The company at the centre of a massive chemical fire in Campbellfield last Friday had its licence suspended by the Environment Protection Authority 15 days before the blaze.
The Environment Protection Authority suspended Bradbury Industrial Services’ licence on March 21, after a March 13 investigation found the company was storing more waste than permitted under its licence.
A fire broke out at the company’s Thornycroft Street site about 6.40am on April 5.
The EPA’s Damian Wells told a community meeting in Broadmeadows last Friday that investigators believed about 400,000 litres of waste was being stored on the site during the March 13 inspection.
A subsequent inspection the day before the fire found about 300,000 litres. The company is licensed to store 150,000 litres.
The EPA said storage containers on the site were not adequately labelled and were being handled outside an adequately bounded area.
An EPA statement from March 21 said Bradbury Industrial Services provides storage and disposal services for hazardous and industrial waste and specialises in treating solvent and other waste from paint and related industries.
Mr Wells told the community meeting it was a “privilege” to hold an EPA licence. “When that is abused, we will suspend the licence,” he said.
Angry residents attended Friday’s community meeting, demanding to know what the EPA and other agencies were doing to prevent future incidents.
MFB deputy chief officer Ken Brown told residents that the fire would have been much bigger if the EPA hadn’t inspected the site last month and suspended the company’s licence.
Mr Brown said the fire site was the size of two Olympic swimming pools, and was believed to contain dangerous goods that caused a number of explosions.
Mr Brown said the fire was an “eighth alarm” blaze – the same rating as last year’s West Footscray fire. More than 175 firefighters took about four hours to contain the fire, which caused thick black smoke to spread over Melbourne.