By Jessica Micallef
Sunbury and Bulla residents have been left disappointed by the lack of community consultation, as the prospect of toxic soil from the West Gate Tunnel Project being dumped in Bulla moves a step closer.
Waste management and recycling company Hi-Quality has resubmitted it’s Environment Management Plan (EMP) to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) for approval to send soil to the Sunbury Eco-Hub in Bulla.
Hi-Quality’s original EMP was approved by the EPA in September.
However, Hi-Quality’s Victorian regional manager Lance Ingrams said they were invited by the EPA to resubmit the EMP last month, after a legal review into the regulator’s process resulted in all tenderers’ EMP approvals being revoked.
“Hi-Quality developed it’s EMP with a commitment to upholding its environmental standards,” he said.
“As a result of the quality of the submission, Hi-Quality was able to resubmit its complete EMP prior to Christmas as all information required had previously been submitted and approved by the regulator.”
Sunbury resident and creator of the Sunbury Against Toxic Soil Facebook group Chris O’Neill said there had been no “genuine attempt” from Hi-Quality to engage with the community regarding the resubmission of the EMP.
Mr O’Neill said residents only found out about the resubmission on January 8.
“We knew this was going to happen, so it’s not news to us, but we are disappointed with how they have done it, without engaging with the community in any way whatsoever,” he said.
“There has been no genuine attempt to engage with the community apart from an online portal.
“All we need Hi-Quality to do is to make an attempt to speak with us and genuinely want to hear from us but that haven’t even tried.”
The EPA is currently reviewing Hi-Quality’s EMP and an outcome is expected in the coming weeks.
“While this is an important step in the process, Hi-Quality requires approval from the state government on its Planning Scheme Amendment, and the competitive tender for the contract is still ongoing,” Mr Ingrams said.
In November last year, the Planning Minister Richard Wynne approved Maddingley Brown Coal and Cleanaway’s Planning Scheme Amendments to receive and store toxic soil from the West Gate Tunnel project in Bacchus Marsh and Ravenhall.
A decision was not made for Hi-Quality’s proposal to send PFAS and asbestos-contaminated soil to the Sunbury Eco-Hub in Bulla.
Transurban, the site operators of the West Gate Tunnel Project, will decide where the soil is to be processed.