Dust-up over soil-washing


Hannah Hammoud and Jennifer Pittorino

A petition from members of a local air quality advocacy group has been drawn to the attention of the state government, calling for an order to prevent a Brooklyn waste management company from building a soil-washing facility.

Bearing 206 signatures, Williamstown MP Melissa Horne presented the petition, which includes a demand for the state government to ensure the EPA takes immediate action to prevent the soil-washing facility being established, “and move any other dust producing activity to areas where air pollution impacts will be minimised”.

The Inner West Air Quality Community Reference Group said the Brooklyn and West Sunshine communities “vigorously oppose” the development of the proposal in the interests of the health, safety and liveability of its residents.

Last year, waste management company ResourceCo said in a letter sent to residents that it is seeking to submit a Development Licence Application for the addition of a soil-washing facility within the existing site at 125 Bunting Road, Brooklyn.

ResourceCo intends to receive 200 tonnes of material per hour from 6am to 6pm through Monday to Friday, with an annual limit of 500,000 tonnes per year.

The company said material that arrives at site will be stored in designated areas within existing sheds to await processing.

The Inner West Air Quality Community Reference Group was established by the state government in 2018, with representatives from the community, local councils and community groups, to investigate and better understand local air pollution issues, concerns, and sources across Melbourne’s inner west, including Brimbank, Hobsons Bay and Maribyrnong local government areas.

The petitioners believe the facility will add to the already “high burden“ of pollution in Brooklyn.

Reference group member Geoffrey Mitchelmore said Brooklyn residents have been subjected to air pollution over the past 30 years.

“They’re talking about 220 trucks coming in and out of Brooklyn a day,” he said.

“… So much for reducing the trucks in the west.”

Mr Mitchelmore said the proposed soil-washing facility is unsuitable for Brooklyn – an area that is “already heavily polluted” by dust and transportation.

“We are hoping that the [state] government will step in and move their operations somewhere else,” he said.

“We’ve been fighting this for 20 years, and now it’s getting worse, it doesn’t make any sense.

“This was a terrible project and they are probably just going to do it and we won’t have any say.”

ResourceCo said it is currently working with the Brooklyn community as part of a “proactive engagement process.”

“We’re committed to understanding the priorities of the local community as we implement site improvements in line with our industry leading resource recovery operations,” it said.

Minister Horne and the EPA were both contacted for comment.