Information update: Tottenham (West Footscray) chemical fire site clean up

In November 2019 WorkSafe exercised its statutory powers under the Dangerous Goods Act (1985) to take any necessary action to ensure the safe removal and disposal of dangerous goods from the site of the 2018 chemical fire on Somerville Rd, Tottenham.


About the WorkSafe-led clean-up

WorkSafe exercised its statutory powers under the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 to take action necessary to:

  • destroy, render harmless, dispose of and remove, dangerous goods and containers; and
  • destroy and render harmless anything contaminated by spilled dangerous goods

To oversee this process, WorkSafe led a taskforce including the EPA, emergency services, Melbourne Water and local government.

The WorkSafe led clean-up has now concluded.

The clean-up work was undertaken by specialist contamination remediation contractor Enviropacific Services Ltd. Enviropacific engaged a number of contractors to undertake specialist work including asbestos removal, demolition, waste removal and treatment.

Environmental services company Prensa was engaged to provide independent technical oversight and assurance that the project was carried out in accordance with all relevant regulations.

What did the clean-up involve?

The WorkSafe clean-up involved the removal of all dangerous goods which were spilled, damaged, in damaged containers, and everything contaminated by dangerous goods within the property boundaries and above the level of the concrete slab of the former building structures.

The project comprised of several phases:

  • preliminary work including detailed risk assessment and planning
  • site investigation, including sampling and survey activities
  • site establishment, including infrastructure and risk controls
  • asbestos removal
  • demolition
  • waste processing and disposal

As part of the clean-up works:

  • More than 6500 tonnes of material was removed from the site including damaged and spilled dangerous goods, materials contaminated by dangerous goods and/or materials that needed to be moved in order to access dangeorus goods; and
  • Approximately 3,500,000 litres of contaminated stormwater was treated through a combination of onsite and off-site facilities.

Is there still asbestos at the site?

All asbestos identified was removed by licensed removalists. An independent hygienist has visually inspected the site and confirmed that no further asbestos was identified at the site. All asbestos found was removed and treated in accordance with the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017. A comprehensive asbestos removal plan was in place throughout the WorkSafe clean-up and monitoring of the air was undertaken throughout to ensure asbestos fibres were not being released to the atmosphere.

What equipment is still at the site?

WorkSafe has removed all site infrastructure which was installed in order to safely perform the WorkSafe clean-up, including site sheds, fire protection systems, security equipment, occupational and environmental monitoring and dust and odour suppression systems.

How is stormwater run-off at the site being managed?

Storm water drains at the site remain blocked at the conclusion of the WorkSafe project.

How is the site being managed now?

The sites owner has an ongoing obligation to ensure the health and safety of employees, contractors and/or members of the public who attend the site or who may be impacted by the conduct of their business in accordance with Victorian Occupational Health and Safety laws, and must also comply with environmental laws and regulations.

Further information on the EPA’s oversight of the site can be found at