Environment Protection Authority Victoria has seized control of Stawell’s notorious rubber stockpile.
EPA chief executive Nial Finegan said works had begun to remove the tyres after no “obvious activity” to recycle the used tyres at the site for an extended period of time.
“It is EPA’s view that the stockpile is being handled in a manner by the owners that is likely to cause an environmental hazard,” he said.
“We are taking action after repeated failure by the site’s owners to comply with EPA notices and a Country Fire Authority (CFA) Fire Protection Notice issued to reduce the risk of fire at the site to protect the community.
“As a result, EPA has used its powers under Section 62 of the Environment Protection Act 1970 to conduct the cleanup.”
It is estimated about 8-10 trucks filled with tyres will leave the site six days a week and be sent to Melbourne for shredding.
Mr Finegan said air quality, firewater runoff into waterways and land contamination would be environmental impacts which could result from a tyre fire.
“By removing this stockpile, EPA will remove this risk to both community and our environment,” he said.
Once the tyres are shredded, they could be used throughout the construction, manufacturing and automotive industries.
Mr Finegan said shredded tyres could even be used for athletics tracks, brake pads, new tyres and road surfaces.
“A portion of these shredded tyres will also be used as tyre derived fuel, which is often shipped overseas to destinations that have the technology to use it,” he said.
EPA has asked the community to take notice safety signage and to avoid the site while works are being undertaken.
“There will be many trucks and pieces of heavy machinery equipment in operation throughout the entire process of removing the tyres,” Mr Finegan said.
“As the exact number of tyres on the site is unknown, it is difficult to determine how long it will take to reduce the tyre stockpile so it does not pose a huge environmental hazard.”
Some vegetation in the area has been lawfully removed to allow for trucks and heavy machinery to enter the premises.
Previous site owners, Used Tyre Recycling Corporation have been contacted for comment.