EPA Victoria officers have inspected 28 industrial sites around Cowies Creek in North Geelong, in search of any threats to local waterways.

The inspections are part of a statewide program to resolve problems before they cause a spill or let chemicals escape into stormwater drains, creeks and rivers.  More than 380 sites have been inspected around 12 waterways across Victoria since mid 2022.

EPA Southwest Regional Manager Carolyn Francis says it’s about sensible preventative measures each business should take.

“Businesses in North Geelong were cooperative and most of the issues we found could be fixed easily. The team gave compliance advice to a number of the businesses and will conduct follow up inspections at some sites,” Ms Francis said.

“We also issued 10 remedial notices; each one is an instruction from EPA to take specific actions to fix a problem. They come with a set deadline and there’s no fine if the business complies,” she said.

The North Geelong inspections targeted risks of contamination to stormwater particularly from businesses that had little or no previous interaction with EPA. Typical issues found included:

  • inappropriate storage of waste oil
  • inappropriate storage/handling of waste that might burn, such as used batteries
  • wastewater and wash water escaping to stormwater drains
  • the lack of spill kits containing materials and equipment to contain a spill

Some of the businesspeople were unaware of the General Environmental Duty, which makes it every Victorian’s responsibility to take reasonable actions to prevent pollution.

The inspections target any site that can cause a spill, from concrete batching plants to chemical distributors, businesses offering vehicle and machinery servicing/repairs, chemical handling and a variety of other industrial activities.

“Stormwater drains empty into local creeks and rivers, so it’s important that businesses know their responsibility to take all reasonable actions to prevent pollution,” Ms Francis said.

EPA has information online at epa.vic.gov.au/for-business/find-a-topic/store-manage-liquids

There’s more information on the General Environmental Duty here: epa.vic.gov.au/about-epa/laws/laws-and-your-business/general-environmental-duty-for-businesses

Reviewed 23 March 2023