Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has fined the owner of a former Heathcote fuel station almost $2,000 for failing to comply with an EPA notice to conduct an environmental assessment of soil and groundwater at its site.
The fine comes after the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) upheld the notice in October last year after it was challenged by the owner of the site at 90 High Street.
EPA North West Regional Manager, Scott Pigdon said the site owner had failed to meet a deadline of January 27 this year for providing EPA with the environmental assessment.
“Unfortunately the site owner has taken no action to comply with this notice, despite being made aware of the compliance date by EPA and having gone through the VCAT process,” Dr Pigdon said.
“EPA issued this notice after an investigation found hydrocarbon impacts within McIvor Creek, which is directly behind the former petrol station,” he said.
Dr Pigdon said that during their investigations, EPA officers had detected hydrocarbon-like odours behind the business and petroleum hydrocarbons in a pool of water in McIvor Creek.
“Our officers observed no invertebrate life in the pool where petroleum hydrocarbons had been detected, yet they observed large numbers of invertebrates further upstream. That suggests there’s likely to have been an impact on aquatic life in the creek,” he said.
“As a result, the site owner was issued with a notice to conduct an environmental assessment of its soil and groundwater to see if there is any contamination that might be impacting on the waterway.”
Dr Pigdon said if the environmental assessment confirmed soil or groundwater contamination at the site, further notices could be issued to ensure any legacy pollution is removed.
“EPA takes compliance with its notices seriously and will consider further sanctions under the Environment Protection Act 1970 if the site owner fails to undertake the assessment,” he said.
Dr Pigdon said landowners, and potential purchasers of land, should be aware of potential contamination issues resulting from a business and/or past operations at a site.
EPA urges members of the public to continue reporting suspected pollution to EPA on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC) or at www.epa.vic.gov.au.