EPA moves in to re­move tyre threat

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Author­ity Vic­to­ria is re­mov­ing a con­tro­ver­sial stock­pile of car tyres at a site on Saleyards Road, Stawell, based on com­mu­nity safety con­cerns.

EPA chief ex­ec­u­tive Nial Fine­gan said the author­ity be­lieved the lack of ob­vi­ous ac­tiv­ity at the site ‘for an ex­tended pe­riod of time’ sug­gested it had been aban­doned or own­ers were han­dling it in a man­ner likely to cause an en­vi­ron­men­tal haz­ard.

“EPA has taken this ac­tion af­ter re­peated fail­ure by the site’s own­ers to com­ply with EPA no­tices and a Coun­try Fire Author­ity fire-preven­tion no­tice is­sued to re­duce the risk of fire at the site to pro­tect the com­mu­nity,” he said.

“As a re­sult, EPA has used its pow­ers un­der Sec­tion 62 of the En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Act 1970 to con­duct the clean-up.”

Mr Fine­gan has asked the com­mu­nity take no­tice of safety signs and avoid the site.

“There will be many trucks and pieces of heavy ma­chin­ery equip­ment in op­er­a­tion through­out the process of re­mov­ing the tyres,” he said.

Mr Fine­gan said be­cause the ex­act num­ber of tyres on the site was un­known, it was dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine how long it would take to re­duce the stock­pile to a point where it was no longer a ‘huge’ en­vi­ron­men­tal haz­ard.

“Ve­hi­cle tyres are made of com­pounds that can cause rapid com­bus­tion, in­clud­ing car­bon, oil, ben­zene, toluene, rub­ber and sul­phur. Al­though tyres are not easy to ig­nite, once alight, ex­tin­guish­ing them can be very dif­fi­cult. The risk is com­pounded by the cur­rent size and con­fig­u­ra­tion of the stock­pile,” he said.

“The en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts that can oc­cur from a tyre fire are many, in­clud­ing air qual­ity, fire­wa­ter runoff into wa­ter­ways and land con­tam­i­na­tion. By re­mov­ing this stock­pile, EPA will re­move this risk to both the com­mu­nity and our en­vi­ron­ment.”

Mr Fine­gan said to al­low for con­struc­tion of suit­able ac­cess roads for trucks and heavy ma­chin­ery in­volved in re­duc­ing the stock­pile, some veg­e­ta­tion had been law­fully re­moved.

“It is es­ti­mated that about eight to 10 trucks filled with tyres will leave the site six days a week and be sent to Mel­bourne for shred­ding,” he said.

“As soon as tyres are shred­ded, they can be used through­out con­struc­tion, man­u­fac­tur­ing and au­to­mo­tive in­dus­tries. The end prod­ucts of these are many and var­ied but could in­clude ath­let­ics tracks, brake pads, new tyres and road sur­faces. A por­tion of these shred­ded tyres will also be used as tyre-de­rived fuel, which is of­ten shipped over­seas to des­ti­na­tions that have the tech­nol­ogy to use it.”

EPA is work­ing with the sup­port of agen­cies in­clud­ing North­ern Grampians Shire Coun­cil, CFA, Emer­gency Man­age­ment Vic­to­ria and Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment, Land, Wa­ter and Plan­ning and will con­tinue to pro­vide the com­mu­nity with up­dates.

A tyre re-tread com­pany op­er­ated by Mo­tor­way Tyres, which went into re­ceiver­ship in Au­gust, 2008, cre­ated an orig­i­nal stock­pile at the site. At the time it was es­ti­mated there were one to two mil­lion tyres on site. EPA of­fi­cers moved onto the site on Wed­nes­day last week.

Full sup­port

North­ern Grampians Shire Coun­cil mayor Tony Driscoll said the coun­cil would pro­vide any nec­es­sary sup­port to the EPA and other stake­hold­ers in the clean-up process to guar­an­tee the safety of the Stawell com­mu­nity.

“North­ern Grampians Shire Coun­cil has worked closely with EPA, CFA and the State Gov­ern­ment in or­der to achieve what we be­lieve is a sat­is­fac­tory out­come to what has been a long and ar­du­ous process,” he said.

“Re­duc­ing the fire risk to the Stawell com­mu­nity and pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment is our pri­mary fo­cus.

“Both the EPA and the CFA are to be ap­plauded for their com­mit­ment in help­ing us reach a res­o­lu­tion to this is­sue, which has been made even more dif­fi­cult by con­tin­ued in­ac­tion from the site’s own­ers. Through­out this process, the health and safety of our res­i­dents has been our ma­jor con­cern and that will con­tinue to be the case as the site clean-up con­tin­ues.”

Peo­ple can visit www.epa.vic.gov.au or call 1300 372 842 For more in­for­ma­tion about the clean-up process.

• The owner of the stock­pile had at­tempted to stop EPA from re­mov­ing the tyres from the site at an in­junc­tion hear­ing but the court found in EPA’S favour.

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