Contractors appointed to clean up fire site

Specialist contamination remediation contractor Enviropacific Services Pty Ltd has been selected to undertake the complex task of cleaning up the site and will now commence preliminary planning work.

A separate tender for 24-hour security services at the site has been awarded to Corsec Services Pty Ltd and Prensa Pty Ltd have been selected to provide independent technical oversight and an assurance.

The fire, which burned for nearly two weeks, left behind a tangled pile of collapsed warehouse, friable asbestos roofing and millions of litres of waste, including drums, intermediate bulk containers (IBCs), acetylene cylinders and other toxic waste.

WorkSafe exercised its statutory powers under the Dangerous Goods Act (1985) in November 2019 to take any necessary action to ensure the safe removal and disposal of dangerous goods, after the site duty holder failed to comply with WorkSafe and EPA clean up notices.

It is leading a taskforce that includes the EPA, emergency services, Melbourne Water and local government to oversee the clean-up process, which is expected to take up to two years.

The entire 120m by 100m Somerville Road site is considered to be asbestos contaminated and asbestos regulations will have to be followed during demolition and removal works.

The contents of the many fire damaged containers will be tested to identify chemicals, which will be taken to appropriately licensed facilities for recycling or destruction.

The project will include building a temporary fire protection system and stormwater containment and diversion works.

More details about the clean-up will be made available in coming weeks.

WorkSafe Head of Dangerous Goods Response and Reform Michael Coffey said safety would be the first priority in the painstaking process to remove all of the fire damaged structure and containers of liquids.

“The complex process of cleaning up this site will not be rushed but will be undertaken in a methodical manner that puts the safety of those dealing with the materials and nearby residents and businesses first,” Mr Coffey said.

Investigations into how these chemicals came to be illegally stored at this site are ongoing.

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