Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) continues to enforce strong regulatory action on Coolaroo company, Glass Recovery Services.
EPA officers are very regularly inspecting the site to hold Glass Recovery Services to account against the Victorian Waste Management Policy and since early September have taken the additional step of installing 24/7 security.
EPA has laid 14 charges against the company and its sole director for notice contraventions and breaches of the Victorian Waste Management Policy. EPA has also issued notices that require it to cease accepting all waste, to take action to comply with the Victorian Waste Management Policy and to monitor any hotspots within its stockpiles to reduce the risk of a fire occurring.
EPA has found that a black substance that entered Merlynston Creek on 21 October 2019 and flowed into Jack Roper Reserve originated from the Glass Recovery Services site. EPA has confirmed it was leachate, which has seen signs put up advising the community to stay away from the waterways due to health concerns caused by the spill.
An investigation into the spill will determine what compliance and enforcement action EPA will take in relation to the pollution of the local waterway. EPA expects to take compliance and enforcement action within weeks.
The 14 charges previously laid allege the company and the director breached the company’s licence by allowing waste to be discharged, emitted or deposited outside its Maffra St, Coolaroo property on 12 October 2018, 21 February 2019, 28 and 29 March 2019 and 1 April 2019.
The charges also allege Glass Recovery Services and the director contravened the company’s licence by failing to ensure waste at the premises didn’t burn on 29 March 2019.
In addition, Glass Recovery Services and the director have each been charged with two counts of failing to comply with a notice requiring the removal of any combustible and recyclable waste material stored outdoors, most recently on 6 September.
The maximum penalty for a licence contravention is $386,856.
As this matter is now before the courts EPA will not make any further comment about these charges. The first mention of this case is due be heard at Broadmeadows Magistrates’ Court on 31 October.
Under the notice requiring the company to monitor stockpile hotspots, Glass Recovery Services is required to excavate and remove any waste above a temperature of 50°C in order to reduce the temperatures within its stockpiles.
The company must also undertake daily temperature monitoring, odour surveillance and visual inspections. In addition, an EPA drone is being used to conduct thermal imaging of the site’s stockpiles and an independent fire engineer has also provided advice about how the stockpiles should be managed to reduce any risk of fire.
EPA’s strong regulatory actions are further supported by the VCAT orders obtained by Hume City Council.
It should be noted that a recent incident at the site at which emergency services attended turned out to be steam coming from the company’s stockpile and not a fire as was widely reported.
EPA CEO Cathy Wilkinson said EPA would continue to use all regulatory tools at its disposal, and that the community rightly expects those responsible for causing an environmental hazard to be responsible for cleaning it up.
“EPA has to go through due process under our legislation to give the owners as the duty holder a chance to clean up, at their cost and to regain compliance with the Victorian Waste Management Policy,” Dr Wilkinson said.
“If EPA has to step in to clean up, it becomes a cost to the community when it should be a cost to the duty holder. EPA will use all its regulatory powers and continue to work closely with other agencies to reduce any risk to community safety and the environment.”