Current issues

Ball Road, Heatherton


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Background

On 26 May 2015 Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) began air quality testing around Ball Road, Heatherton, as a precautionary measure following some elevated readings in methane levels.

EPA authorised officers tested air quality in homes selected on the basis of proximity to the site and the type of building structure. Readings indicated there is no immediate risk to residents.

From 27 May EPA Officers have conducted further precautionary testing. Results continued to show no risk to residents or their homes. A community information session was held on 27 May, hosted by EPA where residents were able to ask EPA authorised officers questions.

Slightly elevated levels of methane gas have been detected in three service industry pits in the area, the site of a closed landfill operated by the former Brighton City Council between 1966 and 1984.

To ensure appropriate ongoing management of the gas source, EPA intends to issue the landowner with a remedial notice to undertake increased monitoring of landfill gases. EPA is also investigating issuing another notice requiring the installation of further monitoring bores to more accurately delineate the movement of landfill gas.

On 29 May 2015 all 43 homes in Heatherton tested for methane contamination were given the all clear. A notice has been issued to the landowner that requires ongoing monitoring of the area, including providing reports to EPA about any irregularities in methane levels. A final community information session was held on Friday 29 May where residents were invited to hear the full debrief of the testing regime and to ask any questions they had.

Residents who have any concerns or questions are encouraged to call EPA on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC).

What is methane?

Landfill gas is generated by the decomposition of waste in a landfill. Ninety-nine per cent of landfill gas is made up of methane and gas carbon dioxide. This fact sheet outlines what landfill gas is made up of and what causes odour.

Further information

Q&As on Ball Road, Heatherton + Expand all Collapse all

  • What has recent testing found?

    Slightly elevated levels of methane gas have been identified in three service industry pits near the site of a closed landfill operated by the former Brighton City Council from 1966 to 1984. The site has been monitored over the years by an auditor who reports there is no imminent environmental hazard, but further monitoring and works will continue by EPA and the duty holder (owner) to assess the risk that has been identified.

    There is no immediate risk to residents. We advise residents they don’t need to take any action; with the further monitoring we are undertaking the most appropriate next step.

  • What actions are being taken to ensure the area is safe?

    There is no immediate risk to residents. As a precautionary measure, EPA will be undertaking further monitoring in the area and has begun visiting approximately 40-60 priority homes to undertake in-home air quality testing.

    EPA also requires more short-term monitoring to be done by the owner. EPA will also require the owner to install further monitoring bores around key service pits to provide a more detailed picture.

  • How did you find this gas if the landfill is closed?

    The landfill was closed in 1984. Following its closure the site was capped and rehabilitated. It is now privately owned and used for horse grazing. The owners of closed landfills are required to ensure ongoing monitoring for legacy gases that may rise from it. Monitoring is conducted in bores in and around the site.

  • What is EPA doing to fix the issue?

    To ensure appropriate ongoing management of the gas source, EPA intends to issue the landowner with a remedial notice to undertake increased monitoring of landfill gasses. EPA is also investigating issuing another notice requiring the installation of further monitoring bores to more accurately delineate the movement of landfill gas. 

    EPA field officers have begun to test the indoor air for methane in about 40-60 homes in the area, selected on the basis of proximity to the site and the type of building structure as a precautionary measure.

  • What are you testing for? Are you only worried about methane?

    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.

  • How can we be sure that it won’t happen again or continue to happen?

    Ongoing monitoring of the Ball Road site will continue. This will include the current testing regime already undertaken by bores in and around the site. A notice served to the duty holder will also require additional bores to be used to ensure a wider area of the former landfill and its surrounds are covered. This will allow early detection to ensure that if higher readings are found, they can be dealt with before any risk to the community arises.

  • How dangerous is the situation? How much gas are we talking about?

    Slightly elevated levels of methane gas have been identified in three service industry pits near the site of a closed landfill operated by the former Brighton City Council from 1966 to 1984. The site has been monitored over the years by an auditor who reports that there is no imminent environmental hazard, but further monitoring and works will continue by EPA and the duty holder (owner) to assess the risk that has been identified.

    EPA will require short-term monitoring by the owner. EPA will also require the owner to install further monitoring bores around key service pits to provide a more detailed picture.

    Methane gas levels recorded in two telecommunications services pits are at low levels. However, EPA is undertaking testing about 40-60 homes as a precautionary measure so the community can be confident their houses are safe.
  • When will testing take place? What happens if I’m not home when EPA visits?

    Testing will begin on Tuesday 26 May from about 2pm. Where residents are not home, an information sheet will be left at the property about the situation and a phone number to call with any concerns they might have.

  • How many homes are being tested? How are they being selected?

    The EPA will approach about 40-60 homes households asking if they can conduct a short 20 minute test in their homes. Homes have been selected on the construction type – concrete slabs for example are not breathable, as opposed to homes on stumps which have a moveable air pocket underneath that would prevent seepage of any gases into homes.

  • Is there toxic gas inside people’s homes?

    At this stage we have no reason to expect this to be the case; however EPA will conduct testing within 40-60 homes to ensure those residents can be confident their houses are safe.

    The highest risk is for homes on concrete slabs closest to the landfill. Other homes in the area are built on stump foundations or have breathable brick bases, which reduces the risk of methane gas accumulating.
  • Is there any risk to my health? Are there any health conditions that may be made worse by the gas?

    At this stage there is very low community risk. Levels of methane were recorded in three service industry pits. Testing is being conducted as a precautionary measure and to give residents confidence that this is not affecting their living environment.

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

    The landfill was closed in 1984. 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. Monitoring is conducted by bores in and around the site. EPA officers also monitor surrounding service industry pits.

  • Is it safe to go outside? Can I open my windows?

    It is safe for residents to go outside and they are certainly free to open windows.

  • Is it safe to have an open flame inside the house?

    It is safe to have open flames inside homes.

  • What area does this affect? Is my child’s school/childcare safe?

    We don’t believe there are any schools or childcare centres in the area of concern.

  • 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. 

  • How can I ask further questions?

    Residents who have further questions are invited to call EPA on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC).

  • What can be done to rectify the situation?

    To ensure appropriate ongoing management of the gas source, EPA intends to issue the landowner with a remedial notice to undertake increased monitoring of landfill gasses. EPA is also investigating issuing another notice requiring the installation of further monitoring bores to more accurately delineate the movement of landfill gas.

Page last updated on 10 Jun 2015