EPA VIC begins clean up following 2019 chemical fire

EPA investigator

EPA Victoria has begun the next phase of its clean up at the Bradbury Industrial Services facility in Campbellfield, with the start of debris removal works by specialist contractors.

Fire destroyed the premises in April 2019, with the clean up expected to cost the state government an estimated $8 million and take approximately six months.

The fire site had been left largely untouched after Bradbury Industrial Services collapsed in mid-2019 with debts of nearly $54 million.

“This was a busy chemical processing facility, but it became one of the worst industrial fires the state has seen,” EPA CEO Lee Miezis said.

He added that the EPA took immediate action to ensure there would be no offsite contamination impacts once the site was handed back by emergency services to the owners.

“However, when the owners were unable to comply with EPA notices, we used our powers to intervene to cause a clean-up of the site,” Miezis said.

“Now, with our principal contractor Symal Infrastructure, we will start the lengthy and complex process of safely removing the waste, recycling what can be recycled and appropriately disposing of anything that cannot”.

Miezis explained that recovery of the multi-million-dollar clean-up bill was the subject of discussions with Bradbury administrators.

He also confirmed that EPA policy now reflects a zero-tolerance approach to poor fire risk practices at recycling and treatment facilities.

The EPA laid charges against Bradbury on 16 March 2020 for various alleged breaches of the Environment Protection Act 1970.

The company, which was based in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, specialised in treating solvent and other waste from paint and other related industries.

The 2019 fire followed a similar incident in 2013, with Bradbury Industrial Services pleading guilty to storing hazardous waste without a licence in 2016.

EPA officers went out to follow up on the 2013 fire, and as part of the investigation found the company was storing more than 40,000 litres of waste from paint, ink and related industries at a nearby unlicensed factory.

The officers found the waste was being stored in 1000 litre containers at the factory, which is where the company had been keeping its trucks.

Samples taken confirmed the waste was Category A – Prescribed Industrial Waste (PIW).

Category A PIW requires the highest level of management due to its potential to be hazardous to human health and the environment.

Under the Environment Protection Act 1970, it is an offence to accept PIW, or to operate a facility that stores and treats PIW from other industries without an EPA licence or approval.

EPA issued the company with three notices requiring all industrial waste be removed from the unlicensed factory and that it clean up contamination that had occurred at the premises. The company complied with these notices.

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