Almost a decade after one of Australia’s worst toxic fires, the West Australian Government has moved to control the flow of contaminated water beneath the site.
In February 2001, a fire at a waste storage site in Bellevue, east of Perth, caused chemical drums to explode and rain down on nearby properties.
Firefighters, unaware of the chemicals in the fire, drenched the blaze with water, which is now contaminated and has been slowly moving towards the Helena River.
After a parliamentary inquiry, investigations costing $4 million, and years of complaints from residents, the Environment Minister Donna Faragher has announced the construction of a $3 million underground barrier to filter the contaminated water.
“The construction will comprise two parallel trenches around 11 metres deep and 76 metres long,” she said.
“It will take around two months for it to be constructed, and it will be filled with a range of materials such as sawdust and sand and iron and sand mixes.”
Ms Faragher says the method to be used is an Australian first.
The minister has defended the amount of time taken to start the remediation work.
“There has been extensive investigations of the site,” she said.
“There’s been better understanding with respect to the groundwater movement in the area.
“Yes, it has taken a long time. The explosion did occur back in 2001. But we have made sure, that in a very short period of time that funding has been allocated to the remediation of this site.”