Residents in Melbourne's industrial suburbs are fed-up at being a dumping ground for hazardous waste, urging the state government to crackdown on the industry in the wake of a factory fire.
Sheridan Tate, a Coolaroo resident, told a rally of 50 people on Monday night that Melbourne’s northern and western suburbs community had had enough after a Campbellfield fire spewed thick black smoke over homes.
“People out there are angry, people out there are tired, they have had enough. We are a dumping ground. Why should we be the dumping ground?” she shouted outside the Global Learning Centre in Broadmeadows on Monday night.
“The northern and western suburbs are just treated like the tip for everyone else and this has got to stop.”
The government needs to be held accountable as it failed each and every person that lives in this area, she said.
Earlier, trade unionist Marcus Harrington called on Hume council to support an immediate crackdown on the waste industry, and for the council to audit all industrial facilities handling chemicals in the area.
“Each and every factory, warehouse, waste facility need to be audited, needs to be policed by the regulators,” he shouted, ahead of a council meeting.
“Four fires in three years. We will keep coming back here until things change.”
Victorian Socialists candidate for Calwell Jerome Small said Friday’s Campbellfield blaze at Bradbury Industrial Services Pty had failed to protect the community, and wanted Environmental Protection Authority to act.
“How many times do the people of the north and the west in the industrial suburbs of Melbourne have to get blasted with toxic waste before we say this is a systematic problem?” he said.
Denis Moore, who owns a building material storage facility next to the Campbellfield fire site, said it was up to the state government to fix up.
“The chemicals are explosives. The EPA is not doing the job because they lack of number and state support,” he said.
“Not knowing there are dangerous chemicals on the property, that’s the hardest thing for the residents because they are saying it is toxic.”
Councillor Jack Medcraft told AAP the responsibility rested with the state government and the environmental watchdog, but he supported an independent audit of sites in the local area to prevent further fires.
More than 175 firefighters brought the fire under control on Friday but it is still burning and is yet to be fully extinguished.
Victorian Coroner Darren Bracken attended the site on Friday and will investigate the cause of the blaze.
Operators of the Campbellfield business had their licence suspended by the Environmental Protection Agency in March.
The company had been repeatedly found storing excess highly-flammable material.