Disaster wastemanagement following the 2009 Victorian bushfires
The 2009 Black Saturday Bushfires in Victoria, Australia, killed 173 people and affected 430,000 hectares of land. Before communities could begin to rebuild, tonnes of burnt and potentially hazardous debris had to be removed. Although largely unprepared for a disaster of this scale, there was a collective response to move with urgency towards a common goal: to remove public health hazards and to get communities into the rebuilding process as quickly as possible. Five key decisions were made during the clean-up process: the establishment of the (Victorian Bushfire Recovery and Reconstruction Authority); full government funding for building demolition; the single waste classification; the appointment of a single contract and the construction of a new landfill cell. For each key decision the following are analysed: the decision-making process: delays: organisational considerations: legal implications; and environmental, economic and social effects. Overall the demolition and debris removal response was successful, however, authorities need to plan for their response in future events, which may require an entirely different response. Planning is necessary to give decision-makers the tools and information necessary to make timely, effective and coordinated decisions after any given event.