Toxic soil fight ‘not over’


By Jessica Micallef

Sunbury and Bulla residents have been left “gobsmacked and appalled” as the prospect of toxic soil from the West Gate Tunnel Project being dumped in Bulla moves a step closer.

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has approved waste management and recycling company Hi-Quality’s Environment Management Plan (EMP) to send soil to the Sunbury Eco-Hub on Sunbury Road, Bulla.

The EPA has also approved Maddingly Brown Coal’s EMP in its bid to process the soil in Bacchus Marsh.

The EPA said it had assessed the plans for potential environmental impacts including runoff, odour and potential land, surface and groundwater risks, and the approval of an EMP did not mark the final decision on where the soil would be sent.

The two sites still need approval from the state planning minister before the soil can be dumped.

Sunbury resident Deb Butler said the Bulla and Sunbury communities were gobsmacked by the EPA’s decision.

“It is devastating for us,” she said.

“We are trying to find ways to stop this from happening to our community.

“There has been no consultation and there is absolutely no right of appeal.

“I cannot fathom that in Victoria, we do not have the ability to appeal a decision that could have have such a devastating impact on our community.”

Ms Butler said the COVID-19 pandemic had prevented and restricted locals from voicing their concerns and rallying against the proposal to send toxic soil their way.

“We have been really respectful of the COVID-19 restrictions,” she said.

“We haven’t been able to go out and put some signs up or protest because we realise how important the COVID-19 restrictions are.”

Chris O’Neill, creator of Facebook group Sunbury Against Toxic Soil, said he was disappointed by the lack of community consultation from the EPA.

“It is absolutely appalling and disgusting,” he said.

“The EPA themselves have not consulted with the community … and they just seem to not care about what they are doing.

“This is someone dumping 1.5 millions tonnes of toxic soil.

“About 864 trucks a day will be travelling over Bulla Bridge, a bridge we already know cannot support the traffic using it now.”

Ms Butler said the community’s fight was far from over. She said she was more determined than ever to try and put a stop to the soil being dumped in her neighbourhood.

“We are going to continue our fight,” she said.

“We have spoken to several minsters … to help us fight this and get further support onboard.

“We want to make noise and get our voices heard and combine our efforts with Bacchus Marsh because we feel for their community as well.”

Transurban, the site operators of the West Gate Tunnel Project, will decide where the soil is to be processed.