EPA clears Valley soil

The EPA has carried out soil testing near the proposed Hazelwood North ULAB. image supplied

Michelle Slater

SOIL-TESTING conducted near a used lead acid battery recycling plant being built in Hazelwood North has shown little or no signs of contamination, according to the Environment Protection Authority.

The EPA carried out the soil sampling on behalf of Latrobe City Council in response to community concerns about any health impacts of the development.

A report found all results were “below the relevant health investigation levels”.

The EPA collected surface soil in July from 90 sites around the proposed battery plant on Fourth Road, including from surrounding industrial areas and public spaces in residential areas in Morwell and Churchill.

It analysed 316 samples to determine baseline levels of trace elements, including of lead, aluminium and mercury.

“Given that the measured soil trace element concentrations are below health investigation levels, there are no recommendations for further follow-up in relation to the locations sampled,” the report stated.

The EPA testing was focussing on lead due to community concerns over legacy contamination from potential industries such as leaded petrol emissions, industry and coal-fired power stations.

The report said the proposed battery plant had raised concerns that it “may add contaminants to the soil around the site” that could be above health investigation levels.

It said soil assessment in these showed “no significant impact from previous anthropogenic activities”.

“This finding can be contrasted to the comparatively elevated concentrations of trace elements found in major cities across Australia, including Melbourne,” it said.

“Given the absence of significant anthropogenic contamination, there are no recommended actions based on the samples analysed for this study.”

A Latrobe City spokesperson said the council welcomed the results, which followed a request for the EPA carry out the tests in the general area outside of the proposed facility.

“Council places a priority in continuing this engagement with our community on this matter, and will continue to work with the EPA to ensure the community remains informed,” the spokesperson said.

The Express contacted community action group ALiVe for a response.