A burning pile of industrial waste with flames 30 metres high at Lillimur, a small community near Kaniva in western Victoria, has cost a local man a criminal conviction and nearly $10,000 in fine and costs.

EPA Victoria charged Joshua Luke Kostecki of Lillimur over the burning stockpile on rented land behind his Western Highway home, and another fire at a property at Nintingbool, near Ballarat.

Kostecki pleaded guilty in the Horsham Magistrate’s Court to four charges. He was convicted, fined $7,000 and ordered to pay $2,664 in costs to EPA.

The Lillimur fire involved industrial waste dumped overnight on 2/3 May 2021, including carpet, timber, plaster, food packaging, documents, books and fiberglass.  

More waste was dumped on 5 May, covering an area 20 metres by 30 metres and 3 metres high.  

At 1.30 am on 6 May, a witness saw a fire and when EPA officers arrived at sunrise they found the stockpile.

EPA told the court the fire and smoke caused an environmental hazard and endangered surrounding homes, residents and traffic on the Western Highway, which is a major route to South Australia.

After the fire, EPA issued Kostecki with a remedial notice requiring him to remove the waste for lawful disposal by 12 July 2021. 

EPA officers returned on 21 July and found there had been no attempt to clean up. As the landowner, DELWP cleared the site and took the industrial waste for proper disposal, at a cost of more than $77,000.

EPA Executive Director Operations, Mark Rossiter, says anyone considering dumping waste illegally should take note of the criminal conviction and fine.

“This case involves illegal disposal of waste on rented land, illegal burning of waste and refusal to comply with a remedial notice from EPA,” Mr Rossiter said.

“The offences might have been on unoccupied land a long way from the major cities, but someone still saw the stockpile on fire and reported it. The Environment Protection Act is there to protect the environment and the community, and EPA is just a phone call away, 24 hours a day,” he said.

Members of the public can report pollution by calling 1300 372 842 or providing details online at epa.vic.gov.au/report-pollution/reporting-pollution

Reviewed 27 July 2022