Overview

In December 2018, following investigations into the West Footscray industrial fire, WorkSafe Victoria, the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) and emergency services discovered chemicals stockpiled at locations in Epping and Campbellfield.

Further inquiries and testing confirmed that these chemicals included dangerous goods.

The chemicals are contained in bulk containers and drums at eight sites.

Recovery operation

WorkSafe is leading a multi-agency taskforce which includes EPA, fire services and Hume and Whittlesea Councils to remove and dispose of the chemicals.

Atmospheric monitoring and 24-hour security remain in place. Preliminary planning and preparation works have been underway for a number of weeks. A principal contractor has been appointed and the operation is now moving into the removal phase at sites in Epping.

What to expect at Epping

Representatives from the WorkSafe-led taskforce and contractors are now on site and worker amenities and chemical testing facilities have been erected.

The physical removal of containers from the first site is expected to commence this week, weather permitting.

The containers will be moved off site as quickly as possible using trucks designed to safely transport drums and containers of dangerous goods.

The small court, where three of the sites are located, is closed to vehicles and pedestrians, however it is not anticipated that the removal work will disrupt through-traffic in the area.

What to expect at Campbellfield

Once the removal process is underway at the first Epping site, it is expected works will be able proceed at other sites, including those at Campbellfield, simultaneously.

What is being done to keep the community and environment safe?

Community and worker safety, and protection of the environment are the taskforce’s priorities.

Security

WorkSafe is employing twenty-four hour security at all sites to prevent access.

Atmospheric monitoring

Twenty- four hour atmospheric monitoring remains in place at all sites, and is constantly checked.

Fire protection

Fire mitigation measures have been increased at all sites. The MFB and CFA are members of the taskforce and are helping to ensure the risk of fire is minimised at all times.

Environmental protection

Temporary bunds are being installed at each site prior to any chemicals being removed. The bunds are designed to capture any leaks that may occur when containers holding liquids are disturbed, as well as firewater runoff.

What if there is an emergency at one of the sites?

In an emergency situation safety is the first priority.

Emergency protocols are in place at all sites.

If you become aware of an immediate danger, call 000.

For updates on emergency situations

Visit www.emergency.vic.gov.au or call the Vic Emergency hotline: 1800 226 226.

For health concerns

Seek medical advice or call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24.

For updates

Follow @vicemergency on Twitter

Listen to advice from emergency services on what you need to do:

Industrial fires and smoke

Industrial sites may store a range of chemicals, chemical containing products and chemical waste.

If an industrial site has a fire, there is a possibility of pollutants being released from the site that affect the local environment and affect human health.

Smoke and air quality

Smoke from industrial fires can impact air quality. Small particles in smoke usually cause the most concern.

Children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing health conditions need to be particularly careful during smoky conditions.

Information about smoke and health issues can be found on the EPA website.

What should I do?

  • Where possible, avoid exposure to the smoke.
  • If you have heart or lung conditions, follow your treatment plan.
  • Look out for elderly neighbours, or other people at risk.
  • If you continue to feel unwell, seek medical help.

Odour

There may be some odour present in the event of an industrial fire.

What should I do?

Avoid the area if the odour makes you feel unwell. Seek medical help if you continue to feel unwell.

Further information

For further general information, members of the public can contact the WorkSafe advisory line on 1800 136 089.