EPA increasing scrutiny of waste transportation offences

Complete custodial sentences for waste transport offences are looming in New South Wales, according to legal experts

April 23, 2013

Complete custodial sentences for waste transport offences are looming in New South Wales, according to legal experts.

The observation comes in the wake of a contempt of court finding against Dib Hanna, the owner of a waste transport business sometimes known as DH Tipper Hire, regarding the illegal transport and disposal of waste, including asbestos.

Hanna was found to have breached a Land and Environment Court order that he not transport building or excavation waste to any place for which no development consent under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act or environment protection licence under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act is held.

Evidence was given that, despite the court order, almost 80 tonnes of waste, including asbestos, had been dumped at a property and that this had occurred without the consent of the property-owner, who was then forced to spend $13,200 for its removal.

Hanna had eight prior convictions and fines for illegally transporting waste to a place that could not lawfully receive that waste, along with 22 related penalty infringement notices, mostly from Sydney councils, all of which he had failed to pay.

Despite this, Hanna’s three-month jail term was suspended in favour of a good behaviour bond and payment of Environment Protection Authority (EPA) legal costs.

However, Norton Rose lawyers Jacinta Studdert and Gavin Shapiro say the fact that a custodial sentence considered in the judge’s decision was a pointer to a harder line.

"This case demonstrates the increasing scrutiny that the EPA is placing on waste, and waste transportation, and the seriousness that the court places on such offences, particularly where asbestos is involved," the lawyers say.

They add that the case "serves as an important reminder that breaching environmental laws, particularly as they relate to waste, waste transportation and disposal, is a criminal offence, and can be punished as such.

"It also demonstrates the importance of carefully considering the nature of the waste, including whether it might contain asbestos and ensuring the appropriate and lawful disposal of that waste."

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