Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has instructed an Epping compost facility to cease accepting waste until it makes its stockpiles comply with EPA fire safety requirements.

EPA Northern Metropolitan Regional Manager Jeremy Settle says stockpiles of green waste on the site were too big and did not have the necessary separation distances cleared around them.

“Suez Recycling & Recovery Pty Ltd should know its responsibilities.  There have been several fires on the site in recent years, and the size and separation distance requirements are all about limiting the size of fires and making them easier to extinguish if they occur,” Mr Settle said.

“EPA takes a zero-tolerance approach to fire risk in the waste and recycling industry and will take all appropriate regulatory action to protect the community and the environment,” he said.

Firefighters called in EPA when a fire broke out at the Cooper St, Epping, premises on 13 February, and while the fire was quickly contained, EPA officers found several nearby stockpiles of green waste on the site presented an additional hazard.

“Those stockpiles did not comply with EPA requirements for their size or the amount of clear space they must have between any stockpile and nearby buildings, property boundaries or other combustible waste,” Mr Settle said.

“Failing to comply with those regulations can confront firefighters with a huge, burning stockpile that leaves no way to get in and attack it from more than one side,” he said.

The regulations are clearly laid out in EPA’s Combustible Recyclable Waste Management guideline 1667.2 and the Waste Management Policy 2018.  

“EPA has required Suez to take a series of remedial actions over the past three years and while there has been some improvement, another fire combined with non-compliance with those fire control requirements is just not acceptable, so we have issued the company with a Cease to Accept notice,” Mr Settle said.

“As of 5pm, Friday, 19 February 2021, Suez Recycling & Recovery Pty Ltd in Epping must not accept any waste materials until it has made its site compliant with the regulations,” Mr Settle said. 


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

EPA is investigating 13 February incident for possible breaches of the facility’s licence to operate and any relevant sanctions.

EPA’s Combustible Recyclable Waste Management guideline 1667.2 and the Waste Management Policy 2018 set out clear requirements for the protection of the community and the environment.

The two documents are available online, here: epa.vic.gov.au/for-business/find-a-topic/manage-industrial-waste/crwm

Reviewed 22 February 2021