The Cairnlea housing estate development is on the site of the former Albion Explosives Factory. The previous use of the area is well documented and it was known to be contaminated.
The area is a very large tract of land – as such, remediation or clean-up has been occurring progressively. There are only a few remaining areas left where the audits need to be completed.
Testing undertaken over the course of the audit process has repeatedly shown the site is unlikely to pose an unacceptable risk to residents. In fact, all residential areas in the estate have a certificate of environmental audit, which specifies that land is suitable for its intended use.
As part of the audit process, EPA expects to receive a groundwater clean-up report in the first half of 2013. This report will recommend restrictions that will apply for future use of the groundwater. The auditor or developer undertaking this work will inform affected residents of any restrictions on the groundwater.
In February 2011, the Victorian Ombudsman investigated a complaint about the audits done at the site.
In response to the Ombudsman’s investigation, EPA resampled soil at the site, which confirmed the original audit findings that the source of contamination had been removed and the site is unlikely to pose an unacceptable risk to either current or future users of the area.
The Ombudsman’s investigation was largely a criticism of EPA’s processes at the time, which we have addressed through adopting a risk-based approach to all reviews of environmental audits based on the risk they pose to the environment or community.
2011 testing and results
Due to some procedural issues associated with those earlier tests, EPA conducted soil resampling of sections of the estate. The result from those samples validates the previous work conducted by the environmental auditor and site assessor for the site. This confirms the original findings that the site is unlikely to pose an unacceptable risk to either current or future users of the area.
EPA resampling found the average zinc levels within the audit area are less than half the ecological investigation level trigger point, which is 200 mg/kg. The health investigation level for concentration of zinc is 7000 mg/kg. Resample results in the audited area at Cairnlea are 70 times less than this trigger point.