Manager supports move
The manager of one of the Wimmera’s largest commercial workforces has described a decision to remove a hazardous stockpile of tyres in Stawell as a ‘huge’ relief.
Frewstal abbatoirs general manager Greg Nicholls said the business welcomed and applauded the Environment Protection Authority Victoria’s move to clean up the Saleyards Road site.
“Not just for us, but Stawell and the region,” he said.
“If it ever caught fire it would have shut us down, and that would have meant 450 jobs gone. But it would have also taken down the whole town.
“No one had really thought about the broad consequences of what a major fire there might mean.
“What would the pollution have done to all the creeks and environment around the town? And what would it have meant for the Grampians?
“The Western Highway would have been closed for a month and there might have been a need to evacuate Stawell.
“There would have been massive damage to the town.
“The EPA decision to move the tyres is the best news we’ve had for a while – a huge relief. Our customers are relieved as well.”
The Frewstal works, a multi-million-dollar enterprise selling meat to an extensive domestic and international market, helps underpin the Stawell economy.
It is less than a kilometre north-east of the tyre dump.
If the dump had ever caught fire at the same time as prevailing south-westerly weather conditions, the meat works would have been quickly and directly in the path of toxic smoke.
“As the crow flies, it would be very close to our boundary,” Mr Nicholls said.
“You would be able to see smoke for miles and miles.
“Hopefully what we’re seeing now is a major disaster averted.
“We all thought when Motorway Tyres were there that the tyres would have a purpose, but nothing ever happened and that started to worry everyone.”
Mr Nicholls said deep concern about the Stawell stockpile gained momentum after a Hazelwood coal-mine fire in 2014 and then again last month after an intense and acrid fire at a Coolaroo recycling centre, northeast of Melbourne.
The EPA used powers under the Environment Protection Act to start removing the stockpile of tyres last week.
Vehicle tyres are made of compounds including carbon, oil, benzene, toluene, rubber and sulphur.
They are notoriously hard to extinguish when on fire.
Large tyre fires have a reputation of causing significant air, water and land pollution and contamination.
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