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Rail workers say they will not set foot on a rail yard in Melbourne's west if it becomes a dangerous dump site for the West Gate Tunnel's toxic soil, potentially leading to mass train cancellations on the strained V/Line network.
The Age has revealed a controversial state government proposal to dump the toll road's soil — contaminated with potential carcinogens PFAS and asbestos — at a Wyndham Vale rail yard, just metres away from housing and four planned schools.
The Wyndham Vale rail stabling yard now under construction is just north of housing estates.CREDIT:JOE ARMAO
The government has said it plans to use the 82-hectare government-owned site in Treasurer Tim Pallas' Werribee electorate as a "back-up, temporary" dumping ground, but the move has triggered a fierce backlash among local residents.
It comes as internal V/Line documents reveal that the $180 million rail yard will play a vital role in ensuring an efficient V/Line service through desperately needed maintenance and train storage space.
The Wyndham Vale rail yard is being built at a cost of $180 million to replace the Footscray train stabling site which is being removed as part of the $6.7 billion West Gate Tunnel works.
But operations at the new rail yard, which is set to open within months, could face serious challenges, with the Rail, Tram and Bus Union warning that members would not enter a site that puts their health at risk.
"If this is confirmed, and it's dangerous to our members, it would be irresponsible for V/Line to expect our people to work there," head of the locomotive division Marc Marotta said. "We just won't go in there if it poses any danger."
In a letter sent to the state government on Monday night, the union's secretary Luba Grigorovitch said plans to use the facility as a dumping ground were "completely unacceptable".
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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