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'Nose, eyes stinging': Locals say fumes are making them sick

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Residents of a Queensland city claim noxious fumes from nearby waste facilities are making them sick, and are calling on urgent action to protect their health.

Ipswich locals have lodged tens of thousands of complaints with the state government, but the mayor says it isn't holding waste operators to account. 

"If I take the dogs out and I'm not quick enough to pick up on the smell, it'll bring on severe migraines," resident Gary Butler told 9News.

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"It's either I vomit, I dry retch, my nose, my eyes are stinging," his wife Tracy Butler added.

For five years, the couple has lived just streets away from several landfill and composting facilities in the Swanbank Industrial Area.

They said there is a stench sent across the city that is getting worse.

"When we go to bed, we make sure everything's fully closed as much as we can, we have a towel pushed up in our hallway at the gap in the garage," Tracey said.

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Other residents say their severe rashes are linked to the fumes, and nearly 25,000 complaints have been lodged.

In 2018, the Queensland government established an "Odour Abatement Taskforce" to respond to the issue and since then, it's received nearly 25,000 complaints.

Tracey said locals have been told to keep filing complaints and, when the stench is really bad, to capture the air in canisters.

In a statement, the Department of Environment and Science said it has been "actively investigating odour nuisance reports" but that the issue is complex.

"Businesses involved in these activities are licenced by the department," it said.

Many Ipswich residents claim the noxious fumes from the nearby waste facilities are making them sick.

"They must comply with their environmental obligations and not cause unlawful harm to the environment or impact on the community."

It said in recent months compliance officers have undertaken "detailed site inspections" and it is reviewing its findings.

"The results of scientific analysis of water, waste and compost product samples will determine potential enforcement action for any non-compliance," the department said.

"In response to community concerns, we will continue to provide air sampling canisters to residents in affected areas who are concerned about potential impacts on their health.

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Ipswich locals are given canisters which are used to collect the air when the smell is particularly bad.

"Results to date have not indicated any potential health concerns."

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding claimed the waste companies were not compliant and said the department was not punishing them.

"But we're not actually seeing any compliance action. We have waste operators in Ipswich who are not compliant," she told 9News.

"We're calling on the Department of Environment and Science to do their job."



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