Current issues

Broderick Road recycling EPA response


EPA has stepped in to clean up a huge waste stockpile at Lara after the previous operator let the recycling waste grow to dangerous levels.

This action from EPA will ensure that fire prevention can continue in the short term, ahead of a full clean up.

Poor site management practices by the previous operator, C&D Recycling, have resulted in an unacceptable risk to the local community, the environment and emergency services in the event of a fire at the site.

The occupier and owner of the site have gone into liquidation and the funding available to the liquidators to maintain security and fire prevention measures on site ends today, which is why the EPA is stepping in to make sure community safety is maintained.

The Victorian Government has provided initial funding of $30 million to maintain fire prevention measures and clean up the site – a job that could take several years as the site contains an estimated 320,000m3 of mostly construction and demolition waste, including materials such as timber, concrete, bricks, plaster, glass and ceramics.

EPA will rigorously pursue the previous site occupiers, owners, company directors and any other relevant parties to recover the costs of the fire prevention measures and clean up.

The City of Greater Geelong will project manage the works on behalf of EPA and Government.

Since August 2017, EPA has had additional powers to support Victoria’s fire services and issue remedial notices to facilities not properly managing potential fire risks. These powers will be strengthened further under the new Environment Protection Act which will come into effect on 1 July 2020.

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  • Q&As and related issues
  • Why is EPA acting now?
    • EPA is intervening now because the liquidators have advised that the funds available to maintain site security and implementation of fire risk management will be exhausted by 30 April 2019.
    • EPA has used its powers under the Environment Protection Act 1970 to take over management of the stockpile after the previous operator let the recycling waste grow to dangerous levels.
    • EPA is partnering with the City of Greater Geelong to continue the fire prevention measures to minimise the risk to public safety, human health and the environment from fire.
  • How long will the clean up take?
    • The clean up is expected to take a number of years due to the significant volume of waste at the site.
    • Throughout this period EPA and the City of Greater Geelong will keep the community informed of the progress being made in cleaning up the site.
    • The City of Greater Geelong will implement a fire management plan following EPA entering the site. The site will be under 24/7 security and have fire mitigation measures in place to reduce the risk of fire at the premises.
  • How much will the clean up cost, and who’s paying for it?
    • The Victorian Government has provided initial funding of $30 million to maintain fire prevention measures and clean up the site. The full cost of clean up will be determined through government procurement processes.
    • EPA and Council will pursue the previous site occupiers, owners, company directors and any other relevant parties, on behalf of Government, to recover the costs of the fire prevention measures and clean up.
  • What will happen to the site after it’s cleaned up?
    • The land will likely be sold to recover costs associated with the clean up and fire prevention measures being implemented.
    • EPA has statutory powers to sell the land following a clean up to recover its costs for the clean up.
  • When will the works commence?
    • The timeline for clean up will be established once government procurement processes have taken place.
    • In the interim, EPA and the City of Greater Geelong will maintain the fire prevention measures already in place to minimise the risk of harm to human health and the environment from a fire at the site.


  • What fire management infrastructure has been implemented at the site to reduce risk?
    • Secure permanent perimeter fencing.
    • 1,000,000 litre static water tank storage installed.
    • Hydrant lines installed along the south and west boundaries.
    • Mulch that was measuring high temperatures has been relocated to the northern part of site and stockpiled to meet Victoria’s Waste Management Policy.
    • The site is surrounded by an earthen bund to secure fire water (if required).
  • What fire management measures have been put in place?
    • 24/7 security guards at the site with hourly patrols.
    • Monitoring of mulch piles and recently chipped timber piles.
    • An excavator and water truck are on site for quick response.
    • An emergency management plan has been prepared, with input from all relevant authorities.
  • Where will the materials removed from the site be sent?

    Waste materials will be recycled where possible, with some of the waste taken to landfill. The recyclable materials will be sent to an appropriate facility for processing.

  • Who will undertake the rehabilitation of the site?
    • EPA has exercised its powers under Section 62 of the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the City of Greater Geelong are project managing the works.
    • The City of Greater Geelong will utilise appropriately qualified contractors to complete the works.
  • Why is the Broderick Road Recycling site a focus for EPA?
    • EPA is intervening to continue the fire prevention measures to minimise the risk to public safety, human health and the environment from fire. This is an extraordinary case requiring EPA and government intervention to minimise the fire risk that exists at the site.
    • Former operator C&D Recycling accepted and stockpiled approximately 320,000 m3 of combustible recyclable and waste material predominantly from the construction and demolition industry.
    • In April 2019, the Country Fire Authority (CFA) conducted a risk consequence assessment that considers the risk of a fire as LIKELY and rated the consequence of a fire at the site as MAJOR. The CFA also advised that if ignited the fire would have a severe impact on the surrounding community, including the national and state rail networks and major highways leading into Geelong.
    • Poor site management practices by the previous operator C&D Recycling have resulted in an unacceptable risk to the local community, the environment and emergency services if there was a fire at the site.

    Background:

      • Following the liquidation of C&D Recycling, the site was managed by TASCO from late 2018.
      • In March 2019, the City of Greater Geelong and EPA were informed that TASCO had been placed into liquidation and that liquidators had been appointed.
      • An associated company to TASCO, Dongwha Australia Pty Ltd, provided funding for continuing fire management controls for a period of time.
      • EPA has now exercised its powers under Section 62 of the Environment Protection Act 1970 to enter the site for the purposes of continuing the fire prevention measures.
  • What is in the waste stockpile?
    • The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) heard in April 2018 that the site contains an estimated 320,000 m3 of material.
    • The material mainly consists of construction and demolition waste – a combination of timber (painted, treated, untreated, engineered), concrete, bricks, rock, soil, wood chips, metal, plaster, fabric, plastics, paper, cardboard, glass, ceramics and electronic cables and components. 
  • Is there asbestos in the stockpile?
    • Under the VCAT orders, the site occupier and owner were required to conduct a sampling program to inform a preliminary fire management plan, rehabilitation plan and a development management plan for the site.
    • That sampling (airborne monitoring) detected low levels of asbestos that did not exceed exposure standards.
    • Given that the waste is predominantly from construction and demolition activities, it is possible that some asbestos containing material may be present. Any asbestos containing material will be handled in accordance with WorkSafe regulations.
  • Is there a current risk of airborne pollutants?
    • While the site is stable there is no detected risk of airborne pollutants.
    • During excavations and removal of the items there may be some dust unsettled.
    • WorkSafe plans will be in place during any excavation works, which includes notifying adjacent residents and businesses of potential dust impacts.
  • Why was the operation allowed to continue for so long?
    • The City of Greater Geelong issued a temporary permit for a small recycling facility at this site in 2013.
    • The operator consistently breached planning permit conditions and the Council has battled for the past five years to have the facility brought into compliance or cease operating.
    • In 2016 the Council applied to have the planning permit revoked, however VCAT ordered a permanent planning permit be issued. VCAT enforcement orders were issued for planning permit compliance, however the operator continued to breach the orders. Court action has been taken on several occasions.


  • What is the Resource Recovery Facilities Audit Taskforce?
    • Following a major fire at the SKM Coolaroo recycling plant in July 2017, the Victorian Government established the Resource Recovery Facilities Audit Taskforce, which is headed up by EPA and includes representatives from MFB, CFA and WorkSafe, to inspect recycling facilities across the state and tackle stockpiles that might pose a fire risk that can lead to harm to human health and the environment.
    • EPA holds duty holders to account. Since its establishment the Taskforce has conducted 519 inspections across 156 sites that have resulted in 161 remedial notices and 29 sanctions being issued. Where remedial notices or actions are required, follow up inspections will be carried out to ensure compliance.
    • The work conducted by the Resource Recovery Facilities Audit Taskforce has resulted in a reduction in fire frequency and severity at recycling facilities across Victoria, lessening the impact of fire on the community and environment.
  • What is the Waste Management Policy?
    • This policy aims to ensure that resource recovery facilities are managed in a manner that minimises risks of harm to human health and the environment from fire through the management of combustible, recyclable and waste materials.
    • The policy came into effect on 28 August 2018 and replaced the interim Waste Management Policy (Resource Recovery Facilities) which commenced on 29 August 2017.
  • What would happen if this site caught fire?
    • In the event of a fire at the Broderick Road recycling site, large amounts of plastic materials and other undetermined material could likely generate significant community impacts from smoke. These waste stockpiles could pose a significant risk and challenge for firefighting agencies if ignited. Fire water run off could also enter waterways and have long-lasting impacts on the environment.
    • A preliminary fire management plan for the site remains in place, with improved road access for firefighters, firefighting water supplies and ring main (a primary loop connected to pumps so there are two routes for water to flow in case one side gets blocked) provided on site.
    • Emergency services would control any incident at the site and community advice and warnings would be issued by Emergency Management Victoria as required.
  • What plans are in place if a fire does start?
    • The CFA has developed several response plans to mitigate the risk where possible. These plans include actions on initial response and the potential for an escalating fire, and involve several aspects, including aviation response, air monitoring, water supply and public information.
    • A major exercise involving multiple agencies and organisations was undertaken in November 2018 which tested the work that we have done in developing a consequence assessment and emergency management planning. The CFA, EPA and the City of Greater Geelong are continuing to work alongside other agencies to further enhance our response plans.
    • There is a highly collaborative approach between the agencies to do all that is possible to reduce the likelihood of fire and limit the impact to the community.
  • Will we have to evacuate if there is a fire?
    • CFA will be monitoring the site closely and providing regular updates to the community on fire risk in the event of a fire.
    • In collaboration with the CFA incident controller, Victoria Police is the responsible agency to manage and conduct any evacuation. Any decision to evacuate will be dependent upon information provided by EPA as to air quality at any particular time and forecast air quality.
    • Local residents may also be ordered to shelter indoors and refrain from outdoor activity. You may be required to shut your windows and doors to keep the smoke outside, among other measures.
    • We also encourage residents to stay up to date with weather conditions and regularly check for fire warning updates during the fire season.
    • Warnings and updates regarding fires around Victoria are broadcast on:
      • ABC local radio
      • VicEmergency Twitter (@vicemergency) / Facebook (facebook.com/vicemergency)
      • CFA Twitter (@CFA_Updates) / Facebook (facebook.com/cfavic).
    • Other ways to stay informed include:
  • What guidance and support has been provided to industry operators to help them comply with their environmental obligations?
    • Through extensive engagement with industry and local government, the Resource Recovery Facilities Audit Taskforce chaired by EPA has developed practical guidelines on how to comply with the Victorian Government’s Waste Management Policy (Combustible Recyclable and Waste Materials).
    • The guidelines provide information for operators to understand the fire hazards associated with their activities and take steps to reduce the fire risk associated with those hazards, manage and store combustible recyclable and waste materials (CRWM) in a manner that protects the environment and human health from the risk of fire, and prepare an emergency management plan in response to a fire emergency.

Page last updated on 30 Apr 2019