Fresh legal fight over plan to dump contaminated West Gate Tunnel soil in Bacchus Marsh

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An environmental group is taking the Environment Protection Authority and Maddingley Brown Coal to court over plans to dump contaminated soil from the West Gate Tunnel at a landfill in Bacchus Marsh.

The latest court battle for the EPA comes just days after Bacchus Marsh Grammar school launched legal action over the controversial plan that has sparked major delays on the tunnel project and potential cost blowouts.

Moorabool Environment Group has taken action over the plans for contaminated soil from the West Gate Tunnel project. Credit:Wayne Taylor

The Moorabool Environment Group filed an originating motion in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, seeking a judicial review of an EPA decision that has paved the way for Maddingley Brown Coal to receive tunnel boring machine spoil from the West Gate Tunnel project at its Bacchus Marsh landfill, in Melbourne's outer west, if it gets state government approval.

The group has claimed the EPA, when approving the operator's environment management plans, failed to take into account the presence of growling grass frogs, a threatened species, and that the decision was "unreasonable, and no reasonable decision-maker could have made it".

"It's a decision that we thought through thoroughly, and as a result of the concerns we have around the environmental impact of the proposal on waterways and endangered species," group president Jodie Valpied said.

"We're also concerned about the impact on the residents of the town itself, and the fresh produce that the town provides to the rest of Victoria."

The operator is yet to receive planning approval from the state government and must bid, with Hi Quality in Bulla and Cleanaway in Ravenhall, for the work from the builders delivering the West Gate Tunnel project.

Maddingley Brown Coal is 800 metres from Bacchus Marsh Grammar, and Parwan Creek, which feeds into Werribee River, runs through the landfill site.

An EPA spokesman said: "The environment management plan for Maddingley Brown Coal requires a thorough assessment of potential environmental impacts.

"Environment Protection Authority Victoria’s detailed assessment process has confirmed the site is able to manage material safely."

The approval has angered Bacchus Marsh locals and the Moorabool Shire Council, which have been vocal in their opposition amid fears the spoil is contaminated with PFAS, a known carcinogenic.

Issues over the soil sparked major delays on the project, including potential cost blowouts.

Maddingley Brown Coal has been contacted for comment.

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