The Victorian Government has announced it will provide $30 million in initial funding to maintain fire prevention measures and assist clean up at a waste stockpile in Lara north of Geelong.
Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said clean up processes could take several years, as the stockpile contains an estimated 320,000 cubic meters of waste including timber, concrete, brick, plaster, glass and ceramics.
The Victorian EPA used powers granted under the Environment Protection Act 1970 to take over management at the stockpile after the previous operator let recycling waste grow to dangerous levels.
According to Ms D’Ambrosio, action from the EPA will ensure fire prevention can continue in the short term, ahead of a full clean up.
“Poor site management practices by the previous operator has resulted in an unacceptable risk to the local community, the environment and emergency services in the event of a fire at the site,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.
“The occupier and owner of the site have gone into liquidation, and the funding available to the liquidators to maintain security and fire prevention measures on site ends today (30 April 2019).”
Ms D’Ambrosio said the EPA would rigorously pursue the previous site occupiers, owners, company directors and any other relevant parties to recover the costs of the fire prevention measures and clean up.
“We will be pursuing the private operators involved for every cent of the clean up cost. They created this mess, it’s only right they pay for it to be fixed.”
Member for Lara John Eren said the site has been cause for local concern for some time.
“It’s excellent news for the whole community to know that the EPA will now take control of the clean up, it’s time to get on with fixing the problem once and for all.”
Since August 2017 the Victorian EPA has possesed additional powers to support fire services and issue remedial notices to facilities not properly managing potential fire risks.
Ms D’Ambrosio said powers will be further strengthened under the new Environment Protection Act which comes into effect on 1 July 2020.
The City of Greater Geelong will project manage the works on behalf of the EPA and state government.