Clean-up at former Lara waste site could cost millions
THE Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has warned it may take up to three years to clear the mountainous stockpile of waste at an abandoned recycling site in Lara.
Earlier this year, EPA took the reins of the mammoth clean-up after the previous operator, C&D Recycling, allowed the waste to tower at a gravely dangerous level.
The City of Greater Geelong (COGG) and the EPA were informed in March this year that TASCO, the company that owns the Broderick Road site, had been placed into liquidation.
EPA’s southwest regional manager Carolyn Francis said an estimated 320,000 cubic metres of hazardous waste had accumulated at the site. She also said it’s the largest mixed stockpile the watchdog has ever seen in Victoria.
“It is not just the sheer size of the stockpile that is challenging, it is the mix of construction and demolition waste, including timber, concrete, bricks, plaster, glass and ceramics, and the fire and contamination hazards the stockpile can still present if it is not carefully managed,” Ms Francis said.
“This operator has left a mess at the site bigger than anything we have previously seen in the state for this kind of waste. This will be a long and complex clean up to deliver.”
Ms Francis said to safeguard people working on site and keep costs down, the clean-up needed to be well-planned and executed.
“We hope to begin moving some of the already-sorted materials like timber and mulch within the next few weeks and we will continue to keep the community informed along the way,” she said.
“Once work begins, people can expect to see a greater number of trucks entering and leaving the site. There may be some dust once the excavators begin work, but we will have mitigation measures in place to keep that to a minimum, along with continued measures to manage any potential fire risks.”
Geelong mayor Bruce Harwood said EPA’s decision to step in provided “some assurance” for the community, with a full clean-up to be achieved.
He also said the city would continue its efforts to keep the site safe from fire, including 24/7 security, onsite firefighting equipment and secure perimeter fencing.
Windermere ward councillor Anthony Aitken said it was a “shame” the person responsible for the stockpile, former C&D Recycling director David McAuliffe, was not in jail.
The city pursued legal action against Mr McAuliffe, and he was jailed for 90 days on February 1. He has since been released.