Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has begun works to remove the stockpile of tyres at a site on Saleyards Road, Stawell and help ensure the safety of the local community.
EPA CEO Nial Finegan said that as there has been no obvious activity at the site for an extended period of time, it is EPA’s view that the stockpile appears to have been abandoned or is being handled in a manner by the owners that is likely to cause an environmental hazard.
‘EPA has taken this action after repeated failure by the site’s owners to comply with EPA notices and a Country Fire Authority (CFA) Fire Protection Notice issued to reduce the risk of fire at the site to protect the community,’ Mr Finegan said.
‘As a result, EPA has used its powers under Section 62 of the Environment Protection Act 1970 to conduct the cleanup.
‘While this work is being undertaken, EPA asks that the community please take notice of any safety signage and avoid the site as there will be many trucks and pieces of heavy machinery equipment in operation throughout the entire process of removing the tyres.’
Mr Finegan said that as the exact number of tyres on the site is unknown, it is difficult to determine how long it will take to reduce the tyre stockpile so it does not pose a huge environmental hazard.
‘Vehicle tyres are made of compounds that can cause rapid combustion, including carbon, oil, benzene, toluene, rubber and sulphur. Although tyres are not easy to ignite, once alight, extinguishing them can be very difficult. The risk is compounded by the current size and configuration of the stockpile,’ Mr Finegan said.
‘The environmental impacts that can occur from a tyre fire are many, including air quality, firewater runoff into local waterways and land contamination. By removing this stockpile, EPA will remove this risk to both community and our environment.’
Mr Finegan said that to allow for the construction of suitable access roads for the use of trucks and heavy machinery undertaking the works of reducing the stockpile, some vegetation has been lawfully removed.
‘It is estimated that about 8-10 trucks filled with tyres will leave the site six days a week and be sent to Melbourne for shredding,’ Mr Finegan said.
‘Once tyres are shredded, they can be used throughout the construction, manufacturing and automotive industries. The end products of these are many and varied but could include athletics tracks, brake pads, new tyres and road surfaces.
‘A portion of these shredded tyres will also be used as tyre derived fuel, which is often shipped overseas to destinations that have the technology to use it.’
EPA is working with the support of agencies including Northern Grampians Shire Council, CFA, Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) on this matter and will continue to provide the community with updates on progress at the site.
Community queries can be directed to EPA on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC) or further information can be found at: http://www.epa.vic.gov.au/our-work/current-issues/odour-and-air-quality/stawell-tyre-stockpile-cleanup