After an eight month operation led by Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA), the last truckload of contaminated glass waste from Glass Recovery Services (GRS) has been removed.
EPA began emergency remedial actions at the GRS Coolaroo site on 25 October 2019 after it became clear the risks to the community from hotspots in the contaminated glass pile were not being managed appropriately by the operator.
On Thursday (26 June 2020), the last 10 tonne truckload of contaminated glass to be removed under EPA’s intervention was driven out the Maffra Street gates of GRS and taken to a licensed operator for appropriate treatment and disposal.
In all, around 150,000 tonnes of waste and 9 million litres of leachate and industrial washwater have been removed leaving behind a site that no longer presents an unacceptable risk to the community.
EPA will continue to work with the administrators of the site to ensure its ongoing environmental compliance.
“The operation was vital to the safety of the local community, neighbouring businesses and environment. Hotspots can cause a serious fire and pose an unacceptable risk,” EPA CEO Dr Cathy Wilkinson said.
“There were significant volumes of combustible waste in the glass that could have caught fire from the hotspots, if left on the site. EPA gave GRS the opportunity to manage the issues themselves but stepped in when it became clear they were not doing so.
“The logistical effort behind this operation has been significant, especially in ensuring the safest possible environment for our staff and contractors working on the site who had to contend with first the threat from hotspots and then operating during the current circumstances while maintaining physical distancing and hygiene standards.
“We’ve worked closely with our partners at MFB, WorkSafe and Hume City Council to achieve this outcome.
“EPA holds polluters to account. GRS and its director Giuseppe Italiano face 20 charges under the Environment Protection Act 1970. EPA, on behalf of the community, will continue to take regulatory action to recover the costs incurred in the clean up,” Dr Wilkinson said.