EPAs take offending waste transporters to task


Illegal landfills and asbestos dumping top the list of transgressions

EPAs take offending waste transporters to task
EPA image of the Lara site clean-up

 

Environmental protection agencies (EPAs) have been kept busy by waste transport cases across multiple states, with operators warned of the consequences of unlawful activity.

In South Australia, the EPA closed an unlicensed landfill in the Murraylands, containing thousands of tonnes of construction and demolition waste, and is probing transporters involved with that site.

"We are continuing to investigate and assess the sites, and have identified a number of waste transport companies that have been using them to dispose of waste," EPA SA director regulation Peter Dolan says.

ABC reports the number reaches a dozen firms, with 120 trucks observed entering and leaving the site.

Dolan gives much of the SA industry a tick but notes a few operators try to avoid regulatory oversight and save money on dumping fees.

"We are warning both landholders and waste transporters to be aware of their responsibilities, as both can face serious penalties," he adds, pointing to fines of up to $250,000 and possible imprisonment.

"If you’re a waste transporter, it’s not enough to say you didn’t know the site wasn’t licensed.

"If you haven’t personally sighted documentation including the EPA licence, council approval and the landowner’s consent, then you’re putting yourself and your business at risk.

"Make no mistake, we will seek criminal convictions and substantial fines for people operating unlicensed landfills, and those transporters who have brought material to these sites."

The EPA SA notes it recently disqualified a demolition contractor’s transport licence for three years after he was found not to be a fit and proper.


How a company was fined after an asbestos crash spill, here


Meanwhile in NSW, a Sydney truck driver was witnessed illegally dumping 3.6 tonnes of waste containing asbestos in south-west Sydney’s Clemton Park, leading to a prosecution by the EPA and a $50,000 penalty.

Charles Mokbel was accused of demolishing a burned down shed containing asbestos at a house in Belmore Park On March 7, 2018.

He loaded the waste into a tipper truck without covering the load and dumped the waste onto the road close to homes.

He pleaded guilty and was sentenced recently at Burwood Local Court, which noted Mokbel knew dumping the waste was unlawful and he was trying to avoid disposal costs.

He was fined $27,200 and ordered to pay costs of almost $23,000.

"This prosecution and conviction sends a clear message – if you think you can get away with illegal dumping, think again," NSW EPA director waste compliance Greg Sheehy says.

NSW EPA’s action extends to fining a Western Sydney waste transporter $7,500 during a multi-agency truck compliance operation for allegedly unlawfully transporting waste in the southern highlands in March this year.

"Our officers observed the driver enter a rural-residential property in the Glenquarry area and begin to unload contaminated waste from his trailer which included soil, brick, glass and fragments of asbestos," EPA executive director waste operations Carmen Dwyer says.

"Officers immediately stopped the driver to prevent him disposing of any more of the contaminated material from the truck.

"The driver then reloaded the truck and was directed to a lawful facility to dispose of the waste correctly."

In Victoria, the discharge of waste water contaminated with a corrosive industrial chemical cost fleet-owning Omega Chemicals and its director Leslie Chaim Fried $55,500.

Both parties pleaded guilty in the Sunshine Magistrate’s Court to causing an environmental hazard, permitting the deposit of industrial waste to an unlicensed site and pollution of waters when water contaminated with sodium metabisulphite flowed into Kayes Drain.

The Victorian agency notes it has also started cleaning up a large stockpile of waste at Broderick Rd, Lara, with truckloads of contaminated soil departing the site.

The operation to clean up 320,000 cubic metres of waste will take up to three years to complete, EPA notes, highlighting the extent of the undertaking.

 

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