Explore our frequently asked questions
Does the EMP approval mean Hi-Quality Group will be awarded the contract?
While it is an important step in the tender process, the EPA is not responsible for contracting decisions in relation to the West Gate Tunnel Project. The EPA’s approval simply means Hi-Quality’s proposal meets the rigorous standards required of its Environmental Management Plan. The competitive tender for the contract to treat and safely dispose of the spoil from the Project is still underway.
What do the EMP regulations entail?
In June 2020, the Victorian Government created new regulations tailored for the management and disposal of the tunnel boring machine spoil. These outline the standards and requirements that contractors must meet in safely managing the spoil. You can find out more at the EPA’s website here.
Why were the guidelines changed?
Hi-Quality does not have a role in developing EPA guidelines. You can find out more about the Environmental Management Plan requirements at the EPA website here.
What are the next steps on the tender?
The competitive tender for the contract to treat and safely dispose of the spoil from the West Gate Tunnel Project is still underway. Hi-Quality still requires planning approvals from the Victorian Government, and an outcome of the preferred site for the spoil disposal.
Is contaminated material from the tunnel project already being taken to the Bulla site?
Hi-Quality Group’s Sunbury Eco-Hub has taken non-contaminated and contaminated soil from major infrastructure projects since 2003.
We have EPA Victoria approvals to accept soil from parts of the West Gate Tunnel project, such as from road widening works, and have done so over the past 12 months in line with EPA requirements.
Our current proposal is to construct a new, temporary facility to store and treat the spoil (wet soil) material from the tunnel boring machines. If approved, this temporary facility will involve specially engineered and constructed bays to hold the material safely and securely, so it can be tested and treated before safe disposal or reuse.
Tunnel boring has not yet commenced on the project, so Hi-Quality has not accepted any soil excavated from the tunnel boring machines to date.
You can find out more about the tunnel boring machine operations via the West Gate Tunnel project here.
Is Hi-Quality already dumping asbestos and other hazardous waste material?
Hi-Quality Group’s Sunbury Eco-Hub has been taking contaminated and non-contaminated materials since 2003. It is licensed by EPA Victoria to accept several kinds of prescribed industrial waste (PIW) including contaminated soil and solid wastes, including all forms of asbestos, solid inert and putrescible.
Hi Quality Group has 55 years of experience adopting best practice processes in quarrying, recycling and waste management around the country. It has a proven track record of safe and sustainable operations.
Is it true that trucks are dumping soil at Hi-Quality all through the night?
Under our existing licences, Hi-Quality Group has been operating 24 hours, seven days a week since 2016.
Our operations adhere to strict safety guidelines at all times of the day.
Why is this facility needed?
The West Gate Tunnel Project is a major infrastructure project that is intended to provide a much-needed alternative to the West Gate Bridge. As a result of the tunnel excavation work, there is a large amount of soil that needs to be safely disposed of. Some of the soil may contain low levels of PFAS, a group of man-made chemicals commonly found in former industrial areas.
Where is it located?
The proposed facility will be located within the existing Sunbury Eco-Hub, some 30 kilometres north-west of Melbourne. It is approximately five kilometres from the Sunbury town centre and more than two kilometres from the nearest residential community.
What does the expansion involve?
Hi-Quality is proposing an expansion to its existing Sunbury Eco-Hub. The proposed project involves the collection, assessment and treatment of waste soil from the West Gate Tunnel Project. It will be integrated into the site’s 24 hours, seven days a week operation.
As part of the project, Hi-Quality is proposing to build 50-60 specially engineered and constructed containment bays made of high-strength hardstand with a leach-proof lining. These bays are designed in-line with the Victorian Government’s Best Practice Environmental Guidelines (BPEM) and have been developed with oversight from EPA Victoria. The soil from the West Gate Tunnel Project will be transported in specially covered and sealed trucks to the bays where it will be held for assessment and testing.
The soil will be the consistency of sludge when it arrives at the site. Once it is tested, the water will be drained off and treated through a water treatment plant at the Hi-Quality site, resulting in water that is within Australian Drinking Water Guideline levels. The treated soil will be classified and either held as landfill on site or reused to support future developments or other projects.
The entire process will be engineered to control dust at every stage. Hi-Quality Group has undertaken detailed environmental impact reviews, which showed storage and reuse of the soil will not cause any unacceptable impact or leave any detrimental environmental legacy, either on site or to the local community.
When will work begin?
If the plan is approved, construction is likely to begin this year. The first truckloads of soil from the West Gate Tunnel Project would arrive several months later. The temporary facility is expected to operate for 18 to 24 months.
Why the Hi-Quality site?
Hi-Quality Group’s Sunbury Eco-Hub is the most suitable and best-equipped site in Victoria to take the material from the West Gate Tunnel Project. It has been used for recycling, landfill and soil processing of contaminated and non-contaminated products for more than 20 years, and it is identified as a hub of state significance waste and resource recovery. Due to its remote location and extensive land holding, the proposed facility will be situated well away from residential communities and development, ensuring minimal impact to Sunbury residents.
Is Hi-Quality the large tip that can be seen from Sunbury Road?
Hi-Quality Group has no connection with the Bulla Tip and Quarry (BTQ) site which is visible from Sunbury Road. Hi-Quality’s Sunbury Eco-Hub is located approximately 1.4 kilometres to the north east of BTQ, and its operations are out of sight from Sunbury Road.
Is the treatment and disposal safe?
Hi-Quality’s state-of-the-art facilities offer a safe and sustainable solution for the treatment of contaminated soils and other waste material, in line with strict environmental and planning controls.
Hi-Quality has undertaken robust and comprehensive checks throughout this project, including environmental analysis, noise and traffic assessments, culture and heritage reviews and a bushfire management report. All of these assessments showed limited impact to surrounding areas.
Our proposed containment bays are a BPEM compliant design, and the proposed project will only go ahead with the State Government approval and the oversight and ongoing monitoring of EPA Victoria.
What is PFAS?
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS, are a group of man-made chemicals which have been widely used in a range of everyday applications since the 1940s. All of us are exposed to small amounts of PFAS every day in dust, air, food, water and contact with consumer products containing these chemicals.
The Australian Government’s Expert Health Panel for PFAS has found there is currently no evidence that PFAS has a significant impact on human health. Low levels of PFAS in soil are not harmful to the public during soil removal, relocation or disposal. Levels of PFAS is expected to be found during tunneling on the West Gate Tunnel Project. You can find out more here.
COMMUNITY IMPACT & BENEFITS
Will this proposal provide local jobs?
Hi-Quality Group has been a pillar and major employer in the Sunbury community since 2003. We currently employ 55 full-time staff members and 6 contractors, the vast majority of which are Sunbury residents.
Our proposed facility is expected to generate up to 200 additional jobs in the construction phase and provide continued employment. The WGTP is an important part of the Victorian Government’s ‘Big Build’ agenda, and our proposal is critical in its progression.
Hi-Quality’s site is also included in the Sunbury South Precinct Structure Plan which envisions the development of new communities, including schools and a railway station, over the long term. In total, the Sunbury South and Lancefield Road precinct structure plans will allow for 6,000 jobs in the wider Sunbury area.
How will the works impact me?
The proposed facility will be situated well away from residential communities to ensure minimal impact to Sunbury residents. However, depending on where you live or work, you may notice some construction noise while the facility is being built. There will also be an increase in the volume of trucks travelling to and from the site on Sunbury Road, via an approved truck route.
As the project will operate 24/7, there is a recommendation for traffic lights to be installed at the turn-off to the Hi-Quality site to ensure the safety of all road users. EPA Victoria will have oversight of the project every step of the way.
What mitigation measures will be in place to reduce potential hazards?
The facility will use a safe and proven technique to remove PFAS from the soil within an acceptable range as approved by EPA Victoria. Hi-Quality will use specially constructed soil containment bays to control seepage to the underlying groundwater. The bays will capture any surface run-off, preventing it from entering waterways.
While the risk of airborne dust is considered low, measures will be taken to control dust at all times. The surface water runoff from the storage area will be captured in sealed drains and holding ponds, where it will then be treated at a water treatment plant.
Hi-Quality has undertaken detailed environmental impact reviews, which showed storage and reuse of the soil will not cause any unacceptable impact or leave any detrimental environmental legacy, either on site or to the local community.
How will potential impacts such as odours and noise be managed?
A detailed environmental assessment has concluded the risk of odour from the contaminated material is low. Nevertheless, the facility will be audited to ensure there is no offensive odour at the boundary of the site.
Depending on your location, you may notice some construction noise. The site will be audited to ensure noise levels and air quality are kept within acceptable standards.
How will Sunbury Road be improved to manage the changes in traffic movements?
Hi-Quality has undertaken a traffic engineering assessment and subsequently recommended that traffic lights be installed at the turn-off to the Hi-Quality site at 570 Sunbury Road to improve traffic safety.
It has also recommended reducing the speed limit on Sunbury Road between Francis Boulevard and Bulla-Diggers Rest Road to 80 km/h. This is in line with the anticipated future speed limit for this section of Sunbury Road.
Major Road Projects Victoria is undertaking an upgrade of Sunbury Road which will add an extra lane in each direction between Powlett Street and Bulla-Diggers Rest Road. The upgrade will also install safety barriers and review speed limits to lower the risk and severity of road accidents. The upgrade will improve traffic flow and travel times, and accommodate future growth along Sunbury Road.
More information on the Sunbury Road Upgrade
Hi-Quality Group is an Australian-owned, family run business with 55 years of experience adopting and promoting sustainable best practice initiatives in quarrying, recycling and waste management. As a Hub of State Significance No. 12, we are a world-class waste-management facility, with experience handling contaminated and non-contaminated waste safely and securely in Sunbury since 2003.
We welcome feedback and enquiries.