Numerous enforcement actions and legal actions were issued during the operation of the business, but by the time the governing bodies intervened the site had collected a mixture of construction and demolition waste which in some places , reached 20 meters in height.
The trash heap included wood, dirt, brick, concrete, plastic, glass and ceramics. It took up to 100 workers over three years to gently remove the waste.
Although the waste is mainly made up of recyclable materials, only 10% could be recycled due to asbestos contamination. Polluted materials, including soil, were taken to approved off-site landfills.
The wood found was processed and ground into 26,000 cubic meters of mulch. Approximately 85% of this mulch was recycled off-site for vegetation work. The rest was sent to landfill.
Due to its location just 1.2 kilometers from a housing estate, significant measures were put in place to reduce the risk of fire while workers removed the waste. These included infrared CCTV cameras, a million liters of reservoir water and drone surveillance.
The financial mess left by the bankrupt recycling company is also huge, and regulators are looking to claw back as much as they can of the $71 million bill that has, so far, been paid by taxpayers. . The final cost of the project will be determined in the coming months.
The site is under the responsibility of liquidator PwC, after the landowner, the South Korean company Australian Sawmilling Company, went into liquidation in 2019.
“We continue to work to recover the costs associated with the cleanup by suing the site’s former owners, occupants and other affected parties,” an EPA spokesperson said.
Kylie Grzybek, a councilor from Greater Geelong, said she hoped the government’s work to recover costs from the site’s former owners and occupants would be successful.
But the EPA has suggested that because of limits on liquidators, all cleanup costs are unlikely to be recovered.
PwC declined to respond to age for comment.
In November 2017, McAuliffe was notified by the EPA to remove all waste stored at the site within four weeks, which it failed to do.
The following year, his company was declared insolvent by order of the Federal Court, after refusing to pay a tax debt of $307,000.
McAuliffe also claimed to be bankrupt, but a Age an investigation revealed that he planned to sail to the Whitsundays in a 28-meter yacht owned by a trust controlled by a family member, and leave the mound of toxic waste to the authorities.
He later pleaded guilty to nine counts, brought by the City of Greater Geelong, of breaching VCAT orders and failing to comply with EPA orders to dispose of waste.
McAuliffe was spared jail time after successfully appealing his 90-day prison sentence in 2020. He died later that year.
Our latest news alert will be notify you important breaking news as it happens. Get it here.