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Environment Management Plans (EMPs)
The Environment Protection (Management of tunnel boring machine spoil) Regulations 2020 outline what an Environment Management Plan (EMP) must include.
An EMP must include:
- a description, map and details of the premises and the processing site
- a risk assessment of adverse impacts from the spoil – this includes receipt, storage, treatment and containment
- detailed arrangements and operating conditions that minimize risks to the environment and community
- ongoing environmental auditor requirements.
The Environment Protection (Management of tunnel boring machine spoil) Regulations 2020 expired on 30 June 2023. In August 2021, the Environment Protection Regulations 2021 were amended to introduce a new permit category (L09) for the disposal of TBM spoil.
The L09 permit establishes an ongoing pathway for the disposal of TBM spoil under the new laws. For more information about this process visit,
Under the previous laws, EPA approved EMPs from:
- Western Soil Treatment (WST)
- Cleanaway Operations Pty Ltd.
EPA was not responsible for the decision to choose Hi-Quality’s Bulla site.
L09 permit issued
Hi-Quality has applied for, and been issued, an L09 permit. The permit includes comparable controls as the existing EMP. This ensures TBM spoil is managed in a way which minimises risks to human health and the environment.
The permit, and its conditions, are available online.
More information is available in the Questions and Answers section, below.
Commercially sensitive information in an EMP
EPA respects the rights of applicants to keep commercial sensitive information private. This includes information relevant to the tender process.
Some information from the documents available on this webpage has been redacted.
Hi-Quality’s EMP for the West Gate Tunnel Project
Read EPA’s assessment of Hi-Quality’s EMP in publication 1942
Hi-Quality’s EMP and EPA’s assessment of Hi-Quality’s EMP were initially released with parts that had been redacted.
To provide the community with as much information as possible, EPA has negotiated the release of the above EMP. Some information is still redacted. This relates to personal details and proprietary commercial information.
Western Soil Treatment’s (WST) EMP for the West Gate Tunnel Project
Maddingley Brown Coal on behalf of Western Soil Treatment requested EPA withdraw its approval of the WST EMP. The EPA has since withdrawn approval and removed it from our website.
Cleanaway Operations Pty Ltd’s (Cleanaway) EMP for the West Gate Tunnel Project
Read EPA’s assessment of Cleanaway’s EMP (publication 1970)
EPA classifies waste materials. This defines how it must be managed and transported. A designation to enable the transport and management of per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contaminated TBM spoil from the site has been issued.
Spoil includes soil, rock, sludge and water.
Under the Environment Protection (Management of Tunnel Boring Machine Spoil) Regulations 2020 a site must have multiple controls in place to receive TBM spoil. This includes:
- an EPA-approved Environment Management Plan (EMP)
- a containment system designed in accordance with the approved EMP and not used to contain any material other than TBM spoil
- that the material be received on an impervious surface and secured to not allow for public access
- leachate testing and management in line with the EPA-approved EMP.
You can read or download the waste designation:
Questions and answers
What is an Environmental Management Plan (EMP)?
An EMP is a document that details the environmental risks and presents the controls and monitoring that will undertaken to minimise these risks to ensure human health and the environment is protected.
The EMP for the Bulla Spoil Facility will lapse on 30 June 2023. An L09 permit has been issued to regulate the operation of the site.
What is an L09 permit?
The L09 permit establishes on ongoing pathway for the disposal of TBM spoil under the Environment Protection Act 2017.
It serves the same purpose as the previous EMP approach, but aligns with the Environment Protection Framework established under the new Act.
Why does the Bulla Spoil Facility now require an L09 permit?
EMPs were an environmental management tool under the previous environment protection laws. EMPs issued under the previous laws lapsed on 30 June 2023.
The Environment Protection Act 2017 includes an Environment Protection Framework.
Does the L09 permit hold Hi Quality to the same standards as their EMP?
The conditions of an L09 permit and requirements of the EP Regulations 2021 provide the same level of protection of human health and the environment as under the prior EMP process.
The new permit brings the management and disposal of TBM spoil under the new Environment Protection Framework, in line with other activities that require permissions.
When will the L09 permit apply?
High Quality’s L09 permit has been issued and already applies. Their EMP also applies but lapsed on 30 June 2023.
Does the site present any risks to the community?
The Bulla Spoil Facility has been rigorously assessed by EPA’s scientists and engineers to ensure all environmental and human health risks are addressed. This includes groundwater and surface water quality, air quality, and noise.
The facility has been designed to specifically address risks associated with low levels of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in tunnel boring spoil. This approach ensures the design focuses specifically on the known characteristics and risks of PFAS.
The site has been engineered to accommodate a PFAS concentration that is 10 times greater than the amount expected in the spoil from the tunnel boring machine.
How will EPA ensure ongoing compliance at the site?
The L09 permit is enforceable with severe penalties and EPA can issue notices for any non-compliances. EPA officers can visit the site at any time without notice. Community members can lodge a pollution report with the EPA Pollution Watch line on 1300 372 842.
Each site has other EPA licensed activities ongoing meaning annual reporting is required and auditing is ongoing.
Why have the threshold levels of PFAS been set where they are and are they appropriate for the site?
The threshold acceptance criteria for each site have been set based on extensive risk assessment, modelling and calculations, having consideration of unique factors including leachate collection and cell design. The threshold level is driven by the design characteristics, more so than the expected levels. This is a good thing, because it means the facility provides a significant safety margin.
The maximum concentrations in the alignment are expected to be up to 0.7 micrograms per litre based on the groundwater testing undertaken. To put this in perspective, drinking water has an allowable PFOS concentration of 0.07 micrograms per litre and it is safe to swim in water with a PFOS concentration of 2 micrograms per litre.
How will the EPA check that the soil sampling plan is being carried out?
Regulation of the site will be done through onsite inspections, observations and monitoring by authorised officers and EPA scientists, as well as assessing reports provided by the accredited Environmental Auditor engaged at the Bulla Spoil Facility.
What are the repercussions for a failure to comply with the EMP or L09 permit?
The repercussion will depend on the situation but can range up to prosecution. If a breach is identified, EPA would also issue notices to ensure the breach does not occur again.
If the levels of PFAS are expected to be so low, why can’t this spoil be classified as clean fill?
Final contamination levels can only be determined once spoil is taken to an approved site, dewatered and further samples are analysed. The spoil may be classified as clean fill material depending on the sampling results.
Are these levels of PFAS consistent with national standards? Who determines national standards?
EPA uses authoritative sources to inform its decision making. These sources are documented in the National Environment Management Plan for PFAS (the PFAS NEMP).
National guidance levels are set by various authoritative bodies depending on their expertise. For example, guidance levels for daily consumption of PFAS are set by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FASANZ), whereas drinking water levels are set by the Department of Health. These values have been used by the Heads of EPAs to develop broader guidance values such as landfill acceptance criteria.
Multiple standards are covered, including drinking water, recreational water, and soil criteria such as ‘open space’ or ‘residential’. Using these guideline values, it is clear the contamination levels in the West Gate Tunnel alignment are expected to be very low - well below the Recreational Water Quality value set by the Australian Government Department of Health, meaning they are suitable for recreational activities.
How often will the EPA be checking for dust monitoring?
Every time an officer attends the site they will check for compliance with dust requirements in the L09. The officers will also be reviewing the data that will be submitted as part of the Environmental Auditor oversight of the operation. EPA officers will also be responding to any community reports of dust from the operation as well.
Will the disposal sites for the tunnel boring machine spoil be subject to the landfill levy?
No. Under regulations, landfill levy only applies to industrial and municipal waste received at a landfill site. Spoil received and contained at Bulla Spoil Facility will not be subject to landfill levy.
What level of PFAS has been approved for the site?
The maximum acceptance criteria for PFAS at Bulla Spoil Facility was reviewed by EPA and included a rigorous assessment of the design and an understanding of the site. The maximum concentrations are dictated by the site-specific ground conditions and engineering designs. Based on the proposed designs a maximum concentration of 7 micrograms per litre was determined. This should accommodate ten times more than the level of PFAS expected in the project's TBM spoil.
Will the soil testing results be released to the community and how long it will take for that data to be published?
Yes. For testing results visit, West Gate Tunnel Project.
Will the soil sampling plan be made available to the community?
EPA is working with the project management team to make this information publicly available.
Find out more about the West Gate Tunnel Project
You can contact the West Gate Tunnel Project with questions or feedback about their works:
You can contact EPA to make a report about noise, dust or other environmental impacts.
- Call us on 1300 372 842. We’re here 24 hours.
- Report pollution online. Register and report pollution through the EPA Interaction Portal.
Reviewed 31 October 2023