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Massive amounts of soil being dug up to build the $6.7 billion West Gate Tunnel will exceed Victoria’s landfill capacity, forcing controversial landfill expansions in Melbourne's north and west.
The Victorian Environment Protection Authority has approved plans to send most of the toll road project's PFAS-contaminated soil to two landfills – Maddingley Brown Coal in Bacchus Marsh and Hi-Quality in Bulla.
Maddingley Brown Coal in Bacchus Marsh is one of two landfill sites approved to take most of the soil from the West Gate Tunnel.CREDIT:LUIS ASCUI
Maddingley plans to expand by 100 hectares and Hi-Quality by 25 hectares to accept the soil, but Planning Minister Richard Wynne needs to approve planning scheme amendments to allow this.
The West Gate Tunnel has put the state's landfill capacity under enormous strain, the EPA confirmed.
Burying the project's 3 million tonnes of waste over an 18-month period is impossible "without exhausting existing capacity in the market", the EPA said. Landfills in metropolitan Melbourne can accept about 650,000 tonnes of waste soil annually. Most of it is sent to Hi-Quality and Cleanaway Ravenhall.
The West Gate Tunnel's boring activity will generate up to 11,000 tonnes per day, exceeding the current rate at which landfills can accept rock and soil – up to 7000 tonnes daily.
"In addition, the tunnel soil will be wet and requires a large area to spread out to aid dewatering prior to deposit in a cell – the space and infrastructure is not available at most landfills," the EPA said.
The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald flagged a landfill shortage in November last year due to large amounts of soil being dug up across major infrastructure projects the West Gate Tunnel, the North East Link and the Metro Tunnel.
Most waste dug up on infrastructure projects is typically considered "cleanfill" and can be reused on other projects.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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