Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has fined Whelans Group nearly $8,000 for failing to comply with an order to reduce a tyre stockpile equivalent to more than 20,000 waste car tyres at its Bairnsdale site.
EPA Gippsland Manager, Stephen Lansdell, said under the Environment Protection (Scheduled Premises and Exemptions), (Industrial Waste Resource) and (Fees) Amendment Regulations 2015, Whelans Group Investments P/L is permitted to store up to 40 tonnes, or the equivalent of 5,000 waste car tyres, on the site for purposes of retreading, recycling or resale.
“The stockpile of mostly truck and large commercial tyres is equivalent to more than four times than the amount allowed. EPA issued the company with a pollution abatement notice requiring that the stockpile be reduced to the permitted size by 21 June, but very little had been done when the due date arrived,” Mr Lansdell said.
“It’s very disappointing. EPA gave the company plenty of time to comply and significant assistance, including researching disposal locations and providing frequent reminders. However, when we inspected the site again, only a very small percentage of the tyres had been removed.”
The company has now been fined and EPA has issued it with a legally enforceable Clean Up Notice requiring that it put in place a detailed plan and timeline for removing the tyres. If it fails to comply, it faces the potential for additional fines.
EPA tightened tyre regulations in 2015 to ensure the Victorian public was better protected from the risk of tyre fires, vermin and other hazards from unsafe stockpiles.
The regulations require premises that store more than 40 tonnes or 5,000 waste tyres to obtain a licence from EPA. They also specify on-site firefighting resources, limits on the size of piles of tyres and minimum distances between and around the piles.
“Tyre fires can cause significant pollution of the atmosphere and are incredibly difficult to put out, as was the case when the stockpile at the Tyre Crumb site at Broadmeadows caught fire in January last year,” Mr Lansdell said.
Mr Lansdell said it was disappointing that the company had not complied with the pollution abatement notice. EPA hopes the fine will encourage others to comply with the regulations.
Anyone who illegally stockpiles tyres can potentially face a fine of up to $373,104 if prosecuted before the courts.
If the community suspects someone is illegally stockpiling tyres or taking them to a place that cannot lawfully accept waste tyres, they are encouraged to contact EPA’s 24-hour pollution hotline on 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).
To view the EPA tyre regulations, please visit:
www.epa.vic.gov.au/business-and-industry/guidelines/waste-guidance/storage-of-waste-tyres-in-victoria or www.epa.vic.gov.au/our-work/setting-standards/waste-tyre-storage-ris