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Toxic soil rally in Bacchus Marsh

I am appalled by the Andrews Labor Government’s plans to dump truckloads of toxic soil from the botched West Gate Tunnel project into a landfill site at Bacchus Marsh.

Maddingley Brown Coal in Bacchus Marsh is shaping as the preferred location to take this toxic waste – which is highly contaminated with the industrial chemical PFAS – when digging finally begins on this project.

A growing body of science has found that there are potential adverse health impacts associated with PFAS exposure, including liver damage, thyroid disease, decreased fertility, high cholesterol, obesity, hormone suppression and cancer.

These are the same chemicals that led to the closure of Western Victoria’s CFA training college in Fiskville in 2015. 

It is a disgrace that nearby residents and the local council have been left in the dark over this plan, which would see hundreds of trucks enter the site around the clock for up to two years.

Worryingly, this site is less than 2km from town and 500 metres from Bacchus Marsh Grammar School.

Parwan Creek, which provides irrigation water for Bacchus Marsh and Werribee, also flows through the site. Any contamination of this important waterway would have potentially devastating consequences for the environment.

With Bacchus Marsh a major food bowl for the state, the Andrews Government needs to look at alternative sites for this hazardous toxic soil.

Wyndham Vale residents are also up in arms over plans to dump the contaminated soil just metres from suburban houses at a temporary back-up site while its long-term destination is debated.

I am disturbed to learn that thousands of tonnes of PFAS contaminated soil are being stored outdoors at various sites across Melbourne’s west, covered by flimsy plastic sheeting.

It is now clear that the West Gate Tunnel project has little chance of being finished on time or on budget.

A submission to a Senate inquiry into existing and proposed toll roads in Australia in 2017 revealed that the business case for Melbourne’s West Gate Tunnel project was based on flawed traffic modelling and cost-benefit analysis work, with the project since dogged by construction delays.

The current Labor members for Ballarat and Lalor need to stand up for their communities and demand assurances from the Andrews Government that this toxic soil will not end up in Bacchus Marsh or Wyndham Vale.

10 March 2020

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