring it stayed within the 5000 tonne limit at any one time. Mr Peterson said no more had arrived in the past 12 months but a new problem had arisen.
“We’ve had rats in the house, in the ceiling and all through the back shed,” he said.
“They’ve made two holes in the bedroom and one in the kitchen, which I’ve plastered up, they ate through my clothes in the wardrobe and through my medications on the kitchen shelf...We’ve also found rat droppings on the kitchen benches. They are definitely coming from next door.”
The company’s operations manager Chris Eveston has vehemently rejected this claim, saying there were no rats and he had not breached any licence conditions.
The Petersons’ complaints about the yard and the height of the waste last year resulted in EPA attention and monitoring. In October the Authority fined the operator $7500 for late submission of a volumetric survey of waste.
The licence conditions require the operator to manage the site “in a competent manner,” including the effective control of pests and vermin.
Last September the EPA was investigating “all aspects of compliance” with licence conditions.
On Friday the Authority confirmed it was investigating a complaint about vermin and litter at the Common Street waste facility.
A spokeswoman also said the Authority had recently met with the licensee to discuss operations at the site.
“The EPA previously responded to a community complaint about vermin, by amending the facility’s licence to add a condition specifying actions on control pests, vermin and weeds,” she said.
“As a result, a pest controller was engaged by the owner of the facility in April, 2017 to manage pests and vermin.
“EPA has recently received the current volumetric survey which indicates that no further waste has been received at the facility in past six months. The facility is licensed to store a volume of building and demolition waste for the purposes of carrying out recycling.”
She said the Authority was also liaising with Goulburn Mulwaree Council about the site. The EPA confirmed it had issued a Clean Up Notice to the licensee regarding another site at Girraween, western Sydney.
“(We are) currently investigating alleged multiple breaches of the clean-up notice at this site,” the spokeswoman said.
Council general manager Warwick Bennett said the EPA had no ability within its structure to order the waste’s removal, only monitor compliance.
“All the complaints we receive are forwarded to the EPA,” he said.
“We fully understand and share the frustrations of the neighbours, as this land owner continues to operate the facility in a manner that we believe does not align with being a good neighbour and community citizen. However we won’t give up, and we will continue to maintain pressure on the owners of the site through the EPA.”
But the facility’s operating manager Chris Eveston said he “fervently” denied the accusation.
“Common Street Recycling takes all complaints made against us very seriously. We abide by all regulations within our licence conditions and will continue to do so. We only have one neighbour that we are aware of having issue with the business,” he said.
He provided a testimonial from neighbours, Lou and Terri Reeve who said while they earlier had “a few minor issues with the site,” Mr Eveston immediately addressed them.
“The matter of rodents was brought to my attention. However we have not experienced anything of this nature, outside of what is considered normal based on the last 17 years of having lived in this street. In my opinion there has been nothing occurring out of the ordinary as a direct result of Goulburn Recycling being across the road,” Mrs Reeve said.
Mr Eveston also accused the Petersons of making “false accusations and complaints” after their family member approached him for employment and could not be accommodated. The Petersons say this is not true.
“Common Street Recycling gets along very well with the majority of the people in the surrounding properties, Mr Eveston said.
He told The Post the complaint about rats was “fictitious and the complaint unsubstantiated.”
“There are no rats that have come as a result of our facility. This has been proven from reports that have been done by pest control taken place on site. Despite this, the company, as a precautionary measure, and in good neighbourly fashion, ensures that pest control is done on site every three months to assess the property. In fact, pest control came out last Friday, August 11.”
Mr Eveston said despite there being “no issue,” his company put down bait stations as a precaution. He claimed the rats were coming from nearby bushland and he’d seen this himself before waste was stockpiled.
Meantime the EPA says it is continuing to monitor waste volumes closely and requiring additional surveys “as necessary.”
“The EPA is aware that no further waste has been brought onto the site in the last six months. One of (our) primary objectives is to make sure that the 5000 tonne licence limit is adhered to,” she said.
But Mr Peterson is adamant the rats are coming from the yard and says he’s had enough.
“I’d like to see it all carted away,” he said of the stockpile.