EPA will be joined by representatives from GWMWater, West Wimmera Shire Council, Agriculture Victoria and the Country Fire Authority (CFA).
Come along to the meeting to receive an update and the opportunity to put questions to EPA and other relevant government organisations.
When: Wednesday, 4 December 2019
Time: 5 to 6.30 pm
Where: Kaniva Shire Hall, Baker Street, Kaniva
RSVP: Registrations are important. Please register via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
EPA is investigating an illegal waste dump at a large rural property. It is located approximately 15 kilometres south of Kaniva near Lemon Springs on a 1400-acre property on the Kaniva–Edenhope Rd.
What EPA is doing
As part of an EPA investigation 20 sites have been located on the property with what we suspect are industrial waste containers buried underground. We used a new form of drone technology with Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), a first for an Australian regulator, in the investigation.
EPA is working with Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water Corporation (GWMWater) to monitor groundwater. With the data collected, EPA has not found any groundwater impacts.
EPA has expanded the program to monitor groundwater conditions on the property. This has been achieved through the construction of new bores on the property and undertaking more groundwater testing. GWMWater will continue to monitor the urban supply. Please see this fact sheet prepared by GWMWater for more information on Kaniva's groundwater supply.
We also carried out soil sampling and assessed surface level vapour risks on areas suspected of buried waste to determine if any harmful gasses are escaping from underground. The results have come back negative to both public health and environmental concerns.
Three of the more significant areas suspected of buried waste have been excavated. The excavations have shown that the waste has been buried in a systematic and organised manner. Samples from excavated containers have been sent for analysis to an independent National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited laboratory for a range of chemicals including solvents and hydrocarbons. EPA is awaiting the analysis results.
Exploratory excavation works show the 20 dispersed waste dumps contain a volume of waste of up to 8,000 cubic metres of solid and liquid waste. Of this volume, we estimate three to five million litres is potentially liquid waste, which is likely to contain solvents, hydrocarbons and associated liquid waste. The total area covered by the 20 dump sites is around 2 acres of the 1,400 acre property (<0.2 per cent).
All excavated waste has been placed in a secure and bunded area on the property. This waste will be removed from the site and taken to an appropriately licensed facility by the end of November in accordance with transport of Dangerous Goods legislation.
This work has provided more information to EPA about the type and extent of waste that has been buried at the property. It also provides a better understanding of the best way to achieve a cleanup of the site that prevents harm to human health and the environment.
We are also conducting more drone with GPR flights over the property to do further search and mapping work.
EPA has also hired contractors to undertake further assessments to identify any more measures required, beyond the steps we are already taking, to ensure the safety of the community and the environment. The assessment is underway and expected to be completed around the end of the year.
EPA has taken a further step in the ongoing legal process. It has issued the owner of the property a Clean Up Notice. This states the site has to be secure and have signage installed. It also orders the carrying out of an Environmental Site Assessment, supervised by EPA. This will determine the type and extent of the contamination present. The legal notice stops the property owner from excavating any of the buried waste at the site. The property owner has not met all conditions of the notice. EPA takes this non-compliance extremely seriously, and further action is being taken.
EPA has asked the owner of the property to show cause why EPA the Authority should not use its regulatory powers to step in to take over management and cleanup of the site’s environmental issues. Further action will be determined once the owner of the property has been given an opportunity to respond. Meanwhile, EPA is onsite regularly and progressing its investigation.
EPA holds the duty holder to account. Under the Environment Protection Act 1970, the person who dumped the waste must clean up the site.
A cleanup cost or timeframe is not yet available. We expect cleanup to take some time. It will be a complex process.
This has been an extensive investigation with more work to come.
The challenges to date have included:
- the size and remoteness of the premises
- the natural geology
- the identification of potential areas where waste may be buried underground
- the waste is buried making analysis and quantification difficult
- the safety of our staff.
Risks to human health and the environment
EPA's priority throughout its investigation of this site is the safety of the community and our staff.
EPA is working with GWMWater to monitor groundwater. With the data collected, EPA has not found any groundwater impacts.
EPA has expanded the program to monitor groundwater conditions on the property. GWMWater will continue to monitor the urban supply.
We also carried out soil sampling and assessed surface level vapour risks on areas suspected of buried waste. The latter means identifying if any harmful gasses are escaping from underground. The results have come back negative to both human health and environmental concerns.