A blitz on industrial sites to ensure dangerous chemicals are being stored correctly will target Melbourne's inner west in the wake of a massive fire that tore through a factory in West Footscray last week.
The move comes amid increasing anger among residents about potential health effects from the recent fire and a commitment from the state government to review authorities' response to the incident.
The huge blaze caused thick, black, toxic smoke to billow across the western suburbs on Thursday, and was described by authorities as one of the biggest infernos the city has seen in decades.
Firefighters battled for 17 hours to bring the blaze under control as schools were closed and resident were ordered to stay indoors.
Dead fish, eels and other marine life have washed up on the banks of a Melbourne waterways after toxic chemicals and firefighting foam entered the creek while crews worked to extinguish a factory fire in the city's west.
Police have since taken over the investigation into the fire after firefighters uncovered “sufficient evidence” to indicate the blaze may be suspicious.
WorkSafe, the Environmental Protection Authority and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade announced on Monday that they will this week conduct a targeted blitz to ensure site occupiers are complying with regulations about the labelling, storage and handling of chemicals, and have the correct emergency controls and safety equipment in place.
Those found to be not complying with regulations will be slapped with enforcement notices.
The inspections will be in the area around the factory fire and industrial areas in Footscray and nearby suburbs including Braybrook.
The EPA’s said it would focus on ensuring appropriate bunding was in place for chemicals, fuels and other hazardous liquids, as well as checking storm water controls and sites that were storing combustible recyclable waste material.
“This is a joint effort," EPA's incoming chief executive Dr Cathy Wilkinson said.
"The regulatory authorities will work very closely together on this blitz which will not only check the sites around the fire area, but send a very clear message to all industry that compliance is a safety matter that is taken extremely seriously.
She warned businesses that those who were found to be in breach could face fines or even legal action "if they fail in their obligations".
Earlier this year, the state government announced a joint taskforce to audit the recycling industry in a bid to quell community anger over the most recent fire at the SKM Recycling plant.
The fire broke out at the recycling plant in Coolaroo on July 13 and burned for 11 days.
Toxic smoke shrouded the city centre forcing people out of their homes.
Melissa Cunningham reports breaking news for The Age.