The Bungonia and district community have reacted angrily to a company's plans for a $608 million waste to energy facility.
Residents have also erected signs along Jerrara Road and in town stating "no industrial incinerator," "your health is state significant too" and "Incinerator toxic to health water and air."
Jerrara Power has held five community workshops about its proposal to build the plant on rural land it owns at 974 Jerrara Road.
The company wants to build a facility capable of processing up to 330,000 of non-recyclable, industrial and commercial waste annually.
It would be incinerated at high temperature, producing 28 megawatts annually for the grid, toxic ash to be transported to specialised landfill at Kemps Creek, and bottom ash for the construction industry.
An 80 metre high stack, a substation and 66 kilovolt transmission line is also proposed.
But managing director Chris Berkefeld and company representatives struggled to control Saturday's workshop at Bungonia, which some 60 people attended.
Anger boiled over into shouting and a demand for answers. Everyone put up their hands when a woman asked who was opposed.
Resident Martin O'Reilly sent a blunt message, which met applause.
"If you were my students, you'd be failed," he said.
"If you haven't done your homework, how do you expect the community to accept it? This is a pristine area. We don't want it here and the anger you're seeing is just the beginning. You'll be driven out."
Like others, he was concerned about health and environmental impacts from toxic particles. The company initially said 99 per cent of toxins would be removed in the grate combustion process. However on Saturday Mr Berkefeld said the modern technology would remove 100pc, otherwise "plants would be shut down."
Jerrara Road property owner Skye Ward pointed out the company's website stated "no human health impacts."
"Given that you still have to do the studies, I wonder how you can say that?" she asked.
Mr Berkefeld also told the crowd the company preferred to access pre-sorted red bin waste, rather than commercial and industrial as well. The majority of this would come from Sydney, with a "miniscule amount" from the regions.
He stressed Jerrara Power was only in its scoping stage and the workshops were about gleaning the community's questions, not necessarily answering them all at this stage.
The scoping was required for the next step - Secretary's Environmental Requirements from state planners. An EIS, incorporating studies, is expected to be completed at the end of the year. He was not expecting a state planning decision until late 2022 or early 2023. If approved, construction would take three years.
But one man advised them to save their energy and "go now." Another, Jenny White, branded it "puke and power."
The community challenged the "waste to energy" description, describing the 28,0000 megawatts of electricity as "a candle in the wind" and considerably less than what the Marulan solar farm would generate. Jerrara Power claims it will power 43,000 homes.
On this basis, residents argued it was a waste facility, which was not permitted on the land's RU2 rural landscape zone. Mr Berkefeld said his experts had advised him it was permissable with consent.
Water source 'confidential'
The company says the plant will consume 70 million litres of water annually. However Mr Berkefeld declined to identify the source. He told the crowd this was commercial in confidence but would not be taken from local bores or affect the local water table.
After the meeting, he told The Post it would not come from the Highland Source pipeline, stretching from Wingecarribee Reservoir to Goulburn.
"There are no discussions with the council on anything related to water, nor have there been," Mr Berkefeld said.
"Likewise, the source is not determined and will be advised when it is. Should water be trucked in this will entail six to nine trucks per day. This will be within the (proposed) total 52 trucks per day. No decisions are made with respect to pipelines or trucking and will be advised when proposed."
In response to questions, he said there would be no run-off from the site and as there were no airborne toxins, no impact on people's rainwater tanks.
We don't want it here and the anger you're seeing is just the beginning. You'll be driven out.- Martin O'Reilly - Bungonia resident
Residents were vocal about the effect of more trucks on Jerrara Road, already heavily utilised by quarry companies. Soft edges have appeared, forcing trucks to the middle of the road and a reduced 60km/h speed.
Mr Berkefeld told the meeting he wouldn't currently put trucks on the thoroughfare, connecting the Hume Highway to Bungonia, and committed to an upgrade.
"It is not fit for purpose in its current state," he said.
The community also feared impacts on odour, tourism, property values, flora and fauna, indigenous heritage and their farming enterprises.
They questioned why Jerrara Power hadn't chosen an industrial area in Sydney.
Mr Berkefeld said the company had searched far and wide for a site but could not find anything suitable that was also for sale. It bought the 133-hectares on Jerrara Road late last year.
He told The Post he had a site at Brayton Road, Marulan last year, "but it didn't work."
Jerrara Power has ruled out expanding the Bungonia plant, if approved, citing its ability to only handle 330,000 tonnes of waste annually. It's described as a "transitional technology," with a 25-year life.
Veolia Environmental Services is also proposing a $600m waste to energy plant at its Woodlawn bioreactor, near Tarago.
Mr Berkefeld said the trend was away from landfills but with technology changing constantly, the plants were just a "step towards the future," not the total answer.
In response to The Post's questions, he said he wasn't taken aback by the level of opposition at Bungonia and Marulan workshops.
"There will be opposition," he said.
"There's a long way to go and a lot of questions can be answered that haven't been yet.
"...The principle of 'my peaceful patch' is well known anywhere you go."
He believed 'Bungonians' were also skeptical and angry due to their experience with the nearby Multiquip quarry. But he committed to "no lies and bullshit" and to put everything on the table. If not, his company "wouldn't be going anywhere."
After the meeting, resident Anne Wiggan, who opposed the Multiquip quarry truck volumes, said the proposed waste project was distressing for people.
"We are trying to develop a community here and people put their lives into their homes and businesses. People visit here for the national park. Now we feel all that is being compromised."