Risk assessments must come first

MEDIA RELEASE: 2 January 2009

Council has been trying to prevent an adverse situation occurring at the Stevensons Road closed landfill since 2003 when it first refused the PEET application to develop within the 250 metre buffer zone, and again in 2004 when it fought the application in VCAT.

Since VCAT approved the sub-division in 2004, Council has been working to protect the residents and has installed more than 70 gas vents on the site as well as undertaking a range of on and off-site mitigation works.

City of Casey Mayor Cr Geoff Ablett anticipates that the Ombudsman will investigate the circumstances around the advice provided by the EPA and will no doubt interview all parties.

“What we do know is that if history was to repeat itself and another high reading was found, then the situation would be dealt with differently, under the guidelines that have more recently been put in place by CFA.

“Based on an identical scenario occurring where a house has a reading above the lower explosive limit, the house would be vented and fitted with a range of mitigation measures.

“The Ombudsman’s inquiry will be welcomed by Council and we are cooperating fully within the scope of its investigation.

“Two risk assessments were conducted by the EPA in October and both workshops determined that the risk on 9 September was not in the “intolerable” range or even in the “tolerable” range, but in fact was in the “acceptable” range. The EPA has not released a report on the risk assessments as at September 9,” said Cr Ablett.

There has only been one incident where the methane levels exceeded the lower explosive limit and this was dealt with prior to the warning of imminent danger being issued. There have been no other cases and more than 300 homes have been monitored, with more than 95 percent not getting any methane readings at all.