Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has fined a company that reconditions waste chemical containers after EPA officers found sludge that contained Prescribed Industrial Waste (PIW) being discarded in a general waste skip bin on its Sunshine West site.
EPA Western Metropolitan Regional Manager Stephen Lansdell says the investigation started with a routine inspection.
“EPA often conducts inspections of businesses that engage in chemical storage, handling and disposal, and on this occasion our officers took samples from a skip bin containing sludge,” Mr Lansdell said.
“Chemical analysis of the samples found all three categories (A, B and C) of Prescribed Industrial Waste. The company’s EPA-issued licence requires it to monitor any waste so it can be categorised for proper disposal, but the fact that we found the sludge sitting in a skip bin made it clear those things were not happening,” Mr Lansdell said.
In the case of Prescribed Industrial Waste, proper disposal means being taken to a specially licensed facility with the load tracked all the way by a system of EPA Waste Transport Certificates.
“The lack of proper monitoring and categorisation of the waste is a breach of the company’s licence under the Environment Protection Act 1970,” Mr Lansdell said.
“EPA does have some options to deal with environmental breaches that don’t involve issuing a fine, including written warnings and Clean Up Notices (CUN), but this company has been warned and fined before. Clearly, they should know better,” he said.
VIP Steel Packaging Pty Ltd, trading as Astron Sustainability, in Normanby Avenue, Sunshine West, has been fined $8,261 and issued with a legally enforceable Pollution Abatement Notice (PAN) requiring it to take measures to prevent any future breaches.
“It is disappointing that a company that has every reason to know its responsibilities to the environment and the community would allow this to happen,” Mr Lansdell said.
“Any business dealing with chemicals should take notice of the fact that EPA conducts inspections and the conditions in the company’s licence to operate will be enforced,” he said.
VIP Steel Packaging Pty Ltd has since begun a program of sampling and categorising the waste sludge produced at its premises for proper disposal.
The VIP Steel Packaging Pty Ltd premises at Sunshine West reconditions plastic IBC containers by washing. The waste sludge produced at the premises is a by-product of the onsite waste water treatment process.
The inspection took place on 30 June, 2020.
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.
Prescribed Industrial Waste (PIW) is any type of industrial waste that is listed in regulations under the Environment Protection Act 1970. The regulations specify how each type of PIW must be processed for reuse, recycled or sent for disposal at a properly licensed and equipped facility.
Members of the public can report pollution by calling EPA’s 24 hour hotline on 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).
Reviewed 14 October 2020