Willawong Hazardous Waste Treatment Plant

Stage Number: MBSH.05.07.03

Group: Western

Local Study Area: Durack- Doolandella-Willawong-Pallara-Larapinta

Epoch: Late 20th Century

Street Address: Sherbrook Road, Willawong

Latitude & Longitude: -27.602,152.99983333

Time Link: 1948

Map Link: 1951

Image Time Point: 1951

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Hazardous materials were reportedly buried at Willawong during World War II. A Brisbane City Council sanitary dump was established there in 1948, when much of Brisbane was still using outhouses with a ‘nightman’ collection. Willawong received hazardous wastes such as pesticides, paints, solvents, fats and oils for the next 45 years. An Act of Parliament required BCC to keep the dump open to accept hazardous wastes from south east Queensland. A 1982 Commonwealth government inquiry found that ‘…hazardous leachate will continue to enter the surrounding waterways and groundwater even if the site were closed… much of the waste would remain toxic for several hundred years.’ The Willawong toxic waste dump was once one of the most contaminated sites in Australia, second only to the site of the Sydney Olympics. The dump was shut down by the State Government in 1998 after agitation by nearby residents and the city council. About $60 million has been spent on remediation works and in 2008 the city council opened a bus depot there. However, a 2014 article claimed that ‘An independent report found 20,000 litres of contaminants from the site are leaching into the water table every month. They find their way to Oxley Creek…’


Richlands, Inala and Suburbs History Group, ‘Pallara’ (http://rihghistory.org.au/our-suburbs/pallara), sighted 24 July 2017.

Image Citations

Map References

Qimagery. Greater Brisbane Area 1951. Scale: 1:16,000.