toxic waste
Factory fire in Campbellfield, Melbourne. (Image: AAP/Ellen Smith)

"Waste crime" has become big business. The rapid decline of Melbourne’s traditional manufacturing industry has spawned a dangerous new enterprise: the dumping of vast quantities of chemical waste inside empty warehouses and factories across the city’s west and north, hidden from the prying eyes of regulators. Many of these warehouses fail to meet even the most basic of safety standards.

The vast chemical stockpiles scattered across Melbourne's northern suburbs may never have come to light but for investigations into Graham Leslie White -- the jailed businessman linked with the illegal stockpiling of close to 20 million litres of toxic waste -- and his tenancy of a warehouse that erupted into a inferno in Tottenham in the city's west last August. The Tottenham site has been called "a danger to life" with a history of safety breaches.