News & Media

Latrobe Community Update 17/3/14

By: Martha Johnson

Category: Community Safety

  2.13 PM 17 March, 2014

Location: District 9 News, District 10 News, District 11 News

Views: 4277

The latest community update for residents living in the Latrobe Valley has been released. This is the 11th community newsletter published since the beginning of the Hazelwood mine fire.

Community Information Newsletter Number 11 Hazelwood Mine Fire


The fire remains controlled. The slow systematic process of digging out hotspots and putting out the fire below the ground will continue for many weeks.



Hundreds of primary school children from Morwell had the opportunity to meet the firefighters working at the Hazelwood mine fire on Thursday 13 March.

Three water-bombing aircraft landed at Ronald Reserve, and were met by more than 700 students from St Vincent’s Primary School, Tobruk Street Primary School, Morwell Primary School, and Morwell Park Primary School. Fire trucks from Traralgon CFA and Fire and Rescue NSW were also present for the kids to have a look at.


Before you start make sure you are wearing:

  • Gloves
  • Long sleeved shirt & pants
  • Glasses or goggles to stop ash getting in your eyes
  • Facemask (if there is a lot of ash – you can get these for free from Latrobe City Council)

Wearing these will help reduce irritation to your skin, eyes and throat from ash and dust particles.

Practice good hygiene. Wash ash off your hands, face and neck as needed.

*      Keep babies and young children away from ash during any clean-up activities.

*      If you have an existing heart or lung condition, such as asthma, breathing in dust during cleaning-up could make that condition worse, so it’s best to get help to clean from family and friends and avoid the ash.

Tips for cleaning indoors:

Hard surfaces
Gently wipe hard surfaces with a soft cloth and mild soap.

Wash cooking utensils and ornaments in detergent and hot water. If you cannot put ornaments in water, wipe with a damp cloth.

Make sure children’s toys and play areas are clean.

Soft furnishings (bedding, cushions and clothes)

Hang soft furnishings outside in the sun, where possible.

Clothing can be washed according to directions on the tag. If you have had clothes on the line outside, rewashing should remove any smoky smell or ash.

To help remove the smoky smell – add a cap full of bleach* to your wash.

*        If you add bleach to your clothes wash, start the wash immediately to avoid damage to the clothes.


Avoid using a vacuum cleaner unless it has a special filter (called a HEPA filter) as you’ll just be blowing dust and ash back into the air.

HEPA vacuum cleaners are available for Morwell residents to borrow for FREE to help clean around the home.

If you are interested in borrowing one, you can get them at the following locations in Morwell:

-              Morwell Neighbourhood House

-              Pro Rent

-              Berry Street

-              Men’s Shed

-              Salvation Army

You may need to make a booking in advance as they are in high demand.

For more information contact Latrobe City Council on 1800 017 777.


Check your manufacturer’s instructions before cleaning the air-conditioner or evaporative cooling system. This equipment may need to be professionally cleaned.


Paths, driveways and decking

Sweep gently and then wash paths, driveways and decking, if possible. Avoid using leaf blowers as they just put the ash back into the air.

Herb, Fruit and Vegie Gardens

Always wash the food you grow before eating. If you don’t like the look or the taste of the food, it can be put in the compost bin.

Where can I put the ash?

Ash contains trace elements that can boost soil quality, so the ash can be safely dug into your garden soil or added to your compost bin.

Ash can also be put in a plastic bag or other container and placed in the usual household garbage bin.


Rain water tanks

If your tank water supply tastes, looks or smells unusual do not use it for drinking, bathing or for pets. It is still ok to use this water on the garden.

Contact your local council Environmental Health Officer or the Department of Health for more information.

Town water

Water quality within the Gippsland Water system is completely unaffected by the recent fire activity. Increased independent testing has shown no change in water quality throughout this event. Customers can have complete confidence in the water quality delivered to them by Gippsland Water.


 Take care while cleaning-up; make sure you follow some simple safety guidelines:

  • Avoid getting onto roofs if possible – falls from heights are a major risk.

It may be possible to clean the roof by hosing it down from on the ground or by using cleaning aid extensions that enable the work to be done from the ground.

If using a ladder

  • Make sure the ladder is stable and secure before climbing.
  • Do not use the ladder on soft or uneven ground.

If using electric powered tools (high pressure hoses)

Injury or death from electrocution is a risk.

  • Do not use water around electrical equipment such as switch boxes and power boards.
  • Any electrical tools used for cleaning must be in good working order and maintained.


EPA is taking regular water, soil and ash samples at 11 sites in and around Morwell to determine if there have been any impacts on the natural environment.

Testing to date has found there has been no impact on water quality or to local wetlands, rivers and streams from ash generated by the fire.

EPA will continue to test local soil and water in partnership with the state’s water catchment management authorities and the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) to detect any changes to soil and water quality if they occur.


  • Aircraft that water bombed the fire dropped on average 245,000 litres of water and 1,540 litres of foam per day.
  • Approximately 500 people per day were directly working on the incident.
  • More than 1,000 carbon monoxide tests on emergency services people are done each day.
  • A total of 411,264,000 litres of water have been pumped around the mine so far. That is around 84,000 litres per minute. None of this water has been discharged from the mine.
  • Over 300 accommodation bookings each day have been made in Morwell, Traralgon, Moe and Sale.
  • Staff working at the mine have been going through 1,500 meals per day. All produce for these has been sourced from local suppliers.
  • EPA monitor the air in Latrobe Valley 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Clean up & Recovery:
Latrobe City Council: 1800 017 777    

Air Quality: 
1300 372 842                                   

Nurse-on-Call on 1300 60 60 24         
24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the cost of a local call from anywhere in Victoria.

Human Services:
1800 006 468                                 

V/Lines 1800 800 007 6am-midnight
Latrobe Valley Bus Lines 03 5135 4700

Department of State Devlopment Business and Innovation 13 22 15
Latrobe City Council
Victoria Work Care Authority Advising Service (Worksafe) 1800 136 089   8:30am-5pm

Pets and Livestock:
DEPI 13 61 86                                      

Bushfire Information Line 1800 240 667    

Community Information & Recovery Centre: 
22 Hazelwood Rd, Morwell      1800 017 777
9am-6pm daily

Community Health Assessment Centre
Ambulance Victoria
2 Saskia Way, Morwell
8am-8pm daily

Last Updated: 18 March 2014