Melbourne Warehouse on Fire

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

About 175 firefighters are battling a massive fire at a factory in Melbourne's north where buildings and vehicles have been turned into fireballs and chemical drums sent soaring high above the inferno.

A huge toxic pall of thick, black smoke is billowing from the factory in Thornycroft Street, Campbellfield, and drifting over Melbourne's CBD.

The company that operates from the buildings had its licence to process toxic chemical waste suspended two weeks ago.

Details are starting to emerge about the state of the Campbellfield chemical waste disposal facility when it was inspected by a taskforce comprising the EPA and emergency services in early March.

Sources say the surprise inspection on March 13 found leaking containers and spilled chemicals on the factory floor. The breaches have been described as "extremely alarming" given that employees were onsite and working near the contamination.

The EPA issued a "show cause" notice to Bradbury about its permit breaches and then suspended its licence when Bradbury failed to meet its demands.

“The community has a right to expect that the management of hazardous and industrial waste is done to a high standard that meets regulations. This was not the case with Bradbury and is why EPA has taken this important decision," EPA chief executive Dr Cathy Wilkinson said in a statement at the time.

The EPA found the company was storing more waste than permitted, and that storage containers were not adequately handled and were outside an adequately contained area.

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