Asbestos found on endangered grassland

Adrian Marshall sitting where illegal dumping happened on endangered grassland in Truganina. (Damjan Janevski)

Liam McNally

Asbestos has been detected in material dumped on endangered Truganina grasslands.

An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spokesperson said action has been taken to investigate the incident.

“EPA has been working with co-regulators and the property owner of 643-707 Mt Atkinson Road, Truganina, since testing identified the presence of asbestos and other industrial waste materials in soil samples taken by EPA from the site following reports from council,” the spokesperson said.

The dumping is believed to have occurred on the site between December 2021 and February, 2022, and was discovered in April by a member of the conservationist group the Grassy Plains Network.

The site contains native Australian grasses, and is protected under the Melbourne Strategic Assessment.

The MSA is an agreement between state and federal governments that identifies 36 Conservation Areas that are supposed to protect the last remnant vegetation in Melbourne’s vast growth corridors are almost entirely privately owned.

Much of the Truganina property the dumping allegedly occurred on is within Conservation Area 9 of the MSA.

Grassy Plains Network facilitator Dr Adrian Marshall said the degradation of the grassland was an “environmental tragedy.”

“First it was complete disregard for environmental values. Now it’s disregard for human health,” he said.

Dr Marshall believes this type of problem arises from vulnerable species being held on private land.

“Not only can a privately held grassland be mismanaged with impunity, letting weeds smother the biodiversity, but they can be overgrazed as well, and there is damn well nothing that can be done,” he said.

“This is an unfolding environmental disaster.

“The Melbourne Strategic Assessment has been set-up to fail by both the federal and state authorities.”

Melton council is also investigating the matter.