Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has today suspended the Barro Group’s licence to operate the Sunshine landfill in Kealba.
The suspension relates to breaches caused by ongoing hotspots and odour impacting nearby residents.
Today’s suspension follows a Notice of Intention to Suspend Permission issued in July, alleging it was in contravention of its operating licence due to the odour impacts of the hotspots.
After careful consideration of the current situation and the duty holder’s response, EPA has now formed the view that Barro has significantly contravened its licence conditions.
While Barro voluntarily ceased accepting waste at the site in December 2020, the suspension notice now enforces this action and opens up other avenues for regulation and sanction. The duty holder cannot start to accept waste until EPA is satisfied that Barro’s contravention of its licence has been rectified. Given this suspension EPA has also issued an Environmental Action Notice to ensure Barro continue to manage any risks from the landfill site.
EPA chief executive Mr Lee Miezis said the decision was a strong statement from EPA.
“EPA has received more than 900 pollution reports from residents around this site. We have had clean-up notices on this site since December 2019. This is not acceptable to the residents or EPA,” Mr Miezis said.
“We will continue to regulate until the company fully extinguishes all hotspots and prevents them from reoccurring in the future, while ensuring there would be no financial cost to the community.”
“Protecting the health and wellbeing of the residents and the environment is our first priority and we will continue to use whatever powers we have to make sure the hotspots are extinguished as quickly and safely as possible.’’
Barro has held an EPA licence to operate a solid inert landfill at 22 Sunshine Ave, Kealba since 2013. The licence has included two conditions requiring the operator to ensure that:
• waste does not burn at the premises; and
• odours offensive to the senses of human beings are not discharged, emitted or released beyond the boundaries of the premises.
Since December 2019, five clean up notices have been served on this site requiring remediation. All Clean Up Notices have focused on progressing the investigation and remediation of the site.
To date, EPA has sanctioned Barro Group twice since this incident occurred. The first sanction was an Official Warning for failing to immediately notify EPA that hotspots had been detected. The second sanction was an Infringement Notice in April 2020 - about $8,000 - for failing to apply daily cover at the end of operations each day.
EPA has also issued Barro Group with a noise notice. The notices requires Barro Group to comply with a new environmental law, the General Environmental Duty, that requires all duty holders to take practicable measures to prevent noise pollution.
Under this notice, Barro Group must review and put in place further controls to prevent or reduce noise from clean-up works near street level at the landfill. Barro Group has until October 6, 2021 to comply with this notice.
Reviewed 9 August 2021