Casey welcomes emergency down-grade of methane issue

MEDIA RELEASE: 31 October 2008

The City of Casey has welcomed the CFA’s announcement today to downgrade the Stevensons Road closed landfill emergency situation to a landfill management scenario.

‘The lives of several thousand Casey residents have been turned upside down since the CFA, on advice from the EPA, declared the situation to be an emergency on 9 September 2008’, said City of Casey Chief Executive Officer Mike Tyler.

‘The affected residents have gone through a harrowing ordeal in the last two months.  Moving to a landfill management scenario means they will now be able to focus on returning their lives back to some semblance of normality, which for some, may take many months or even years.’

Mr Tyler says the extensive ongoing mitigation works undertaken by the City of Casey over the past 18 months, in addition to the ongoing monitoring program, has had a positive impact on reducing the amount of methane in the neighbouring estate. Ninety-five per cent of homes with the in-home gas detection monitors have not had a single reading of methane, at any level, whilst being monitored 24 hours a day. According to Mr Tyler, since the calling of the emergency status in early September, CFA has adopted new procedures for dealing with incidents of readings of methane gas in homes.

The new procedures no longer require that all houses within a 250 metre radius need to be evacuated if a methane reading is found in a home. Instead, each situation is now dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

This new approach is no different to the approach that Council applied prior to the emergency being declared where appropriate mitigation works were undertaken based on the level and location of methane detected.

‘We believe these new procedures will provide far more certainty and less concern for residents living near the closed landfill as well as others in the estate’, said Mr Tyler.

‘We believe that the de-escalation and new emergency response procedures will mean the focus of Council’s efforts can turn to restoring a community that has been severely impacted by recent events.

‘We can do this knowing that if history was to repeat itself, and there was another significant reading, the situation would be dealt with in a way that would not cause the same levels of stress for the community and without creating the media frenzy that has occurred over the last few months.’

In addition to continuing its onsite works and monitoring program, Council is continuing to work with the Department of Human Services and members of the newly-formed Community Reference Group to implement a Community Support Plan that aims to restore community confidence in the estate, and ensure the needs of residents are addressed over the coming months.

‘The Community Reference Group will play a lead role in the recovery program. Council is currently facilitating the group which has 31 members and we will be asking the State Government to assist financially so that we can bring many of the group’s good ideas to fruition’, said Mr Tyler.

‘On behalf of the City of Casey, I would like to thank the CFA, police, Department of Human Services and other agencies, for their contribution in managing the situation.’