The Coolaroo recycling plant that was the site of a major blaze in July, 2017, has been ordered to stop accepting waste materials by the Environment Protection Authority.

The EPA has issued recycler SKM Services with notices requiring it to stop accepting recyclable waste materials at its sites in Maffra Street, Coolaroo, and Gilberston Road, Laverton North.

The company also operates a site in Mornington.

Its plants are used by councils across Victoria including Hume, Macedon Ranges, Brimbank, Wyndham and Hobsons Bay. About 5000 tonnes of recycling is sent to the Coolaroo and Laverton North plants each week.

The Coolaroo recycling plant was the site of three fires in 2017, including a major blaze in July that covered parts of the northern suburbs in acrid smoke and forced Dallas residents out of their homes. The fire burned for 11 days.

Following the July fire, the Victorian government’s Resource Recovery Facilities Audit Taskforce inspected the Coolaroo site 47 times, resulting in the EPA issuing 12 notices relating to clean-up of the site, stormwater issues and stockpile configuration.

 

The Coolaroo recycling plant caught fire on July 13, 2017. Picture: Twitter/@EMV_news ‏

EPA chief executive Cathy Wilkinson said officers recently inspected SKM’s Coolaroo and Laverton North sites and observed large stockpiles of combustible recyclable materials from kerb-side collections stored without appropriate separation between stockpiles, buildings or the premises’ boundaries.

“EPA has determined that these stockpiles are in breach of the waste management policy that has been in place since August 2017,” Dr Wilkinson said.

“As the regulator, EPA’s view is that SKM has fallen short of meeting the requirements of the policy, which is completely unacceptable and poses a real risk to local communities.

“EPA has also determined that SKM has not taken reasonable steps to manage and store combustible recyclable waste materials at these facilities in a manner that minimises the risks of harm to human health and the environment from fire.”

 

The July 2017 fire caused thick black smoke to blanket the northern suburbs. Picture: Twitter/@MFB_NEWS.

Recycling facility operators who store combustible recyclable waste materials are required to manage materials in a way that minimises risks to health and the environment in the event of a fire.

SKM will be unable to accept waste until the EPA has confirmed the sites are complaint with the waste management policy.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the government was assisting councils with contingency plans so there is no disruption to kerbside recycling collections.