Residents kept in the dark

By Tate Papworth

Residents living in houses built on and around the former Sunshine landfills say they hold fears for their health and property values.

Star Weekly last week revealed that more than 80 properties built on and around the closed landfills are sitting on buried waste and are being exposed to methane gas.

While Brimbank council insists the health risks to residents are low, residents say they still don’t know what constitutes “low” and have questioned why they were only being informed of the issue now.

Thu Nguyen has lived in the area for four years and said he wished he had the information prior to purchasing.

“I had no idea it was a landfill when I bought,” Mr Nguyen said.

“I have a one-year-old and four-year-old child and I’m worried about their health. We have a big backyard and I worry that anything could potentially impact their health if they’re out playing in it.

“If I’d known about the landfills I’d have researched the long-term affects and the impact to the value of the property before buying here.”

Aaron Reid and his young family recently developed a property in the area.

He said the news of methane gas exposure was a “horrible shock” to he and his wife.

“We knew about the landfill before we bought here, but we thought it was behind our property. When the council knocked on the door, their diagrams show that’s not the case.

“I have three young kids, we’ve just built on this land and now we’re hearing we’ve built the back portion over a quarry … it’s a massive concern. Had we known about this beforehand we would’ve done a lot more research before moving here … as it stands we’re locked in for 28 years.”

Mr Reid and a number of other residents have told Star Weekly they are pushing the council to hold a public meeting to discuss concerns as a community.

Anthony, who didn’t want his last name published, said he was left confused by the sudden knock on his door by council staff telling him his property was affected.

He said he had more questions than answers.

“I’ve been here 30 years or so and now they’re suddenly coming around and telling me gases are coming out of the ground and all this,” Anthony said.

“When I asked questions, the answers just went off into different areas and I didn’t understand.”

He said he held significant concerns following the conversation.

“Of course I’m worried … 100 per cent. They’re telling me if I want to sell my house I have to tell the people that are buying it about the gases and all the other stuff that’s going on.

“I didn’t know about any of this when I bought it.

“They might be being transparent now, but what about the past?

“It’s [the landfill] been closed down for nearly 30 years. Why couldn’t they tell me about all of this when I bought the house?”