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EPA issues notice on former Sunshine Harvester Works site

20 Jun 2017

Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has issued a notice requiring AGCO Australia Limited to assess contamination beneath the former Massey Ferguson site (also known as the Sunshine Harvester Works site) on Hampshire Road, Sunshine.

EPA will host a community drop in session regarding its groundwater investigation in Sunshine on Tuesday 27 June between 4 pm and 7 pm at the Sunshine Library (Brimbank Community and Civic Centre), 301 Hampshire Road, Sunshine.

AGCO, which took over the Massey Ferguson entity in 1996, must also assess groundwater and any vapour risks to current occupants of the site and complete an environmental audit of the premises.

The site was developed in the 1990s and includes the Sunshine Market Place, Sunshine Plaza, Sunshine Magistrates Court and a number of other government and commercial buildings.

The former Massey Ferguson factory manufactured tractors, harvesters, and other agricultural equipment, and had a number of industrial processes conducted at the site that could have potentially contaminated land and underlying groundwater.

The site was in use by Massey Ferguson from 1921 until 1986 and included a foundry, metal works, metal finishing and painting, timber milling and treatment and a large range of underground chemicals and fuel tanks.

EPA Chief Executive Officer Nial Finegan said EPA began investigating the source of contaminated groundwater in Sunshine in October 2014 when it became aware that trichloroethylene (TCE) was detected in sub-surface soil vapour and groundwater sampling.

Concerns regarding the risk of TCE vapour at the former Sunshine Harvester Works site led to an assessment of indoor air at some buildings on the site.

“EPA’s investigation to date has included surface air and vapour analysis over part of the site and these results have not detected any TCE vapours,” Mr Finegan said.

‘Although these tests have provided some reassurance, a more comprehensive assessment of the risks from contamination, including groundwater is warranted.  We are now in a position to formally issue this notice to AGCO to assess any pollution, including the impacts on groundwater and in soil vapour,’ Mr Finegan said.

Mr Finegan said EPA expected industry to be accountable for historic pollution that may have occurred through manufacturing processes.

‘EPA will work to ensure that an assessment of any pollution is completed and any clean up works that may be required are done in order to avoid the community inheriting the costs and impacts associated with the historic industrial use of the land,’ Mr Finegan said.

Mr Finegan said the site had been assessed for soil contamination after its closure in the late 1980s.

‘Assessments conducted between 1991 and 1997, when the site changed ownership, identified widespread contamination including a range of heavy metals and a variety of hydrocarbons. There are large sections of the site that have not had any assessment of soil and soil vapour,’ Mr Finegan said.

Mr Finegan said a full groundwater assessment at the site had not been undertaken in the past.

‘However, in early 2015, Brimbank City Council groundwater monitoring bores at the site detected a range of contaminants in soil vapour and groundwater that required further investigation,’ Mr Finegan said.

Mr Finegan said EPA had issued the notice under Section 62A of the Environment Protection Act 1970.

Page last updated on 20 Jun 2017