People power mobilises

By Ewen McRae

Anger continues to simmer in Bacchus Marsh over a proposal to store contaminated soil at the Maddingley Brown Coal site.
A petition opposing the MBC tender was delivered to Parliament on Monday with more than 4,400 signatures.

Last week, more than 400 people attended a town meeting to discuss a tender from MBC to receive and store unclassified soil from the Westgate Tunnel Project.
The tender is with Transurban, which will decide on its preferred site.It will then need to be ratified by the planning minister.
Members of a newly formed group, the Bacchus Marsh Community Coalition, which organised and ran last week’s meeting, said their concerns about the proposed dumping were growing.
“[Maddingley Brown Coal] has Parwan Creek running through it, it’s adjacent to Werribee River, very close to Bacchus Marsh Grammar and Bacchus Marsh College schools, and those waterways obviously service the irrigators in the market gardens of the area,” a spokesman for the group said.
“We don’t want this here.”

Local MPs Steve McGhie and Michaela Settle said they would take all community concerns to the minister and the Environment Protection Authority.
Upper house Liberal MP Beverley McArthur told the meeting it was disappointing that decisions about the storage of the soil were being made at such a late stage in the process.
“In 2017 it was well known that this soil was contaminated,” she said.

“Nearly three years later, the state government is in discussions with multiple landfill operators, and you’re quite right to have concerns about what might happen if this contaminated soil comes into your area.
“This is a famous and vitally important food bowl, feeding the people of Melbourne and beyond. We cannot risk contamination.”
The Bacchus Marsh coalition has received support from a similar group in Wyndham which is opposing a plan to use a Wyndham Vale stabling yard to store toxic soil.
The Wyndham group says they are planning to blockade the stabling yard if any contaminated soil makes it’s way there, while a tractor convoy will lead a planned rally through the streets of Werribee on the night of March 3.