EPA removing Stawell tyre threat
Environment Protection Authority Victoria is removing a controversial stockpile of car tyres at a site on Saleyards Road based on community safety concerns.
EPA chief executive Nial Finegan said the authority believed the lack of obvious activity at the site ‘for an extended period of time’ suggested the site had been abandoned or owners were handling it in a manner likely to cause an environmental hazard.
“EPA has taken this action after repeated failure by the site’s owners to comply with EPA notices and a Country Fire Authority Fire Protection Notice issued to reduce the risk of fire at the site to protect the community,” Mr Finegan said.
“As a result, EPA has used its powers under Section 62 of the Environment Protection Act 1970 to conduct the clean-up.”
Mr Finegan asked the community take notice of safety signs and avoid the site.
“There will be many trucks and pieces of heavy machinery equipment in operation throughout the entire process of removing the tyres,” he said.
Mr Finegan said that because the exact number of tyres on the site is unknown, it was difficult to determine how long it would take to reduce the stockpile to a point where it was no longer a ‘huge’ environmental hazard.
“Vehicle tyres are made of compounds that can cause rapid combustion, including carbon, oil, benzene, toluene, rubber and sulphur. Although tyres are not easy to ignite, once alight, extinguishing them can be very difficult. The risk is compounded by the current size and configuration of the stockpile,” Mr Finegan said.
“The environmental impacts that can occur from a tyre fire are many, including air quality, firewater runoff into waterways and land contamination. By removing this stockpile, EPA will remove this risk to both community and our environment.”
Mr Finegan said to allow for construction of suitable access roads for the use of trucks and heavy machinery involved in reducing the stockpile, some vegetation had been lawfully removed.
“It is estimated that about eight to 10 trucks filled with tyres will leave the site six days a week and be sent to Melbourne for shredding,” Mr Finegan said.
“As soon as tyres are shredded, they can be used throughout construction, manufacturing and automotive industries. The end products of these are many and varied but could include athletics tracks, brake pads, new tyres and road surfaces.
“A portion of these shredded tyres will also be used as tyre-derived fuel, which is often shipped overseas to destinations that have the technology to use it.”
EPA is working with the support of agencies including Northern Grampians Shire Council, CFA, Emergency Management Victoria and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning on this matter and will continue to provide the community.
A tyre re-tread company operated by Motorway Tyres, which went into receivership in August, 2008, created an original stockpile at the site. At the time it was estimated there were one to two million tyres on site.