Councils join fight against toxic soil dump

By Esther Lauaki

Two councils have joined Wyndham in shunning a state government proposal to dump toxic soil from the Westgate tunnel project in the west.
Hundreds of Wyndham residents rallied on Watton Street last week to deliver a message that the soil was “not welcome in Wyndham”.
The rally, which also included a tractor convoy down Werribee’s main strip, came amid widespread speculation about where the state government intends to dispose of the contaminated soil.
Wyndham, Melton and Brimbank councils have all publicly rejected any state government plans to store millions of tonnes of PFAS-laced soil from the tunnel project at proposed sites in Wyndham Vale, Bacchus Marsh or Ravenhall.
Wyndham mayor Josh Gilligan said at the rally that toxic soil would not be trucked into the municipality: “Not now, not ever.”
“When we see this insulting situation where we may be left to deal with this soil, we made it clear as a council that it’s definitely not going to happen,” Cr Gilligan said.

Community organiser Lisa Heinrichs told Star Weekly the residents want Transurban to take the proposal off the table.
“We want them to say that they will take [the contaminated soil] to a permanent fit-for-purpose facility.
“We don’t want it to have it sitting in suburbs, around schools and childcare centres.”
Ms Heinrichs said that Wyndham activists were keeping watch for any activity at the Hobbs Road rail yard site where the group plans to establish a blockade in coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Moorabool residents turned out in force at a rally in Bacchus Marsh on Tuesday (March 10) against a bid by Maddingley Brown Coal to receive the soil.
At the town’s recent community meeting, attended by about 400 residents, Moorabool council expressed concerns over the tender which is with Transurban. It will then need to be ratified by the planning minister.
Another site in Bulla is also understood to be under consideration and Hume council last week called for urgent clarification from the state government.