Health risk low: council

By Tate Papworth

Brimbank council has emphasised that the health risk to residents impacted by the Sunshine landfill methane issue is low.

A 2013 EPA report, seen by Star Weekly, identified a “high risk” to residents, workers and the public in commercial and residential facilities surrounding the affected area.

However, subsequent reports and monitoring have revised that risk to low.

Many residents told Star Weekly last week they had purchased their property with no knowledge of buried waste and methane gas leaks in the surrounding area.

Brimbank council director city development Kelvin Walsh said the former City of Sunshine provided information in compliance with legal requirements at the time.

He said most affected homes were purchased in or around 1994.

“The extent of waste is identified in many building permits and the foundation design of some buildings addresses the filling of the land,” Mr Walsh said.

“Prior to 1999, the Brimbank Planning Scheme, and prior to that the regional planning maps maintained by the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works, identified the extent of the former quarrying and subsequent landfilling, including into private properties.

“This information was lost from the Brimbank Planning Scheme when all planning schemes across Victoria were reformatted in 1999.”

But documents seen by Star Weekly reveal the council could be liable for a claim of negligence for failing to amend the Brimbank Planning Scheme since 1999 to disclose the location of the Sunshine landfills to innocent purchasers.

Mr Walsh said it has taken 20 years for the council to update the planning scheme because “development requiring planning permission has only recently occurred in this area”.

The council hasn’t ruled out compensating impacted residents and acquiring land.

“Any claims will be properly assessed and dealt with through Brimbank City Council’s governance processes,” Mr Walsh said.