Barro making ’reasonable’ progress

Picture EPA

Tara Murray

Barro representatives have told a community forum the company believes it is making “reasonable progress” in its bid to extinguish underground fires at the Kealba Landfill.

The forum, the fourth held by Barro to inform the community of the progress of its works to put out the fires, was held last week.

The company will now host weekly online meetings until the fires are put out. It’s the first forum since the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) issued a notice ordering Barro to have all the fires put out by the end of July.

The fires have been burning for more than 18 months. Barro’s Steve Murphy said the company was exploring a range of different methods to extinguish the fires.

“We are making reasonable progress, we believe, and we know it’s not as quick as everyone, including us, would wish it to be, but we are doing everything that can be done safely and appropriately,” he said.

Mr Murphy confirmed Barro has submitted an application to extend its working hours, but the permit has yet to receive EPA approval.

Residents voiced concerns about many issues at the meeting, including the impact on their health and the inability to understand the air monitoring reports. Brimbank councillor Virginia Tachos, who is among the affected residents, questioned why no finish date was set earlier in the process and whether the community could have confidence that the target date would be met.

The EPA’s Stephen Lansdell said an end date wasn’t set earlier due to the complex nature of the problem. Barro could face non-compliance notices if the work is not completed on time.

Cr Tachos said the air monitoring reports highlighted several chemicals that when googled, presented scary information. Barro landfill manager Nino Frasca said of the 77 chemicals monitored for, 72 haven’t been detected or were not high enough to be detected. He said the other five are not thought to be related to the combustion of the landfill and are possibly related to other businesses in the area. St Albans MP and local resident Natalie Suleyman said a minister’s report into the landfill will be released shortly and that she asked for a second report more recently.