Environment Protection Authority Victoria has fined two individuals almost $4,000 for illegally dumping and burying industrial waste containing asbestos across several acres of the Wargan-Mallee Bushland Reserve.
EPA North West Manger Scott Pigdon said following a report about illegally dumped industrial waste at the reserve, EPA launched an investigation into a Merbein West business.
“EPA officers attended the site and found the boundary fence was down and industrial waste was present across a large area of the reserve,” Dr Pigdon said.
“It’s astounding that our officers found two to three acres of bushland littered with piles of industrial waste that included concrete, bricks, tiles and cement sheeting. They also found waste had been buried throughout the section of the reserve too.”
Dr Pigdon said EPA officers had taken samples from fibrous cement sheeting dumped in the reserve adjacent to a lake’s edge.
“To make matters worse, the results of this sampling showed that not only was illegal dumping of industrial waste occurring in the bushland near a lake, but the dumping tested positive for asbestos,” Dr Pigdon said.
Dr Pigdon said the two fines totalling close to $4,000 could be just the beginning of what could become a long and costly clean-up for the two individuals.
“The occupiers of the site have also received a notice from EPA that requires the removal of all industrial waste from the bushland reserve. The notice also requires the removal of all asbestos contamination by a licensed asbestos removalist,” Dr Pigdon said.
“Under the notice, the pair must also supply EPA with paperwork that shows all of the waste has been taken to a facility that is licensed to receive it.
“Without knowing how much waste is actually at the site, it’s hard to put a dollar figure on amount it will cost to remove the waste, but what we can say is that if the individuals are unable to comply with the notice, they could face a fines of up to $373,104 if prosecuted before the courts.”
EPA urges members of the public to report suspected pollution to the EPA on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC) or at www.epa.vic.gov.au