Maddingley Brown Coal is proposing to develop the Western Soil Treatment facility to receive and safely manage spoil dug up from the project.
The proposal has received planning approvals. MBC is working to finalise its environmental approvals.
The West Gate Tunnel is a State Significant road project.
Western Soil Treatment is situated within a State Significant Waste hub that includes a licensed Category C landfill.
The spoil will arrive at the site wet, like thick mud. It will be placed in specially constructed storage bays that are lined with layers of compacted clay, cement, lime and other materials to ensure they are watertight.
A sample from each batch of soil will be sent to a laboratory for testing on a daily basis. This testing will be conducted in line with national policies for managing PFAS and EPA regulations and requirements. The EPA has confirmed that the expected level of PFAS is very low (up to 0.7 micrograms per litre).
The spoil will be held in the storage bays for a maximum of 21 days before being moved into the second area, a lined containment cell that is engineered to the highest safety standards.
The design of the containment cells has been upgraded, doubling the strength of the liner system.
Water from the facility will be drained into a purpose-built pond. A treatment plant will remove traces if PFAS through a state-of-the-art filtration process, leaving clean water that meets drinking water standards.
For more information, download the FAQs, a Fact Sheet and a summary of the EPA assessment of the initial proposal and documents released by the Minister for Planning in approving the planning application.
A state-of-the-art wastewater facility will treat water to remove traces of PFAS.
Water from the wet spoil, storage bays and containment cell will drain into a large wastewater pond.
There, the wastewater will be passed through a filtration system that uses carbon filters
Any PFAS in the water will bond to the carbon filters. Full filters will be taken to a licensed facility for disposal.
This process leaves behind clean water that meets drinking water standards. This water will be used for onsite for dust suppression, forming a closed-loop wastewater treatment cycle.
Environmental Management Plan
Western Soil Treatment will be operated in line with strict EPA regulations.
The facility will be built and operated in line with an Environmental Management Plan, which has been submitted to the EPA.
The Environment Management Plan details how the facility will receive, handle, analyse and dispose of the soil, including the removal of traces of PFAS from wastewater.
The Environmental Management Plan covers all aspects of the facility, including tunnel spoil management and handling, sampling and analysis, wastewater treatment and disposal.
It also includes requirements for regular checks by an EPA appointed independent auditor.
Planning scheme amendment
The Minister for Planning has rezoned the Western Soil Treatment site to allow the facility to be built and operated for the 18 months to two years that the project is expected to take.
The approval allows for the facility to be built in line with conditions set by the Minister for Planning in consultation with stakeholders, including Moorabool Shire Council.
It also provides the conditions to allow the facility to operate and receive West Gate Tunnel Project spoil, subject to further conditions. Conditions relate to issues like traffic management and road safety, flora and fauna, noise and dust mitigation, site closure and aftercare management.
To view the planning application and the approval issued by the Minister for Planning, visit https://www.planning.vic.gov.au/schemes-and-amendments/browse-amendments
Before the site can receive spoil from the West Gate Tunnel Project, it needs to be selected by the project’s builders and built in line with approval conditions.
Update – 15 December 2020
Maddingley Brown Coal is aware of reports that it has commenced major work to construct its proposed Western Soil Treatment facility in recent days.
MBC has not – as has been reported – commenced on-site works that involve significant numbers of truck movements, or works that will create significant disruption.
As a condition of its approved Planning Scheme Amendment, MBC needed to have temporary signage and lighting delivered to access routes before any other work could commence. This occurred on Thursday 10 December.
The EPA has advised that MBC’s Environment Management Plan will be withdrawn because of a technical legal error. The EPA has confirmed that, in its view, the EMP “met strict conditions designed to protect human health and the environment. That has not changed.”
MBC understands there is community concern about the spoil from the West Gate Tunnel Project. MBC has worked to develop a competitive proposal that responds to community concerns and will endeavour to keep the community better informed as the project progress.
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