Two properties in McBryde street Fawkner were the location of a NuFarm factory which manufactured herbicides, agent orange and other chemicals in the 1960s with dioxin a noted byproduct. The site has been called one of the top 10 most toxic sites in Australia.
Although residents forced the closure of the factory in the early 1970s, it was another 15 years before any site cleanup was done. The last time there was any official inspection was 1995. It is believed that the contaminated area is larger than the two properties where a clay cap keeps much of the contaminated soil contained.
This week the EPA Victoria have taken some soil samples to test for an array of toxic chemicals. What we really require is a thorough environmental audit of the entire site with community input to ensure full transparency on the testing regime. It is suspected that the area of contamination is much wider than the boundaries of the two properties being talked about, so testing should encompass this broader area.
One of the fears is that any development on either site risks penetration of the clay cap and exposure of contaminated soil to the air. This may pose a wind blown toxic danger to residents over a wide area.
The EPA says the clay cap is currently sound but plans shown in the permit application indicate “works for the proposed redevelopment are likely to penetrate the clay cap”. The question that needs to be asked: Are you okay with developers gambling with the health of residents and workers on a known toxic site?
There has been no formal medical studies undertaken but there is anecdotal evidence revealed by the Sunday Sun in 1990 of cancer clusters from residents in Fawkner and Reservoir. Those who worked at the NuFarm factory, it was said by local resident Brian Snowden, all contracted various cancers, whether they were workers on the factory floor, supervisors or management.
To keep abreast of the campaign and developments visit Toxic Free Fawkner on Facebook.
To make a submission to the property development application for 102 McBryde street (Source: Moreland City Council, reference MPS/2016/906) you can do so online at Planning Alerts. Your submission will be published online and also forwarded to Moreland Council for planning consideration.
Recent News on twitter and an account of Public residents meeting on Thursday 11 May.
The public meeting at the Fawkner senior citizens centre attracted about 90 people (I did a head count about 30 minutes into the meeting). Many came to find out more information. They were unaware there was a highly toxic site in Fawkner about to be developed.
Toxic site up for sale advertised as prime housing development site
102 McBryde street is presently up for sale. This site should become publicly owned land, decontaminated and remediated as best it can with a clay cap to seal long lived contaminants. Dioxin has an extremely long active life. The site should be remediated as public parkland. It should not be left to some dodgy housing development to proceed 10 years down the track that may imperil residents.
Here is how the real estate agency describes the property:
Strategic land bank opportunity with Merri Creek frontage
– 1,811 sqm level allotment with 40 m frontage to McBryde Street
– Rare opportunity to acquire land with direct access to Merri Creek Parklands
– Identified for future residential development by the City of Moreland
– Fawkner has experienced 34% median house price growth over the last 2 years (REA)
– Conveniently located minutes from Hume Highway and Western Ring Road
– Outstanding future potential in a thriving corridor