A state government taskforce has been set up to audit recycling sites in the wake of a fire at a Coolaroo plant which forced people to evacuate their homes.

The taskforce, comprising Environment Protection Authority, MFB, CFA and Emergency Management Victoria, will identify sites that require action, such as a fire management plan, to protect the community.

Energy, Environment and Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the taskforce would target recycling sites.

The state government also plans to give the EPA greater power over recycling plants.

SKM Recycling’s Coolaroo site operates under a permit issued by Hume council.

Ms D’Ambrosio said the new powers would further clarify the EPA’s role and require operators of recycling plants to take reasonable steps to minimise risks of harm from pollution and waste.

Hume council chief executive Domenic Isola welcomed news of the taskforce and pending audit. However, he said the council would wait for a full investigation into the fire before commenting.

“The health and welfare of our local residents and businesses should be at the forefront of any action,” Mr Isola said.

The council’s environmental health officers and staff from the Department of Health and Human Services and Victorian Council of Churches have started visiting homes within the evacuation zone to check on residents’ welfare and provide information about cleaning up any ash around the house.

Details: www.hume.vic.gov.au