Defence Site Maribyrnong, Dstg Precinct

Project Details

Project NameDefence Site Maribyrnong, Dstg Precinct
Project LocationDefence Site Maribyrnong, 150 Cordite Avenue, Maribyrnong VIC 3032
DivisionDefence Division
End userDepartment of Defence
ClientGolder Associates
OPEC project managerGeoff Rowland
Year completedNovember 2017- December 2019

Project Description

OPEC provides logistics, decontamination, medical and operational support to the primary contractor, Golder Associates and the Edgewood Chemical and Biological Centre (ECBC), a US Government Agency, to assess the buildings and grounds of the former DSTG Precinct at Defence Site Maribyrnong for contamination by chemical warfare agents (CWA) and toxic industrial chemicals.

OPEC Scope

Support to Project Planning and Project Management.

Integrated Logistics Support to a combined project team of around 30 staff.

Warehousing and maintenance of a fleet of specialist CWA investigation equipment on behalf of the Dept. of Defence.

Provision of CWA decontamination operators.

Design, installation and maintenance of project power distribution & electrical systems.

Installation of project CWA engineering controls.

Provision of Class A asbestos remediation services.

Provision of advanced scaffolding and heights access services.

Provision of specialist CWA preventative medical and first aid support services including a Doctor and Registered Nurse.

Provision of laboratory and gas chamber deconstruction/demolition services.

Provision of specialist civil excavation services to allow the excavation of suspected CWA burials sites.

Provision of vegetation reduction services. Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) services to support Emergency Response and chance find procedures.

Challenges / solutions

Adapting power systems to integrate with US Army equipment. 

OPEC designed power distribution systems which allowed US Army equipment to be operated from mains supply rather than US Army generators.  This saved thousands of litres of diesel, reduced noise impacts on stakeholders, protected the environment and improved reliability of supply.

Deconstruction of Laboratories and Gas Chambers with complex layers of contamination.

OPEC installed and maintained engineering controls which maintained a negative air pressure on all laboratories and gas chambers that were investigated.  This process improved operator safety, mitigated risks to the public in the surrounding area and increased productivity.  These engineering controls were designed to address the risk from CWA and friable asbestos and were approved by third party auditors at state and federal level.  OPEC provided specialist operators that were qualified to operate plant and equipment in both CWA and friable asbestos environments.  This included plant, crane, telehandler and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) operators working in Self Contained Breathing Apparatus.  OPEC’s CWA operations trained technicians, plumbers, scaffolders and carpenters trained in friable asbestos removal delivered these works ahead of schedule and under budget.

Excavation of Suspect CWA Burial Pits to enable Investigation maximum depth of 15m below ground level.

OPEC provided specialist civil teams to excavate CWA burial pits.  The excavation foot print encompassed areas filled with unrecorded services (gas, water, sewer) discarded WWII gas mask components, friable asbestos, laboratory waste and legacy chemical warfare materials.  The works were completed successfully by developing an detailed excavation plan, approved by geotechnical engineers.  The burial pits were then meticulously excavated by specialist plant operators trained to operate around CWA and other contaminants of concern.  Strict controls were established to ensure safety including; air monitoring, dust control, stockpile management, certified emergency response protocols, surveying and soil stability monitoring, asbestos controls, waste handling and classification, dewatering controls, sewerage system bypass installation, service detection isolation and removal.


OPEC designed, installed and maintained a semi-permanent power supply system which enabled US Army equipment to be operated using Australian 50Hz mains power supply.  This dramatically reduced project costs and environmental impacts, by reducing the use of site generators.  It also increased safety and productivity by providing reliable, uninterrupted power supply to critical project engineering controls and analytical laboratory equipment. OPEC designed a skid mounted extraction system to remove a 36 cubic metre, WWII vintage CWA gas chamber from beneath a severely deteriorated asbestos enclosure.  This innovation allowed the gas chamber to be quickly deconstructed without placing staff between the gas chamber and the fragile asbestos structure.