The owners of a southern Queensland abattoir are facing a possiible repair bill in excess of $1 million after soil erosion caused by last week’s floods left the plant in danger of falling into a nearby creek.
ABC radio yesterday reported the plight of the Carey Bros abattoir at Yangan at the foot of the Great Dividing Range east of Warwick.
A cascading torrent generated when 875mm (35 inches) of rain fell at the headwaters of the Swan Creek caused significant erosion along the banks of the creek.
Owner Greg Carey said major stabilisation will works will be required to prevent the building falling into the water course.
Mr Carey said that relocating the plant would cost $10 to $12 million and was not a viable option.
"It'll be a much cheaper option to try and repair/stabilise these creek banks but that's going to be up to a cost of a million dollars to do it property.
"They're talking about putting in big concrete pylons into the areas where the erosion is taking place and then dumping huge big rocks in there and trying to get some sort of growth of grass that'll go in there and just stabilise that area."
The Carey family have been operating at the same site since 69 years, and explained to Beef Central this morning that last week's flood was the worst in their history there.
“It wasn’t the highest we have ever had, but with the infrastructure we have now got, it has done enormous damage to our stock pens and outlying buildings," Mr Carey said.
“And in particular the creek banks have been eroded to an extent that we know we have got to do something urgent to replace the banks, otherwise we may not be here in the future.”
Mr Carey said the family had experienced a higher flood in 1957 when floodwaters were slowed by the presence of Willows in the Swan Creek, and there was much less infrastructure on the site.
The Willows were removed by the local council in the 1970s, and Mr Carey believes the floodwaters are now able to get away faster, which has led to damaging soil erosion on the banks.
The Careys are waiting for engineering reports from the Southern Downs Regional Shire Council River Trust Group to find out what is required to rectify the damage to the creek banks.
They are expecting the report later today, but whatever it involves, they believe the cost will be significant, and possibly in excess of $1 million.
They are also hoping that they will be able to access some assistance to help with the cost.
“With all the damage to businesses right throughout South Queensland and right up to Rockhampton, and with all the damage happening in NSW and Victoria with fires, we don’t know what funding will be available,” Mr Carey said.
“But we are hoping we will be able to get some funds, because we see ourselves as an essential service.
“With all the abattoirs that have closed in South Queensland in the past three years, we see ourselves as an essential service to provide fresh meat to the markets in South East Queensland.”
The Carey Bros plant processes sheep, cattle and pigs. Mr Carey believes his family's plant is the second largest domestic abattoir in Queensland, behind Nolan Meats at Gympie.
The family also operates a retail outlet and delicatessen in Warwick’s central business district.
The plant closed for two days due to the flooding last Monday and Tuesday, but has been back in operation since.
Water washed into the processing floor but did not penetrate the cold storage or office space. A number of lambs were lost in the floodwaters.
Mr Carey believes the clean-up alone will take at least two to three months.
“We have really appreciated the support we have received from the local community, and in particular Peter and Colleen Lindores of Lindores Cranes, with help of equipment and gravel for repairs to the plant.
“They just gave me anything I wanted, a truck, a grader, gravel, it was amazing, there are some wonderful people here.”
Another southeast Queensland abattoir in the firing line for flood damage last week was the Nolan Meats plant at Gympie.
Despite the Mary River reaching a near-record peak of 20.3 metres on Monday, the Nolans team activated a 'well-oiled' flood plan, including lifting low electric motors, evacuating cattle and other measures.
While the plant suffered some minor flood incursion in outlying buildings and inthe by-products area, damage was very limited, and the plant returned to work on Wednesday last week after missing a kill on Tuesday.