Major emergencies involving hazardous materials include large chemical fires in populated areas causing the release of toxic plumes, for example, a major hazard facility or waste management facility.

The loss-of-containment of materials that are in storage or being transported could also lead to a large explosion or release of toxic pollutants to the environment.

Examples of hazardous material incidents in Victoria include:

  • 2012 - Port of Portland 600T coal tar pitch spill
  • 2012 - Wangaratta Nuplex chemical incident caused by an uncontrolled chemical reaction in a reactor vessel
  • 2015 - Somerton tip fire occurred at a private refuse facility operated by Ecotec Solutions
  • 2017 - Coolaroo SKM recycling plant fire
  • 2019 - Campbellfield Bradbury Industrial Services hazardous waste storage facility fire

A parliamentary inquiry into recycling and waste management was established in March 2019 to inquire into the issue of the devastating industrial fires that have taken place as a result of the illegal or inappropriate stockpiling of dangerous chemicals.

All links in the table below will open in a new window.

Publish year Assurance activity Summary Organisation
2012 Quick Look Report Hazardous Materials Incident Nuplex Resins, December 2011 (External link) An assessment of a chemical plant incident that occurred in Wangaratta whereby surrounding households were evacuated, some relocating to relief centres. The assessment found that issuing of advice and warnings to the community was delayed, and bushfire warning templates were used instead of hazmat-specific templates. Office of the Emergency Services Commissioner
2012 Review of the Port of Portland Emergency (External link) A review focused on the effectiveness of the Victorian emergency management arrangements in providing a framework for the management of an emergency event involving liquid tar leakage from a 4000 tonne storage tank. Fire Services Commissioner Victoria
2012 Towards improved fire management in landfill sites: A review by I.R.S Services (External link) A study to identify common features between three landfill fires to consider when developing approaches to reduce the future incidences. A key finding was that fire suppression at landfill sites was costly and resource intensive for fire services and could be contained through improved prevention, planning and preparation for fire at the site. Fire Services Commissioner Victoria
2012 Operational Review: Yarra Valley Grammar School Fire January 30 2012 (External link) A review that assessed the response to a fire at a school in Ringwood to identify opportunities for improvement. The identified improvements supported the Victoria’s Fire Services reform program, improving the interoperability, resilience, capability and capacity of fire services and the services they provide to the community. Fire Services Commissioner Victoria
2016 Independent Inquiry into the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (External link) A comprehensive review of the EPA since commencement in 1971. Tasked with considering how best to protect public health and the environment for future generations and combine its role with economic sustainability and jobs growth, the inquiry examined EPA's role, powers, governance and funding, and tools. Parliament of Victoria
2016 Inquiry into the CFA Training College at Fiskville Final Report (External link) An inquiry into the CFA training College it provided studies of pollution, unsafe activities, health impacts and the role of past and present executive management, an assessment of the feasibility of decontamination/rectification of the training site and recommendations to mitigate ongoing harm and to provide justice to victims and their families. Parliament of Victoria
2016 Somerton Tip Fire: Operational Application of the Smoke Framework (External link) A review examining the operational application of the State Smoke Framework. It identified that future operational application can be assisted by improvements to agency procedures, better systems to monitor atmospheric data, training for EM personnel and multi-agency exercising. This review focused on incident tier arrangements during the first three days of the fire. Emergency Management Victoria
2017 Review of SKM Coolaroo Recycling Plant Fire (External link) A review of the response to Coolaroo fire examining the effectiveness of emergency management improvements introduced following the 2014 Hazelwood mine fire; improvements applied included rapid deployment of air quality monitoring to inform health advice for local community and making information available on the EPA website. Inspector-General for Emergency Management
2018 Improving Victoria’s Air Quality (External link) An audit assessing Victoria’s air quality against national standards that made findings on EPA’s ambient air quality monitoring, the effectiveness of EPA’s campaign and emergency monitoring stations, and reporting on air quality; it also covered the importance of ensuring accountabilities are understood and coordination is achieved across all government agencies that undertake functions that impact air quality, including DELWP. Victorian Auditor-General's Office
2019 Recovering and Reprocessing Resources from Waste (External link) An audit examining whether responsible agencies are providing strategic direction, support and effective regulation in order to maximise the recovery and reprocessing of resources from Victoria's waste streams. The report made 6 recommendations for responsible agencies, including DELWP and EPA. Victorian Auditor-General's Office