‘Selective’ clean-up process angers residents

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Hazelwood mine fire affected residents who attempted to access the State Government’s $2 million clean-up package expressed disappointment after being told they must first contact their insurance service provider, prompting some to believe the assistance was selective.

Lorraine Buoo, 68, who lives 500 metres from the coal mine, said Latrobe City Council staff at the Community Information Centre in Morwell had advised her to phone her insurance company for possible coverage before registering for help.

“They were helpful but also suggested that I contact my insurance company,” Ms Buoo said.

“I suppose half of the concern is whether the insulation (of my house) can be cleaned because (it) may need to be replaced rather than just cleaned.

“I need the roof cavity cleaned and I need the roof hosed down with a high pressure hose, but I can’t climb up on the roof and do it even though I’m basically healthy.

“That’s why I’ve come here to see if there’s someone available who will actually clean the roof for me.”

Ms Buoo said she does not mind spending a few hundred dollars to have her insulation replaced but wondered if mine operator GDF Suez should not have a part in the clean-up drive.

“Can I ask GDF Suez to pay for this if my insurance company will not cover it?” she said.

“I can probably cope with $600-$700 excess but to replace all the insulation is quite a big cost.

“Why should I be expected to pay for something that wasn’t my fault?”

Ms Buoo said she was happy the government was shelling out some funds for the clean-up, but said it should not be selective.

“I hope all residents are able to take advantage of it, not just the people on the south side,” she said.

“All of Morwell’s been affected. I think it should be offered to everybody.”

Sharon Stinding, another Morwell resident, said centre staff told her to wait for a phone call from council to see if she was eligible for assistance.

Ms Stinding said she was not told how long she must wait for the phone call.

Simon Ellis, president of community group Voices of the Valley, said assistance should be made available to all Morwell residents and a registration was not necessary.

Mr Ellis said a $2 million assistance package may not be enough to clear homes and business establishments of mine dusts considering it took several weeks before the fire was put under control.