Mayor Announces New Measures to Help Halt Methane Gas

MEDIA RELEASE: 26 September 2008

City of Casey Mayor Cr Janet Halsall has announced a further $5 million funding injection for additional measures to help stop methane gas escaping from the Stevensons Road closed landfill and to rebuild the local community affected by the current situation.

About 350 local residents attended the Council-organised community information session last night and heard the Mayor outline a number of initiatives to further support residents who live in the neighbouring estate to the closed landfill.

‘Make no mistake, the damage to the community has gone far beyond the limits of the methane’, said Cr Halsall.

‘There are young children who don’t want to leave their homes in case it’s not there when they get back; there are insurance and settlement issues, there are building issues, impacts on some local businesses and so the list goes on.

‘We must focus our efforts on rebuilding a community that has been left bruised and battered by recent events. Council and the community need to work in partnership with other agencies to prioritise ways to rebuild the confidence that has been lost during the last few weeks’, said Cr Halsall

The Mayor said the Council is establishing a community reference group to play a role in deciding and influencing where future efforts should be concentrated.

‘The group will be driven by residents and focus on matters that residents bring forward for consideration.

‘Twenty-five residents have registered their interest in being involved in the group which will ensure that the needs, desires and aspirations of the affected community are taken into account as we develop and implement tangible solutions in partnership with other agencies such as the EPA and Department of Human Services.

‘We will develop a plan to repair the damage that has been done by recent events and rebuild the community spirit so this part of Cranbourne can regain its status as a great place to live.’

The Mayor said that in recognition of the messages of support she had received from all parts of Casey for the affected residents, the Council would also establish a community relief fund to help support local projects or the individual needs of local residents affected by the methane issue.

The Mayor, along with Mayfield Ward Councillor Steve Beardon, will also be seeking a resolution of Council to have a public and independent inquiry undertaken so that all aspects that led to the current situation can be fully investigated in an open and transparent manner.

The Mayor is also seeking further funding support from the State Government and yesterday the Mayors of the Cities of Casey and Frankston and senior officers outlined the urgent needs of the local residents to the Minister for Sustainability and Environment Gavin Jennings MP.

‘The City of Casey has now committed approximately $10 million into a range of measures to mitigate the gas migrating from the closed landfill and we are now seeking a commitment from the Government to significantly bolster its initial allocation of $3 million in grants to assist with the temporary relocation and support of residents’, said Cr Halsall.

‘This issue needs urgent attention now and the State Government can show its support of this community on behalf of all Victorians by committing the necessary funds.

‘As joint managers of the Stevensons Road closed landfill, both the City of Casey and City of Frankston Councils share the concerns of the local residents and we are committed to sourcing every possible means of funding and the required resources to support these people to get their lives back to normal’, said Cr Halsall.

Casey’s Team Leader Environment Michael Jansen also outlined the immediate measures the Council is taking to mitigate the gas risk.

Works on the closed landfill site will include the installation of additional wells to supplement the existing gas extraction system which currently has 72 wells collecting and burning off 1200 cubic metres of methane every hour.

Other works to be undertaken include expanding the bore network across the estate to determine exactly where the gas is underground, and installing a network of groundwater bores to help the technical experts better understand how the groundwater may be affected by the issue.

Council has also expanded the in-home gas monitoring program and by the end of this week, some 300 monitors will be installed in homes.

Last week, the City of Casey resolved to waive the 2008-09 rates for ratepayers of the neighbouring estate.