Stockpiles of industrial waste stored outside an EPA-licensed facility’s boundary near Stanhope have cost composting company Biomix an $8,060 fine from Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA).
EPA’s Regional Manager North West, Dr Scott Pigdon, says the company has also been issued a Clean Up Notice (CUN) for the illegally stockpiled waste.
“The offence is a licence breach, the company’s Stanhope facility is licensed to produce compost at the facility that is specially designed to prevent contamination of the land and groundwater,” Dr Pigdon said.
“Storing organic waste outside this facility on open ground means there is a very real risk of just that kind of contamination,” he said.
The Biomix site at Stanhope has an EPA licence to process 100,000 tonnes of waste a year into compost for resale. The licence requires a buffer zone between the facility and neighbouring properties, engineered hardstands to separate the waste from the soil underneath, and properly designed drainage to keep runoff from contaminating groundwater and local waterways.
The licence also limits the size of any stockpiles of waste and compost, and requires minimum separation distances between stockpiles and other fire suppression measures. The site has had a number of fires in recent years.
EPA officers inspecting the site made use of a sophisticated aerial drone to survey the compost piles as part of their investigation.
“This case is a reminder that EPA licences and the conditions that come with them, are to be taken seriously, and there are official orders, fines and possibly prosecution in court for those who don’t,” Dr Pigdon said.
Under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Infringements Act 2008, the company has the right to have the decision to issue the infringement notice reviewed or alternatively to have the matter heard and determined by a court.
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 pollution by calling EPA’s 24 hour hotline on 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).