Call for landfill spot fire probe


Tara Murray

Brimbank council has called for an independent investigation into the management of spot fires at Kealba Landfill.

At the most recent council meeting, Cr Virginia Tachos said the community had no faith in the landfill operator Barro Group or the Environment Protection Aauthority.

It comes as remediation work recommences to put out spot fires that have been burning at the landfill for more than a year.

“There have been residents reporting physical symptoms and mental distress caused by the invasive odours,” Cr Tachos said.

“Many people are prevented from opening their windows for fresh air and some are concerned about their children’s safety when they are playing outdoors and the impact that the volatile chemicals may be having on their developmental and future health implications.

“Reports that the odour is worsening with the new remediation process is causing further mental and physical distress with no end date.”

Remediation work was halted during the Christmas period, but was resumed by the Barro Group on January 4.

The Barro Group also temporarily suspended the acceptance of any incoming waste at the premises from December 23 until further notice.

In November, the EPA issued a new regulatory notice to ensure minimum odour from underground hot spots at the landfill.

The notice provides continued regulation of Kealba Landfill hot spot remediation through to the end of February 2021.

Cr Victoria Borg raised a motion to write to the Barro Group, the EPA and the state government, highlighting the ongoing concern regarding the “significant impact” to the community and environment and the protracted timeframe to bring the matter to a conclusion.

The council has also requested improved and more frequent engagement between the Barro Group and the affected community, and assurances the community and environment’s health and wellbeing is not being detrimentally impacted by the ongoing remediation.

Cr Tachos added to the motion, calling for the EPA to initiate, as a matter of urgency, an independent investigation into the management of hot spot fires at the site and for the investigation to consider the impact of the remediation response on nearby residents’ health and an independent analysis of air quality.

Cr Tachos said residents wanted better understanding of potential health impacts.

“They want Barro and EPA to have meaningful and ongoing engagement, not one way engagement, but where they are listened to. “They want confidence that they are being heard.”