Further information, and testing conducted over the weekend, has confirmed that flammable liquids are present in waste material and are not being safely stored at eight sites inspected by authorities last week.
WorkSafe has determined that directly controlling the operation is the best way to ensure the chemicals are dealt with as quickly and safely as possible. It will lead the removal operation and be supported by the EPA, fire agencies and local councils.
Under Victoria’s Dangerous Goods Act, which is administered by WorkSafe, duty holders who breach regulations in relation to the storage and handling of dangerous goods are required to take action to ensure their sites comply with the law.
However, WorkSafe can step in and directly engage independent experts to remove the chemicals, if it believes it necessary. It also has the power to recover costs from the duty holder.
Planning for the removal of the chemicals is now under way. Once the removal operation begins it is expected to take a number of months. Safety will remain the priority.
Fire prevention measures will be increased in preparation for the removal operation.
Investigations into the circumstances that led the chemicals to be stored at the sites are continuing.
Twenty-four hour security remains in place at all sites and WorkSafe is working with the EPA and local councils to ensure the community is kept informed as the matter progresses.
For further general information members of the public can contact the WorkSafe advisory.
In the case of an emergency, contact Triple Zero 000.