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Locals fume as ‘foul’ garbage piles up while council and state government sit idle

After Yahoo News pressed government officials about who bore responsibility for the mess, finally an answer appears to be found.

Fed-up locals living in an inner-city suburb say a huge pile of illegally dumped garbage has ballooned in size, emitting a “foul, stinking” odour and attracting rodents to the area near a children's playground regularly visited by families.

Shocking pictures show the scale of the mountainous, squalid pile-up, located beneath the Western Distributor in the Sydney suburb of Pyrmont, metres from Fig Lane Park.

Household waste, pillows, clothes, food scraps, milk crates, and even a stained mattress can be seen lying idly in a heap beneath the expressway, which has been growing for a year and has led people to avoid the area altogether.

The rubbish pile in Pyrmont.
One local man said the foul smell and rodents have deterred people from the area in Pyrmont. Source: Facebook

The state of the derelict spot is in contrast to Pyrmont's tidy streets and scenic harbour views, with residents pleading for more to be done to stop people from illegally dumping their waste there.

Council and state authority deflect blame

A Pyrmont local, speaking to Yahoo News on the condition of anonymity, said he'd contacted the City of Sydney of Council and was told the issue was the responsibility of Service NSW (SNSW), a state body. The man said he then contacted SNSW, but was told the responsibility laid with the council.

Frustrated, the man, a resident of the area for 12 years, said he didn't know what else to do to.

"So that particular area has just been [the site of] years worth of illegal dumping," he told Yahoo News Australia. "I’ve put in probably 10 to 15 requests via email, asking them [the council] to come and pick it up, and they just do nothing.

The rubbish pile in Pyrmont under the expressway.
The waste has angered locals, who say people have been dumping there for a year. Source: Facebook

"When I called the council they said 'it's not their area' and to ring SNSW, but when I rang them, they said ring the City of Sydney. So it's just become this back and forth. No one's taking responsibility and, instead of doing something, both government organisations have just left it.

"It's disgusting. Look at the pictures — so bad," he continued. "The worst I've ever seen it, it's gotten really bad, just awful, foul. When it rains you get the mud underneath because it's not cement, it's like dirt. You get the rats and the mice too."

Local councillor slams waste management scheme

City of Sydney Labor Councillor Linda Scott said “we have had years of inaction by the City of Sydney” regarding “the waste crisis”.

“As the only councillor who voted against privatisation of the City’s entire waste collection services, I’m so disappointed to see my concerns about service levels coming true,” she told Yahoo News Australia.

“Rubbish collections are being missed by over four weeks, causing a wide array of rodent and maggot infestations in not only streets but homes of City residents. The City of Sydney is not taking waste management and collection seriously, speaking to the larger issue of waste management for the entire electorate”.

Solution finally found

Yahoo News has previously extensively covered the waste issues that plague both the City and other nearby LGAs, as mentioned by Scott. We contacted both the City of Sydney and SNSW to clarify definitively who bore responsibility for the waste in Pyrmont.

A spokesperson for SNSW said the area is not under their jurisdiction and therefore not their responsibility. They advised us to contact Transport for NSW (TfNSW). A spokesperson for the City said they would look into the matter and, eventually, confirmed it is indeed TfNSW who are accountable for the mess.

A TfNSW spokesman told Yahoo they are now “working with the City” to arrange for the dumped items to be collected.

Online, residents called for harsher penalties for those caught dumping and more measures to stop the spot being targeted again.

“Unlike other LGAs, Sydney has no council tip/dump where people can take their rubbish, instead they have to ‘book’ kerbside collection,” a man wrote. “The approach is nuts, because people dump stuff on the kerbside with or without a ‘booking’ because they see everyone else do it. The whole idea makes the place a mess.

“Furthermore, people living rough collect stuff and accumulate it, which I think is part of the issue at the site pictured.”

Others called for “cameras to be installed” as well as signage, and to fix the repaired fence that was erected months ago in an initial bid to stop dumping.