Horsham Magistrate’s Court has fined a local company $50,000 for dumping the waste from a Horsham demolition job at a rural property near Warracknabeal.
Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) traced the waste to the property after receiving a report from Horsham Rural City Council of rubble being cleared from the former site of a fuel station at 31 Mill Street, Horsham.
EPA Regional Manager North West, Dr Scott Pigdon, says the Magistrate also ordered B & J Bentley Investments (Aust) Pty Ltd to pay $8,000 in costs and publicise the result of the case in the Wimmera Mail Times.
“The company pleaded guilty under Section 27 of the Environment Protection Act 1970 for dumping industrial waste at a site not licensed to accept that waste,” Dr Pigdon said.
“The construction and demolition waste included concrete, timber, soil, gravel, plastic and metal, as well as more than 10 square metres of asbestos sheeting,” he said.
“EPA testing showed three out of four soil samples taken from the property on Gaulkes Road, Warracknabeal, contained asbestos.”
EPA officers also found scrap metals and car bodies; rusted metal drums, iron sheeting, disused petrol tanks up to 20,000 litres in size, evidence of burnt waste including timbers, plastics, green waste, recycling, plastic bulk containers, a mattress, a pit with mixed waste including carpet and plastic drums, and soil contaminated with fuel and oil.
In a letter to EPA, a Director of the company said the waste had accumulated on the property over a long time and he intended it for reuse and recycling.
EPA issued the company with a Clean Up Notice (CUN), a legally enforceable order to clean up waste materials at the Gaulkes Road property, including the demolition waste from the former Horsham fuel station.
“A second inspection by EPA officers a few weeks later revealed a large amount of waste still on the property, but the Clean Up Notice has now been complied with,” Dr Pigdon said.
“The clear message in this case is that EPA will hold offenders to account for pollution, and we will follow up on the official notices we issue, to make sure they have cleaned up the mess and taken any required measures to prevent future pollution,” he said.
“Those responsible can’t just ignore pollution, nor can they ignore the law.”
Victoria’s new environment laws take effect on 1 July 2020 and introduce a general environmental duty requiring businesses and individuals to prevent harm to the environment and human health. Learn more on EPA’s website at www.epa.vic.gov.au/newlaws
Members of the public can report illegally dumped waste and other types of pollution by calling EPA’s 24 hour hotline on 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).