The work of the Victorian Government’s Resource Recovery Facilities Audit Taskforce has seen Dandenong South company Polytrade Pty Ltd fined almost $8000 for failing to comply with an Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) notice at its Campbellfield site.
EPA CEO Nial Finegan said the fine was issued to Polytrade as it had inadequate stormwater management controls at the site and did not address the issue when required to do so under statutory notice.
“This company stores and processes kerbside recycling including paper, cardboard, glass, aluminium and plastic at its Campbellfield premises. An inspection by the taskforce found that no controls were in place to prevent polluted stormwater leaving the site,” Mr Finegan said.
“Water contact with un-washed bales of these recyclables is likely to pollute stormwater, with any discharges likely to pollute Merri Creek and potentially impact on animals, birds, wildlife, fish or other aquatic life.”
Mr Finegan said the notice issued required the company to report on how it controlled its stormwater.
“The company has failed to comply with this notice, which it why it has been fined almost $8000. The taskforce will continue to monitor this site to ensure it becomes compliant with its environmental obligations, and if it does not, will look at further fines or possible prosecutions,” Mr Finegan said.
EPA has also issued the company with a notice that requires Polytrade to manage any storage of combustible recyclables in ways that minimises the risk of fires that can affect human health and the environment, and in accordance with the requirements of the Victorian government’s new Waste Management Policy (Resource Recovery Facilities) 2017.
Polytrade has been issued with a further four notices requiring improved environmental performance and hazard management with compliance due over the coming months. EPA is conducting regular joint inspections of the site to ensure risks are actively managed.
The taskforce is chaired by Mr Finegan and includes representatives from Emergency Management Victoria, Metropolitan Fire Brigade, County Fire Authority and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
The taskforce was established to audit the resource recovery industry following a fire at SKM’s recycling plant in Coolaroo in July 2017.
To date, the taskforce has conducted over 110 inspections across 75 sites and has issued over 50 statutory tools to sites that require measures to be taken to ensure community safety that operations protect the environment.
"The taskforce is putting the resource recovery industry on notice that excessive stockpiling that presents any potential risk to human health or the environment will not be tolerated," Mr Finegan said.
To assist the taskforce, the Victorian Government has strengthened the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) by establishing an interim Waste Management Policy to improve safety standards at waste and resource recovery facilities.
This is in addition to investing $162.5 million to reform the EPA and passing the Environment Protection Bill 2017 in October this year – the first of two Bills to overhaul the independent regulator.
To help industry comply with the policy, the taskforce has developed guidelines that provide detailed information for resource recovery facility operators on how best to prevent and reduce the impact of fires.