Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has fined a Preston concrete pumping company $8,261 over failing to change their ways to prevent industrial wash water entering stormwater drains that flow into Darebin Creek.

EPA Northern Metropolitan Regional Manager Jeremy Settle says the investigation began with a call from a member of the public to EPA’s 24 hour pollution hotline number, 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).

“This is another great example of the local community being our eyes and ears. We really value this local intelligence. It is vital in helping us to prevent and respond to harm," Mr Settle said.

EPA officers found that cement-laden wash waters discharging from the Positive Pumping Melbourne Pty Ltd premises to the stormwater system on Kerr Street, Preston, had elevated concentrations of metals and were very alkaline.

“This is a serious matter; those stormwater drains eventually flow into Darebin Creek Reserve,” Mr Settle said.

“Sediment like this can be harmful to the plants, fish and tiny animals that make the creek their home.  It can make the water murky and block out the sunlight they need, and its alkaline content can change the water’s natural acidity levels,” he said.

“Our officers gave the company a chance to clean up its act before resorting to a fine.  They issued EPA regulatory notices requiring the company to install controls to prevent polluted water from the washing of concrete pumps from entering the stormwater system, and to immediately cease washing vehicles and equipment until the controls were installed.”

“The fine is for non-compliance with one of those notices; and having been fined, the company is still required to comply,” Mr Settle said.

“This case is a reminder to all companies that they must understand their obligations to the environment and the community, and EPA regulatory notices must be taken seriously,” Mr Settle said. 

Under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Infringements Act 2006, the company has the right to have the decision to issue the infringement notice reviewed or alternatively to have the matter heard and determined by a court.

Members of the public can report pollution by calling EPA’s 24 hour hotline on 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).

Reviewed 12 November 2020