Statement on Melbourne Innovation Centre

Published on 15 December 2022

Darebin building

Darebin has published findings of an independent environmental consultant, confirming traces of asbestos dust at Melbourne Innovation Centre.

Darebin City Council has published the findings of an independent environmental consultant, which confirmed traces of asbestos dust at the site of the Melbourne Innovation Centre (MIC) in Alphington.

As the landowner Council head leases the site to the Melbourne Innovation Centre (MIC) who operate the site. MIC is the licensor for businesses on the site and has the responsibility under the head lease of providing licences to businesses to use the site and for management of businesses on the site.

As the landowner, Council announced on December 2 that it had required MIC to temporarily close two buildings on the site to allow for urgent deep cleaning and remediation works in two buildings on the site, given Council’s concern that the presence of asbestos dust in the buildings presented a health risk to site users. SLR Consulting Australia (SLR) was engaged by Council to conduct tests on surface dusts to check for asbestos content and to conduct background air monitoring and assess if there is any Asbestos Containing Dust (ACD) in the area.

SLR was also engaged to determine the extent of any potential removal works required on site. The environmental assessment was conducted on 23 November 2022.

CEO Peter Smith said that with the health and safety of tenants, visitors, contractors and staff at MIC being the number one priority, Darebin City Council immediately adopted SLR’s recommendations in full and is in the final stages of a deep clean and remediation program.

“Council moved quickly to immediately close Buildings 2 and 3 on the site to allow for testing and remediation works to be undertaken, which are nearly complete,” Mr Smith said.

“Like most buildings of this vintage, Council had identified the presence of asbestos containing material in its asbestos register maintained for all Council buildings. The potential for the deterioration of asbestos building materials in the MIC facilities remained. We have a well-established process to monitor, report and as necessary remediate and Council immediately informed the EPA and WorkSafe and will work with them to ensure Council meets its legal obligations.

“Council recognises this is a difficult time for tenants of MIC and users of the site, particularly at this time of year. While our immediate priority is making the site safe, we are also supporting the MIC and their impacted tenants on their requirements to continue their operations. Ultimately and as the landowner, we have a responsibility to support our tenant MIC in ensuring that the site is and remains a safe place to work and visit, and we thank the site users for their patience while we work with MIC to finalise the remediation works.”

The reports found that the two buildings under investigation at the site have asbestos roofs and walls which have in recent time begun shedding small amounts of dust. Council have provided additional support to MIC and their tenants by funding Class A cleaning contractors to clean items belonging to businesses so they can begin their operations again quickly from alternative locations.

Council has fully adopted the recommendations in the report, including that the area is barricaded, access restricted externally, and a management plan implemented. Council, as the owner of the land will be obliged to ensure the site is free of harm to human health before the site is reopened to the public.

Mr Smith said: “We’re absolutely committed to being open and transparent and have continued to keep tenants updated through the MIC. It was important to Council that we publish the report findings and ensure the tenants and the community have confidence in the process.”

The temporary partial closure at MIC only relates to the two buildings and there is no known impact on the surrounding sites or community. Access to other parts of the MIC has not been impacted by the works and the Melbourne Farmers Market continues to operate as normal.

The reports can be viewed here:

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