F39 public liability – West Gate Tunnel project leads to discovery of contaminated soil

Date: Feb 28, 2020

A project at the West Gate Tunnel in Melbourne has led to the discovery of contaminated soil, delaying the project and shutting down Fiskville CFA training college, according to The Age.

The soil was found to be contaminated with chemicals such as asbestos and PFAS, and the news provider reported that representatives from the Environment Protection Authority were meeting with government officials in an attempt to fix the problem. Not only does the project now face delays and costly blowouts, but there are many other repercussions as well.

The issue of storing, transporting and cleaning the contaminated soil has been very difficult for those involved – the state government, the road operator company and joint-venture builders.

How does this affect local communities?

Some of the communities being considered as dumping grounds for the soil are calling for more transparency over what decisions are being made and how it will affect the surrounding areas, according to ABC. One small Victoria community, Bacchus Marsh, is home to the site of an old and abandoned coal mine that is being considered as a spot for the dumping of the contaminated soil. The site is only 500 metres away from a school. Also nearby are a nursing home, a market garden and the homes of many residents.

Residents say that they were not notified about the consideration of the site, and they are not the only ones. ABC News reported that other local communities are also being considered as potential dumping grounds, residents of which were not made aware of the potential for this to happen in their area.

Since these people were kept entirely in the dark, a number of potential public liability issues surround the matter. Occupants were never debriefed on any of the decision-making at any stage and were thus unable to protest the dumping of the contaminated soil or even properly prepare for the effects to their health that could come with it.

Residents were also not enlightened on how the plans would be implemented, or even told about other places that were (and still are) being considered to house the contaminated soil. As such, the potential for increased tensions between local government and the citizens of these communities looms large – and so does the possibility of civil lawsuits.

The experts at Gerard Malouf & Partners can help determine if you're entitled to compensation in issues of public liability. Contact our team today for a consultation.

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