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Domestic Violence and Abuse

Preventing harm in Stawell

Over nine weeks in 2017, EPA successfully removed Victoria’s largest tire stockpile with the help of partner
agencies and local contractors. 9,500 tons of tires were removed from Stawell,
removing a serious fire risk and potential hazard from the township. In
2017, there were a whole range of notices that were placed on this particular site.
There were pollution abatement notices from EPA Victoria. There was also a fire
prevention notice from CFA. What became apparent was that there was insufficient
progress towards compliance at this site and so there was no reduction in the
stockpile risk. What EPA did is we decided to issue a show-cause notice to
the duty holder, the owner of the site, and that required them to explain to us
why we shouldn’t consider getting in and removing that risk ourselves on behalf
of the community and all Victorians. Once we took that decision, we gave seven days for the duty holder to consider their position. We then commenced and took
access, got access, to the site with colleagues from Northern Grampians Shire, Victoria Police, Emergency Management Victoria and a whole range of other
supportive stakeholders. It was using a section 62 power under the Environment
Protection Act. It’s a power that had never been used by EPA before in this
way and over the next 45 days, with 380 truckloads, 9500 tons
of tyres … all of those tyres and that risk to the community was removed. Had a fire occurred in Stawell, it would have had significant impacts, say, to the major highway that
runs through Stawell, the railway lines that were nearby, also the likes of the Stawell abattoirs were in close proximity, so it was a real concern to the Stawell community. There also would’ve been significant costs (if the fire occurred) to the taxpayers. With a fire
going for likely weeks or months, significant costs would have been associated with the clean-up involved. The on-ground engagement in the Stawell
community was really important to me. It was about building confidence and trust
back and within the community so regular updates were provided to the Stawell
community just to show that we were removing tyres from the site and also
removing that significant risk that had been sitting in the community for too
many years. A huge thanks must go out to the different contractors that were engaged as well as the other government agencies that
played a key role in removing the risk from the Stawell community and also
completing the task. EPA would also like to thank the Stawell community for their
cooperation and also their trust in EPA getting the job done.

Cesar Sullivan

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