The massive, statewide clean up effort following last summer’s Victorian bushfires has finished on schedule, with 736 properties across East Gippsland and north east Victoria cleared of destroyed and damaged buildings.
East Gippsland Shire mayor, Cr John White, said the completion of the bushfire clean-up program was a very important milestone and just one aspect of recovery where council is playing a major role in supporting the community.
“Council has played a significant role in supporting the clean-up program and the efforts of our skilled staff and contractors have certainly assisted in the clean-up meeting its August completion,” Cr White said.
“A major component of the clean-up was ensuring waste – all classed as asbestos contaminated – had somewhere safe to bedeposited. We were able to establish the Orbost Landfill site to receive bushfire only waste in less than three weeks. Over 24 weeks we accepted more than 43,000 tonnes of waste at Orbost.
“Our work with bushfire waste is being highlighted as an excellent example on how to manage disaster waste in the future. This is a great reflection on council staff who managed this project at a local level with a high degree of flexibility and success.
“It was also a great example of council, the EPA, government and regional contractors working together for community benefit. I thank the Orbost community for their understanding with higher than normal traffic volumes during the clean-up, and the broader community for their patience with contractors on the road.
“We are now working with the EPA to install the final cap and rehabilitate the site.”
Council also accepted 8631 tonnes of bushfire clean-up waste at its Bairnsdale landfill.
“I thank Grocon for its efforts in the clean-up, and the many local contractors for their diligence and care when assisting our community with this important stage of bushfire recovery.”
In total, the 2020 clean up program demolished, cleared and disposed of more than 2500 individual structures on 547 properties in East Gippsland Shire, 183 properties in Towong Shire and five properties in the Alpine Shire. In total, 75,000 tonnes of bushfire waste was cleared.
Properties in East Gippsland produced an average of almost nine truckloads of asbestos- contaminated bushfire waste, and tip trucks travelled over 1.2 million kilometres to and from waste facilities to dispose of it safely and securely.
All stored waste is tracked and will be monitored for a significant period of time.
Grocon and subcontractor crews worked 370,000 hours on clean up.
At their peak the crews, half of which were locals from bushfire-affected postcodes, were able to clear up to 60 properties each week.
Cr White said communities, and individuals, were at different stages of their recovery.
“We are seeing how different communities, with the support of council and Bushfire Recovery Victoria, are leading their own recovery and we are also seeing a constant flow of residents using the free Bushfire Rebuild Support Service.
“The Bushfire Rebuild Support Service provides specialised advice to help streamline both any planning application requirements and overall rebuild.
“Our planning team has sourced dedicated resource to ensure bushfire rebuild applications are processed as quickly as possible and also identified several opportunities for streamlining that will result in shorter turnaround times. It’s important to note that bushfire rebuild permits still have to go through a referral process with other agencies (eg CFA) and are only exempt from advertising.
“As of last Friday (August 28), there had been 131 referrals to the Bushfire Rebuild Support Service and 88 applications were being prepared. Fifty-eight planning applications have been lodged and 35 approved.
“It’s great to see some residents well progressed with their rebuilds, and I believe some will be in their new homes before Christmas,” Cr White said.
Grocon has completed its bushfire clean up of more than 700 properties across East Gippsland and north east Victoria. (PS)