A SECTION of the Ararat Cemetery has been blocked off following the attendance of a WorkSafe Victoria inspector on February 6.
The inspector was called in by a cemetery employee to inspect a part of the site which may contain contaminated soil.
Ararat Cemetery Trust chair Bill Jones said it was unclear at this stage whether it was contaminated or not.
"There is a suspicion by some that there is a small patch of contaminated soil," he said.
"There's been the suggestion made that a larger area of the site is contaminated but it's only a suggestion.
"There's no evidence at this stage either way. The area has been cordoned off for precautionary reasons."
Following the inspection, WorkSafe issued an Improvement Notice, and the Trust engaged the services of a company to test the soil.
The testing will take place sometime late next week.
"They will have a look at the two sites which are now in question and we will wait until we get a response from them as to any decisions about where we might go next," Mr Jones said.
"There could be a whole lot of reasons for some sort of contamination on a cemetery site.
"In the past, plastic flowers may have been picked up and thrown in a heap of rubbish and burned on the site. That's not something we do these days - we separate the plastic flowers out and they are disposed of."
Another possibility, according to the Improvement Notice, was that some of the soil on the site had been transported there from an old gasworks site in Ararat which no longer exists.
"We don't have any evidence of that at all," Mr Jones said.
"There are places around the outskirts of the town where material from the gasworks was dumped - it could have been up to half a century ago or more, and grass doesn't grow on those sites.
"One small section of the cemetery looks vaguely like that but I think we jump to a big conclusion if we say that's what's happened. I wouldn't like to be alarming anybody by doing that because I don't think that's fair.
"We want people to continue using the cemetery but we want them to use it safely."
Mr Jones said that until the results are confirmed, the area of the cemetery that is being tested will remain cordoned off.
A WorkSafe spokeswoman said "WorkSafe is aware of it and making inquiries."
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox each Friday morning from The Ararat Advertiser. To make sure you're up-to-date with all the news from across the Ararat shire, sign up here.