Brimbank calls for Land Contamination Taskforce for Melbourne’s West

Council is calling on the State Government to take a western region-wide approach to addressing legacy contamination issues impacting the people of the West.

Brimbank Mayor, Cr Georgina Papafotiou said Council is asking for establishment of a Melbourne West’s Land Contamination Taskforce, and a comprehensive ‘Environmental Equity Package’ to identify and respond to historic land contamination issues across the west, beginning with the Sunshine Landfills.

‘We’ve been managing a number of the closed landfills – including the closed Sunshine Landfills and the closed Green Gully Landfill – for many years and following the guidelines from the Environment Protection Authority (the EPA).

‘Specialised and current independent reports tell us the risk of something happening to community members who live or work nearby these sites is very low – and the risks will keep getting lower over time.

‘However, we also understand that closed landfills and their associated legacy issues can be distressing for community members.

“It’s time for all levels of government to work together to move forward and manage these issues in a collaborative way that improves environmental outcomes for current and future generations.

‘The best way forward would be a regional approach by the State, through a state-appointed taskforce that works to better understand and engage on potentially contaminated land issues across the West, as well as an ‘Environmental Equity Package’ to help address community concerns and issues across the west, beginning with the Sunshine Landfills,’ Cr Papafotiou said.

A Notice of Motion was tabled at the Ordinary Council Meeting on 17 March 2020 expressing Council’s intention to request the State Government to establish a Melbourne’s West Land Contamination Taskforce as a matter of urgency.

Council’s call is consistent with its Environmental Equity Agenda which identifies that Brimbank and other communities across the west, have been disproportionately affected by soil contamination, pollution and borne the brunt of Victoria’s industrial, waste and transport storage needs.

Mover of the motion, Cr Virginia Tachos said Council wants people who might be affected by potentially contaminated land to know where the problems are, what the problems are, and what the risks are. The community needs to feel safe and informed on a regular basis whether it is on legacy issues or the current situation.

“The health and safety of our community is our key priority. Having all the relevant information around potentially contaminated land is a vital and important first step in responding to the legacy issues in Brimbank and Melbourne’s west.

‘Sunshine Landfills, Green Gully Landfill, Kealba Landfill and Ravenhall Landfills are a sample of the sites we have also been hearing people’s concerns about and we share these concerns.

‘The new Land Contamination Taskforce should work with local governments and other stakeholders to recognise the historic roles various entities played in land contamination across the west, and to develop a comprehensive ‘environmental equity package’ that fairly supports the communities and residents of the west that have been impacted by such issues,’ Cr Tachos said.

Council will write to the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change the Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio to ask for a Melbourne’s West Land Contamination Taskforce to be set up as a matter of urgency. The Minister will also be invited to visit Brimbank, to meet Council and see firsthand the community impacts resulting from a number of former landfills and other environmentally impacted land in Brimbank.

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