The West Gate Tunnel Project is a vital project for Victoria. It will provide an alternative to the West Gate Bridge, take thousands of trucks off residential streets in the inner west and create 6000 jobs.

To build the West Gate Tunnel approximately 1.5 million cubic meters of rock and soil will need to be removed.

Digging up this amount of soil to build the West Gate Tunnels will be a 24/7 operation at our Northern Portal site in Yarraville. Testing shows the levels of PFAS expected to be found during tunnel boring are low and at safe levels for the community and the environment. Groundwater testing along the tunnel alignment shows PFAS levels of between zero and 0.7 micrograms per litre or less, which is between detectable limits and much less than water that is safe to swim in.

Work has now started on a purpose-built facility at Hi-Quality's Bulla Spoil Processing Facility that will manage and dispose of soil excavated by the tunnel boring machines on the West Gate Tunnel Project.

Hi-Quality’s site was recommended by CPB John Holland Joint Venture, Transurban’s builder, following a comprehensive assessment of the technical specifications and environmental protection capabilities of three potential sites in outer Melbourne.

To enable tunnel boring to get underway as soon as possible, Transurban will advance funding so construction can commence at Hi-Quality facility, which is expected to generate up to an additional 200 jobs and take around six and a half months subject to weather conditions.

How tunnel rock and soil gets out of the ground

As our tunnel boring machines (TBMs) dig underground, excavated soil is moved via a 15km covered conveyor system that crosses high above Somerville Road to our purpose-built shed located on Whitehall Street, Yarraville.

It is then placed in storage areas, before excavators load it into covered and lined trucks for safe and secure transport to a disposal facility.

All relevant EPA Victoria and WorkSafe Victoria requirements will be met every step of the way to protect the community and workers from the moment the soil is dug up to when it’s transported and disposed of appropriately.

Safely managing any soil

Testing shows the levels of PFAS in the groundwater from soil extracted by the tunnel boring machines is expected to be low and at safe levels for the community and the environment.

Testing also indicates levels of PFAS between zero and 0.7 micrograms per litre – which is between detectable limits and water that is safe to swim in.

Despite these findings, the Victorian Government has a strong track record of taking a conservative, safety focused approach to the management of PFAS. When managing soil, our first priority is to make sure protections are in place for the community and workers in line with EPA and WorkSafe requirements.

Safely transporting soil

The trucks that will take tunnel soil away from West Gate Tunnel Project worksites will be sealed and fully covered so there is no dust or soil dropped on the road.

Other safety measures will include hosing down the truck and its wheels before it leaves site, and fully loading the truck in an enclosed shed.

Drivers are fully trained and GPS technology in the trucks will allow monitoring to ensure truck routes are adhered to.

All trucks must meet EPA requirements, are fully assessed for roadworthiness and compliance with noise and emission limits and will follow approved truck routes to get to the disposal site.

Where does the soil go?

Fully covered and sealed trucks will transport the soil from the construction sites to Hi-Quality's Bulla Spoil Processing Facility.