A Nagambie gold exploration company has dug up a $400,000 bill after agreeing to illegally store waste.
Nagambie Resources Ltd (Nagambie Resources) pleaded guilty in the Seymour Magistrates’ Court to two counts of accepting industrial waste without an EPA licence and was fined $20,000 and ordered to pay more than $10,000 in costs.
The court heard the company allowed electronic waste and spent bleaching earth (a by-product from producing vegetable oil) to be dumped on site during periods in 2014 and 2015.
When Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) officers attended the site in late 2016, they observed two stockpiles of soil that were 40m long, 8m wide and 3m high and leaching an oil substance.
A stockpile of black glass, plastic and circuitry boards measuring approximately 35m by 10m was also found, which Nagambie Resources had tried to bury.
The court heard the company were paid $54,322.84 for taking 16 truckloads of e-waste material totalling almost 380 tonnes.
The company has already spent $70,000 to rehabilitate the spent bleaching earth into compost and has estimated the ongoing e-waste clean up would cost more than $300,000.
EPA has issued Nagambie Resources with a Clean Up Notice to remove all e-waste and treat all contaminated soil by 2020.
Magistrate David Faram said it was a significant breach and he found it difficult to understand why Nagambie Resources had accepted the waste in the first place.
“These decisions have come at a huge cost and that cost will continue,” he said.
“It can’t happen again … at any time, in any circumstances, ever.”
Mr Faram ruled the company was doing all it could to rectify its offending and did not impose a conviction.
EPA CEO Dr Cathy Wilkinson said the community were fed up with the scourge of illegal dumping.
“While the company claimed it was only storing the waste, it didn’t have a licence for that either,” she said.
“Licensing is not about creating red-tape for operators, it’s about ensuring the environment and the public is properly protected.
“E-waste has the potential to leach chemicals, including lead, into the ground which is a risk to environmental and public health.
“Nagambie Resources should have contacted EPA as soon as it was approached by these companies.”
Under EPA’s new legislation
, which will take affect from 1 July 2020, repeat illegal waste dumping will face potential jail time and the maximum fines and penalties will significantly increase.