Toxic dump picketed at Tullamarine

May 30, 2009

Local residents held a rally on May 23 to stop trucks entering the Tullamarine toxic dump site in Melbourne's west. Two days later they picketed to again stop trucks from entering the landfill site.

The dispute has been growing for months since residents discovered that the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) was prepared to let dump operators Cleanaway place an unsafe, third-rate cap on the landfill.

Last year, a campaign by residents forced the closure of the Tullamarine toxic dump. The protesters found the dump had received hundreds of thousands of tonnes of toxic waste over the limit allowed by its licence.

The EPA had not only failed to monitor this, but supported Cleanaway's application to expand operations.

The capping of a landfill is the most critical part of its closure. Without an adequate cap the inevitable leakage will occur much sooner and at a much faster rate.

In 2005-06, the EPA supported a substantial cap for the proposed Nowingi landfill. According to EPA and the Victorian government this was the "best practice" cap.

But with the leaking Tullamarine toxic landfill they agreed Cleanaway could use a cheaper, 1970s-style cap, which is far less effective. Even the caps normally placed on municipal waste landfills are more robust. Some residents live within a few hundred metres of the dump.

When local residents confronted EPA representatives with this double standard they refused to change their decision and have since walked out of the negotiation process.

Residents plan to hold a series of rolling pickets as well as taking other actions until the government is prepared to get a safe and adequate cap on the dump.

The Victorian Trades Hall Council has placed a large banner on its building in support of the residents' campaign.

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