Current issues

Methane at the South Geelong industrial estate


Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) is monitoring methane levels at the site of the former South Geelong landfill after elevated levels were recorded in businesses at the site. The methane levels recorded do not pose an immediate risk to either the public or businesses in the area.

EPA has since issued a pollution abatement notice to the City of Greater Geelong (CoGG).

Businesses can continue to operate as usual. It is important to note that the elevated levels have been recorded at ground height directly above cracks and joins of the foundations in buildings or within confined areas. Elevated levels have not been recorded in open-plan areas where people are working.

Businesses are advised as a precautionary measure to maximise ventilation within confined areas of buildings and structures and to minimise any hot works.

If the monitoring program detects any elevated methane levels above predetermined trigger levels, EPA and the Country Fire Authority (CFA) will directly engage with the relevant business owners and operators.

The monitoring could see the frequent presence of the CFA at the site. Officers from both EPA and CoGG recently visited businesses in the area to explain the issue and to provide information.

EPA is working with CFA, CoGG, Department of Health and Human Services, Victoria Police and WorkSafe to better understand the issue.

EPA will keep residents up to date as further information comes to hand. We encourage residents who have any concerns or would like more information to call EPA on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC).

 

Q&A on methane at the South Geelong industrial estate + Expand all Collapse all

  • What has recent testing found?

    Recent monitoring commissioned by CoGG in the South Geelong industrial estate in the area encompassed by Barwon Terrace and Gravel Pits Road has identified elevated landfill gas readings in light industrial buildings on the former South Geelong landfill.

  • Is the area safe to work in?

    There is no immediate risk to businesses and their staff.

  • I run a business in the area that uses open flames – should I stop work?

    Businesses in the area should continue with business as usual. Business owners can be safe in the knowledge that they can continue operating their businesses as usual. If any readings of methane of concern are recorded, they will be notified immediately.

    Businesses are advised as a precautionary measure to maximise ventilation within confined areas of buildings and structures and to minimise any hot works.

  • How did the methane get there?

    Areas of South Geelong were reclaimed by landfilling between the 1950s and 1980s. Parts of this area have subsequently been developed for industrial purposes.

    Landfilling produces landfill gas for many decades, which can migrate through the subsurface and may accumulate in confined spaces within buildings and structures. Methane is the major component of gas generated by decomposing organic wastes in landfills. Methane is also the principal component of our natural gas reticulated to our homes for heating and cooking.

    Regular testing of methane levels has been undertaken at the South Geelong industrial estate since early 2014 in the area encompassed by Barwon Terrace and Gravel Pits Road.

  • Why is this happening now if the landfill closed almost 30 years ago?

    The landfill was closed in 1988. Following its closure the site was capped and rehabilitated. Part of the requirement of a landfill closure is to ensure ongoing monitoring for legacy gases that may rise from the old landfill.

  • Is anything else being monitored?

    Methane is the main gas that is being tested for at the landfill. However, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels are also monitored. Elevated levels of carbon dioxide, mixed with reduced levels of oxygen, are a good indicator of methane presence.

    EPA is working with CFA, CoGG, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Victoria Police and Work Safe to understand the issue.

  • What can I smell?

    The one per cent of trace components found in landfill gas are what produce the distinctive landfill gas odour that many people liken to rotten eggs. The human ‘smell’ threshold of these trace components is very low, which is why, even though they only account for a small volume of landfill gas, humans can smell them so easily.

  • Why is the CFA constantly on site?

    The monitoring could see the frequent presence of the CFA at the site if trigger levels requiring their attendance have been recorded. The elevated levels recorded to date have occurred in very small, confined spaces, not in open-plan areas where people work.

    A system of methane trigger levels for CFA attendance is in place, which could be recorded in areas that often have very little ventilation. If these triggers are reached, CFA will attend the site or area to carry out subsequent testing.

  • What regulatory actions has EPA taken?

    EPA has issued a pollution abatement notice to CoGG, requiring it to conduct further and more frequent monitoring of methane within the buildings and surrounding area.

  • What happens if there is an emergency?

    Monitoring for methane is occurring frequently throughout the area.

    In the event of an emergency, call 000 and follow the operator’s instructions.

    The Country Fire Authority will immediately attend the site.

  • What should I do if I’m feeling unwell?

    If you feel unwell, or you are concerned about your health, you should see your local doctor or call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24.

  • How will I know what is going on?

    EPA will keep residents up to date as further information comes to hand.

    If you have any concerns or would like more information, please call EPA on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC).

Page last updated on 13 Sep 2017