After an eight month operation led by EPA Victoria, the last truckload of contaminated glass waste from Glass Recovery Services (GRS) has been removed.
The EPA began emergency remedial actions at the GRS Coolaroo site on 25 October 2019, after it became clear the risks to the community from hotspots in the contaminated glass pile were not being managed appropriately by the operator.
“On Thursday (26 June 2020), the last 10 tonne truckload of contaminated glass to be removed under EPA’s intervention was driven out the Maffra Street gates of GRS and taken to a licensed operator for appropriate treatment and disposal,” an EPA statement reads.
“In all, around 150,000 tonnes of waste and nine million litres of leachate and industrial washwater have been removed, leaving behind a site that no longer presents an unacceptable risk to the community.”
EPA CEO Cathy Wilkinson said the EPA will continue to work with the administrators of the site to ensure its ongoing environmental compliance.
“The operation was vital to the safety of the local community, neighbouring businesses and environment. Hotspots can cause a serious fire and pose an unacceptable risk,” she said.
“There were significant volumes of combustible waste in the glass that could have caught fire from the hotspots if left on the site.
“EPA gave GRS the opportunity to manage the issues themselves but stepped in when it became clear they were not doing so.”
According to Wilkinson, the logistical effort behind the operation has been significant, especially in ensuring a safe environment for EPA staff and contractors working on the site.
“We’ve worked closely with our partners at MFB, WorkSafe and Hume City Council to achieve this outcome,” she said.
“EPA holds polluters to account. GRS and its director Giuseppe Italiano face 20 charges under the Environment Protection Act 1970.
“EPA, on behalf of the community, will continue to take regulatory action to recover the costs incurred in the clean up.”