Town’s tyre pile to go

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS - By Thomas Moir

The Vic­to­rian Govern­ment has stepped in, al­lo­cat­ing $1.5 mil­lion to re­move a dan­ger­ous, risky tyre dump in Nu­murkah, ca­pa­ble of caus­ing what au­thor­i­ties de­scribe as a ‘‘cat­a­strophic’’ fire in the town.

The 500 000 tyres sit­ting at the site known as the Nu­murkah tyre pile will be re­moved dur­ing the next 10 weeks by the En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Au­thor­ity.

Nu­murkah will be­come ‘‘stock­pile free’’ by late sum­mer. CFA crews will mon­i­tor the re­moval op­er­a­tion to make sure any fires were avoided.

At a town com­mu­nity meet­ing last week, Vic­to­rian En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Lily D’Am­bro­sio made the an­nounce­ment to mul­ti­ple rounds of ap­plause from town res­i­dents.

Ms D’Am­bro­sio and the EPA said tyre stock­piles would now be a thing of the past in Vic­to­ria.

‘‘(The Nu­murkah tyre pile) has pre­sented a sig­nif­i­cant risk to the health of the com­mu­nity . . . and also the en­vi­ron­ment,’’ she said. ‘‘That stops to­day.’’ The Nu­murkah site has posed an ex­treme threat to the town dur­ing a num­ber of years now.

Af­ter many years of le­gal pro­ceed­ings, Moira Shire Mayor Li­bro Mus­tica said it was a con­cern the coun­cil and town could fi­nally leave be­hind.

The tyres would be taken to an EPA-li­censed fa­cil­ity in Mel­bourne to be pro­cessed — shred­ded and re­cy­cled into fuel or road seal­ing prod­ucts — within 14 hours of ar­riv­ing.

A lot of time, ef­fort and var­i­ous court chal­lenges had led to govern­ment in­ter­ven­tion, Ms D’Am­bro­sio said.

She said the own­ers had been of­fered ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to do the right thing.

But she said govern­ment was step­ping in, given the dam­age caused by a po­ten­tial fire be­ing ‘‘ab­so­lutely cat­a­strophic’’ and the ‘‘un­ac­cept­able risk’’ the site cre­ated.

‘‘New rules are now in place, so this never hap­pens again,’’ Ms D’Am­bro­sio said.

She said the town could rest easy, paid trib­ute to State Mem­ber for Shep­par­ton Suzanna Sheed for her ad­vo­cacy on the is­sue, and thanked the com­mu­nity for stay­ing on the case to get the site re­moved.

The EPA will use En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Act pow­ers to en­ter the site and re­move the tyres, in part­ner­ship with the Moira Shire Coun­cil.

For the next 10 weeks, eight trucks a day, five days a week would help re­move the half mil­lion tyres; es­ti­mated at 5000 tonnes worth of tyres.

Shred­ded tyres can be used through­out the con­struc­tion, man­u­fac­tur­ing and au­to­mo­tive in­dus­tries, or help con­struct ath­let­ics tracks, brake pads, new tyres or road sur­faces.

‘‘Tyres are made of com­pounds that can cause rapid com­bus­tion, in­clud­ing car­bon, oil, ben­zene, toluene, rub­ber and sul­phur,’’ a govern­ment state­ment read.

A CFA fire risk as­sess­ment of the Nu­murkah site found a fire there would be cat­a­strophic.

Moira Shire chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Hen­der­son said the EPA’s de­ci­sion to use its pow­ers to ad­dress the pub­lic and en­vi­ron­men­tal risks as­so­ci­ated with the site was wel­come news.

‘‘For the past six years we have pur­sued all le­gal av­enues to force the site owner to re­move the tyres,’’ he said.

‘‘The EPA, coun­cil and the Nu­murkah com­mu­nity are very aware of the pub­lic health, safety and en­vi­ron­men­tal risks as­so­ci­ated with the site.

‘‘These con­cerns are un­der­scored by the CFA’s re­cent fire risk as­sess­ment that rated the risk of fire as ex­treme and the con­se­quences as cat­a­strophic.’’

Cr Mus­tica said the site’s re­moval was ab­so­lutely 100 per cent ur­gent, es­pe­cially with the weather now hit­ting 40°C, it can­not be more ur­gent than what it is now.

Ms D’Am­bro­sio said the govern­ment had heard ‘‘loud and clear’’ that such stock­piles should never be al­lowed to ac­cu­mu­late.

‘‘Our govern­ment made changes to reg­u­la­tions and rules, so that this stock­pile could never be al­lowed into the fu­ture,’’ she said.

She de­scribed the Nu­murkah stock­pile as the last of those legacy tyre stock­piles.

‘‘Our govern­ment made changes to the reg­u­la­tions that re­quire li­cens­ing and works ap­proval for any stock­pile of tyres that go beyond the 5000 num­ber,’’ Ms D’Am­bro­sio said.

Mr Hen­der­son said coun­cil would se­curely fence the site, start works to make sure safe truck ac­cess to and from the site in ac­cor­dance with EPA reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments.

‘‘Our very rough es­ti­mates sug­gest the site could be clear by late sum­mer — but we just don’t know what we may find in among the tyres,’’ he said.

‘‘We will con­tin­u­ously mon­i­tor noise, dust and other fac­tors that may im­pact on lo­cal res­i­dents — but we also hope the com­mu­nity will recog­nise the works as a short-term in­con­ve­nience that will elim­i­nate a sig­nif­i­cant health and safety risk for the com­mu­nity.’’

EPA chief ex­ec­u­tive Cathy Wilkin­son said ap­pro­pri­ate fire mit­i­ga­tion would be put in place through the clean-up, while any ver­min and snakes found in the op­er­a­tion would be ap­pro­pri­ately dealt with.

Ms D’Am­bro­sio said the ‘‘sense of re­lief’’ could be heard fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment from peo­ple who had ‘‘lived with this’’.

‘‘Nu­murkah can re­turn to be­ing a lovely part of Vic­to­ria that doesn’t have that ter­ri­ble ex­treme threat of cat­a­strophic fire hang­ing over them.’’

So many tyres: The Nu­murkah tyre dump from the air.

In­spec­tion: the dump. En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Au­thor­ity rep­re­sen­ta­tives at

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