DECADES of solidified sewage and discarded household rubbish from an old night soil dump and tip is being eroded out of sand dunes at Port Fairy and dumped onto its popular East Beach.
Rising tides have carved back dunes by several metres in less than 12 months, exposing the first of hundreds of tonnes of old metal, rusted waste pans, broken bottles and other decayed rubbish.
Large portions of sand dune have been washed away by strong currents during the past few years, leaving the town’s decommissioned waste pit — on a thin strip of dunes between the sea and Belfast Lough — and old rubbish tip exposed to the elements.
Port Fairy resident John Bade said nightmarish predictions of rubbish oozing into the ocean had now been realised. He called on local authorities to act immediately. He said a rock wall needed to be built along the former tip site’s beach frontage in order to contain seepage and protect the ever-diminishing line of dunes.
“If this is left on the back-burner for another few years, you will effectively see the East Beach residential area become an island,” Mr Bade said.
“The erosion has cut into the dunes at an accelerated rate. Give it five or so years, the dunes will be eroded entirely and sea water will come flooding into Belfast Lough. Woodbine Road would be under water.”
The Standard last covered the East Beach rubbish tip issue in December 2010 when Port Fairy resident Max Holmes claimed further erosion of the coastline would create an “environmental disaster” as the tip boundary was only metres away from the dune cliffs.
Yesterday, inspections by The Standard from the beach and above the dunes showed they had been cut into by about four to five metres since the most recent story about the issue was published 10 months ago.
Environment Minister Ryan Smith announced last month that the state government would inject $146,500 into Moyne Shire coffers to allow the council to carry out emergency repairs to the sea wall by the end of the year.
However, Cr Colin Ryan has been adamant the funding is not enough and yesterday reiterated the need to protect the coastline.
“The funding announced is clearly not enough for what is happening along that part of the foreshore,” Cr Ryan said.
“It’s a very important asset to not only Port Fairy but the whole district.
“It’s a resource Moyne Shire Council can’t protect on its own and we need assistance to correct what’s going on there,” he said.
“If the rubbish tip empties out into the sea, the consequences are not worth thinking about.
“Something needs to happen and it needs to happen now.”
A man-made rock barrier extends along East Beach from the Moyne River mouth to the end of the expensive beach-front Griffiths Street properties atop the dunes. Past the rock wall, the unprotected coastline is exposed to currents which have eroded sand dunes between the residential precinct and the Port Fairy Golf Club.
Dunes between those two locations are the sites of a former municipal tip and an old nightsoil dump, which was used for decades as a place to store residential sewage.
The old municipal tip is located on land presently owned by the Moyne Shire and the adjacent waste site is on land owned by the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE).
Moyne Shire officials declined to comment on the issue when contacted by The Standard.
An East Beach erosion study was ratified by Moyne councillors in November 2007 and included a range of options to return sand to the beach.
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