Insurance will pick up the clean-up cost of a massive blaze that sent toxic smoke across Melbourne CBD in July, the operator of a fire-ravaged recycling plant has confirmed.
The SKM Recycling plant in Maffra Street, Coolaroo, was engulfed in flames from July 13 to 27, forcing hundreds of people living in the vicinity to evacuate due to acrid smoke and ash. A number of people were also hospitalised and continue to suffer health concerns.
"The polluter pays, so SKM will be paying for this. But the taxpayer is not – that's the important message," Environment Protection Authority (EPA) CEO Nial Finegan told ABC Radio
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The EPA boss said site owner SKM Recycling covered the cost of moving about 20,000 tonnes of fire-damaged plastics and other recyclables from the plant to the landfill because they are no longer useable.
SKM said it was always going to take responsibility for the clean-up cost, which is covered by insurance.
"There is nothing new about that; there was never any other situation," a company spokesman told AAP
. "The EPA CEO was just confirming what has always been the position and he just wanted to make it clear that taxpayers wouldn't be paying."
A class action has been filed against the company in the Victorian Supreme Court in July on behalf of some 100 affected residents, the report said.
"It is just something that will proceed in the background until things become a bit clearer," the SKM spokesman said.
The task force investigating the fire has not yet released its findings regarding the incident, with Finegan saying it would "take a long time to do because we're doing it in a very proper way," AAP
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