Latrobe City puts lead monitoring on agenda

Alyssa Fritzlaff

A NEW system to monitor Latrobe Valley’s lead levels was discussed at Latrobe City Council’s (LCC) monthly meeting on Monday, March 7.

Since the approval of the Used Lead and Acid Battery (ULAB) recycling facility in
Hazelwood North, many members of the community have voiced concerns about airborne
and soil lead levels increasing.

LCC previously refused the planning application for the facility in September 2020, but it was later approved by the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne.

The issue of a lead monitoring system in Latrobe City was originally discussed at a council meeting back in May 2021, when the council requested a report exploring the available options from Monarc Environmental, an environmental consultant.

Since then, they have received a quote totalling $12,000 for Monarc to undertake
recommended works and forming a report on the area.

The proposed resolution to the issue at Monday’s meeting was that it be delegated
to Latrobe City’s chief executive officer Steven Piasente, to have Monarc Environmental
undertake further work in regards to options for an air and soil monitoring system in
the area, and request a further report be presented to the council.

Cr Sharon Gibson put forward an alternate motion during the meeting, in which she
made several suggestions.

The alternate motion suggested that council seek the assistance of the EPA to undertake
testing in the area outside the location of the facilities approved location.

It also requested that assessments be made to ascertain baseline lead levels and other
metals in the soil and an ongoing commitment be made for soil assessments.

Additionally, the motion state that council would continue to advocate to the Valley’s
Health Advocate, the Planning Minister and the Minister for funding to enable the EPA to
undertake air monitoring that is public available in real time. The motion also requested
that the EPA engage with the community in regards to the testing.

“This is all about putting it back to the authorities as to what can be put in place to
allay people’s fears,” Cr Gibson said.

“This alternate motion is asking the assistance of the EPA to undertake testing in the
general area

“We also want an urgent assessment of what is there now, because if you do not have a baseline, how can you tell if there’s been any effect? You can’t do it,” she said.

This alternate motion was carried unanimously, with Cr Graeme Middlemiss commenting on the probable cost of a monitoring machine.

“It appears that the cost of a machine to do real time monitoring… is somewhere in the region of $200,000, which is a little bit concerning for whoever’s got to pay for it,” he said.

Despite the costs, Mr Middlemiss was supportive of the alternate motion.