A WorkSafe led taskforce is continuing to remove waste chemicals from warehouses in Melbourne's northern suburbs.
This includes eight sites in Epping and Campbellfield uncovered in December 2018 and an additional four sites discovered in Craigieburn and Campbellfield in March.
The waste chemicals include flammable liquids such as paints, inks and solvents.
The exact quantity of chemicals contained in the warehouses is unknown, however the
Maximum total storage capacity of the 12 sites is up to 30 million litres.
The taskforce includes representatives from Environment Protection Authority (EPA), emergency services, and Hume and Whittlesea Councils.
The waste chemicals are being removed by a principal contractor appointed by the taskforce.
So far more than 3.5 million litres have been removed and transported to EPA licensed processing facilities.
While the taskforce is working to remove the chemicals as quickly as possible, safety must be the number one priority. Operations are expected to continue for many more months.
There are four sites at Epping. Two of four have now been completely cleared and removal work is underway at a third.
Preparations to remove the chemicals from the fourth site are also underway.
The small court where three of the sites are located remains closed to vehicles and pedestrians. This does not disrupt through-traffic in the area.
There are five sites at Campbellfield. Chemicals are being removed from two sites and planning and preparation works are underway at the other three.
There are three sites at Craigieburn. Worksafe stepped-in under the Dangerous Goods Act to oversee clean-up operations at these, and one Campbellfield site, in April.
Planning to commence the removal of chemicals from the Craigieburn sites is underway.
Community and environmental safety
Community and worker safety, and protection of the environment are the taskforce's priorities.
WorkSafe is employing twenty-four hour security at all sites to prevent access.
Twenty-four hour atmospheric monitoring remains in place at all sites, and is constantly checked.
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.
Temporary bunds are 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 a medical emergency call 000.
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 products containing chemicals 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 potentially human health.
Smoke and air quality
Smoke from industrial fires can impact air quality. Fine particles in smoke usually cause the most concern, however there may be other pollutants of concern in industrial fires.
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 if there is a fire?
- 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 feel unwell, seek medical advice or help.
There may be some odour present in the event of an industrial fire.
What should I do if there is a noticeable odour?
Avoid the area if the odour makes you feel unwell. Seek medical help if you continue to feel unwell.
For further general information, members of the public can contact the WorkSafe advisory line on 1800 136 089.
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