The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning will begin exploratory works along the dunes of Port Fairy's East Beach next week to gauge the scale of the landfill site buried underneath the sand.
Substantial erosion along East Beach started exposing waste from the former tip more than a decade ago, with the state government and Moyne Shire exploring several different options to address the issue.
Previous estimates suggested extracting the waste would cost at least $30 million, but without a better idea of how much rubbish is hidden in the dunes it is impossible to know.
DELWP said the exploratory works would involve drilling down into the dunes at various points along the beach and taking samples to work out the depth and extent of the site.
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Once engineers had worked out how much waste was buried, they could then determine whether removal of some or all of the rubbish was a feasible long-term option. Alternatives such as extending the existing sea wall were also being considered, as well as effects on plover nesting sites.
"Coastal erosion has previously exposed waste at landfills and with storms and sea level rise, there is potential for further exposures," Moyne Shire mayor Ian Smith said.
DELWP regional manager Gavan Mathieson said works were scheduled to finish sometime in May.
"(T)he community will see drilling equipment and vehicles moving around, and we ask everyone to follow all signage and traffic management for their safety," he said.
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