EPA Victoria has published a tool that will help local government identify the risks of closed landfills to better inform land use planning decisions.

The Local Council Self-Assessment Tool for Closed Landfill Environmental Risk enables councils to conduct closed landfill environmental risk assessments in their municipalities and was developed following the Victorian Auditor-General Office's (VAGO) review of the management of landfills by councils and EPA.

One of VAGO's recommendations in its 2014 report was that: "Councils work with the Environment Protection Authority and the regional waste and resource recovery groups (WRRGs) to identify closed landfills, assess their risks and prioritise actions at a regional scale to address these".

The self-assessment tool will help councils fulfil their legislative obligations to manage closed landfills. It was developed by the Loddon Mallee Waste and Resource Recovery Group and EPA North West.

How it works

The tool is designed as a simple desktop assessment. A site can be assessed in as little as an hour, with the results providing a snapshot of the possible risk that a closed landfill may have on the wider environment. It has been trialled by both regional and metropolitan councils in Victoria.

The tool allows councils to identify the levels of risk - high, medium or low - associated with each site within their municipality. They can work with EPA, if necessary, to address any issues.

The tool is a user-friendly, easy method of providing a basic assessment of the level of risk to public health and the environment from closed landfills. It is designed for assessing closed landfills that don't currently have regulatory instruments on them, e.g. Post Closure Pollution Abatement Notice (PCPAN) or other regulatory tools.

The EPA strongly suggested that councils take photos throughout each assessment, as these will be useful during further assessments and assist EPA to provide advice.

Local councils are under no obligation to use the tool and can choose to engage environmental consultants to assess risk.