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Australia Rail yard turned toxic waste dump could force ghost trains to Geelong

14:40  18 february  2020
14:40  18 february  2020 Source:   theage.com.au

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Disruptions to the Wyndham Vale rail yard to turn it into a dump site for the West Gate Tunnel's toxic soil could force V/Line to run ghost trains to Geelong The Age has revealed a controversial state government proposal to dump the toll road's soil — contaminated with potential carcinogens PFAS

The nearest suitable rail yard turned out to be in Parrish. The cars came, and “kept coming and coming and coming,” Hall said. At one point, there were 252 containers filled with waste at the railway yard . That has since been reduced to 150, but it might take weeks to get rid of all of them.

a view of a beach: The Wyndham Vale rail stabling yard now under construction is just north of housing estates.© Joe Armao The Wyndham Vale rail stabling yard now under construction is just north of housing estates.

Plans to covert the Wyndham Vale rail yard into a dump site for the West Gate Tunnel's toxic soil could force V/Line to run ghost trains to Geelong, if they cannot be parked safely overnight.

Rail workers say they will not set foot on the train stabling facility in Melbourne's west if it becomes a dangerous dump site for the road project's waste, potentially leading to mass train cancellations on the strained V/Line network.

The Age has revealed a controversial state government proposal to dump the toll road's soil — contaminated with potential carcinogens PFAS and asbestos — at a Wyndham Vale rail yard, just metres away from housing and four planned schools.

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Several toxic waste dumping sites have also been flooded - some of which contain dioxins and other long-lasting toxins linked to birth defects and cancer. Around a third of Texas' 41 highly toxic waste dumping sites are now flooded - sparking fears that dangerous toxins could leach into floodwaters.

Toxic waste dump noun – A location where toxic wastes can be or have been disposed of (often illegally). In some cases you can use "Wasteyard" instead a noun phrase " Toxic waste dump ".

The government has said it plans to use the 82-hectare government-owned site in Treasurer Tim Pallas' Werribee electorate as a "back-up, temporary" dumping ground, but the move has triggered a fierce backlash among local residents.

The West Gate Tunnel builders have threatened to leave the project over an impasse with Transurban and the state government on how to deal with PFAS soil. The builders are expected to release tender documents for the dumping of 2.3 million tonnes of soil by the end of this week.

a close up of a rock: The Wyndham Vale rail stabling yard now under construction.© Joe Armao The Wyndham Vale rail stabling yard now under construction.

The Wyndham Vale rail yard is being built to replace the Footscray train stabling site which is being removed as part of the $6.7 billion West Gate Tunnel works.

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The enormous dump is a primary source of income for many laborers, who pick through mountains of discarded electronics and melt them down for metals such as iron and brass. The pollutants have also been detected in breast milk, meaning that the toxins are being passed on to the workers' children.

i know that your just trying to survive lie, steal, cheat, kill, anything just to stay alive but your looking at the world through everyone elses eyes. and you know these trains they roll by all night i once heard a story of a train that could fly when this lonely night is over you will find.

But operations at the new $180 million rail yard, which is set to open within months, could face serious challenges, with the Rail, Tram and Bus Union warning that members would not enter a site that puts their health at risk.

"If this is confirmed, and it's dangerous to our members, it would be irresponsible for V/Line to expect our people to work there," head of the locomotive division Marc Marotta said. "We just won't go in there if it poses any danger."

In a letter sent to the state government on Monday night, the union's secretary Luba Grigorovitch said plans to use the facility as a dumping ground were "completely unacceptable".

She demanded confirmation that the soil would not contaminate air conditioning systems on the Geelong to Melbourne trains, which are stored at the Wyndham Vale site.

A disruption to the Wyndham Vale rail yard would have significant consequences for the network, according to internal V/Line documents obtained under freedom of information laws.

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In Weldon Spring, Missouri, there is a strange, grey, windblasted seven-storey pile of rocks. It's the Weldon Spring Site: a nuclear and toxic waste dump on

No you can not dump hazardous waste into the ocean because many animals live there and if you dump waste into the ocean the water will get polluted Yes - by law all trains in the UK cannot dump any toilet waste onto the tracks anymore, they have to go into holding tanks that get emptied at the

The rail yard was needed to avoid mass V/Line train cancellations, bus replacement services and higher operational costs, leading to "irrevocable reputational damage", a V/Line briefing warned.

Documents obtained by the Victorian opposition show the rail yard was needed to run a greater number of services on the network and to operate new trains reliably.

The need for the rail yard became urgent after the removal of the Footscray stabling site to make way for the West Gate Tunnel in October last year.

To keep trains out of overcrowded stabling sites and create more storage space, V/Line planned to "over-service the network" by running empty six-car trains to Geelong, significantly ramping up operational costs and increasing the maintenance task.

But even after the Wyndham Vale stabling yard is built, this would not be enough to meet the needs of the growing network, V/Line warned.

"This has seen V/Line’s ability to deliver its fleet maintenance program slowly erode.

"The lack of maintenance infrastructure will continue to impact on performance ... These shortages will impact V/Line’s reliability."

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Opposition transport infrastructure spokesman David Davis said any impact on the rail yard's operations would be disastrous for V/Line and potential stabling for Metro's trains planned for the site.

"If this rail yard is effectively ruled out of action, it would be a body blow to the V/Line system and ultimately planned Metro stabling too.

"The Andrews Labor government's chaotic transport planning couldn't have been more sharply highlighted than placing a stabling and wash area for V/Line trains on the same land as a toxic dump. "

He said rail workers were asking "legitimate questions about their safety" in the wake of the news.

A Department of Transport spokeswoman said dumping the soil on the Wyndham Vale site would not limit the operations of the stabling facility.

"While a decision on where to temporarily hold soil from tunnelling for the West Gate Tunnel is yet to be made, the land in question is outside the Wyndham Vale stabling facility so if the site was ever used it would not impact the timing or operations of the new stabling facility.”

A government spokeswoman said the rail yard was not being considered as a permanent landfill for the road project's soil.

"If Wyndham Vale was a temporary site it would not disrupt rail operations," she said.

A housing boom in Melbourne's western suburbs and the opening of the Regional Rail Link in 2015 has put increasing pressure on the Geelong line, with patronage more than doubling in the past five years.

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