Future fires at waste and recycling plants could be difficult to manage, with the sector “ill-prepared and ill-equipped” to manage fire risks, according to a damning new report.
An interim report from the Resource Recovery Facilities Audit Taskforce reveals that many of the state’s resource recovery centres would struggle to deal with future fires.
The taskforce was set up by the government in the aftermath of a massive fire at the SKM Recycling Plant in Coolaroo in July.
The blaze took 20 days to extinguish and forced many Dallas residents out of their homes.
Five people, including a four-year-old girl, were taken to hospital with smoke-induced conditions, while another eight were treated at a community relief centre. The taskforce said the fire highlighted the risk of inappropriately stockpiling combustible materials.
The government asked the taskforce to target recycling sites in need of extra management measures to ensure community safety.
To date, the taskforce has conducted 88 inspections of 73 sites, resulting in 37 statutory notices being issued. The interim report said that while no site was as high a fire risk as Coolaroo, the sector needed to be better prepared to manage the risk of fire.
Issues identified at recycling sites ranged from minor housekeeping matters to major failings resulting in significant ongoing risk, the report stated.
Inspections will continue until June 2018.
Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the government would consider recommendations from the taskforce about how to reduce the fire risk.
“This is about improving safety measures and helping to prevent a fire from happening in the first place,” she said.
“The taskforce is auditing recycling facilities across the state to identify and prioritise sites that require action.”