Following preparatory works, the first containers are expected to be removed from one of the sites in Epping by specialist contractors today.

Once they are removed, the contents of the containers will be tested and loaded onto trucks designed to safely transport dangerous goods.

The chemicals will be taken to licensed storage facilities and be further assessed before being recycled or destroyed.

The chemicals were initially discovered in late December when EPA, WorkSafe and the fire services inspected a number of sites in the northern suburbs.

In January it was announced that WorkSafe would step in under the Dangerous Goods Act to lead a multi-agency taskforce to oversee the removal of the chemicals.

The operation to clear all eight sites is expected to take a number of weeks.

Atmospheric monitoring inside and outside each site remains in place and will continue throughout the removal process.

Fire prevention measures and 24-hour security also remain in place at each site and emergency services have assessed removal plans.

It is expected that contractors will be able to work on some sites simultaneously once work at the first site is complete.

The multi-agency taskforce led by WorkSafe and including representatives from the EPA, emergency services, local councils and government agencies will continue to meet and oversee the safe removal of the chemicals.

Investigations into the circumstances that led to the chemicals being stored at the sites are continuing.

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

In the case of an emergency, contact 000.

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