A food processing company has been fined $8,060 after Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) discovered that they failed to comply with a notice for the company’s Girgarre piggery requiring environmental controls around deceased animals composting on open ground with no controls to prevent impacts to stormwater and groundwater.

GEORGE WESTON FOODS LTD (Girgarre Piggery) premises located at White Road, Girgarre, was inspected by EPA Officers on 10 October, 2018 in response to pollution reports about bad odour emanating from the site.

The officers observed dead livestock being allowed to decompose in an above ground pile. Deceased livestock, if composted onsite, must be managed appropriately. Surface deposits of carcases can result in odour impacts and contamination of surface water and groundwater systems.

“The company received a pollution abatement notice requiring that they improve their operations in line with best practice guidelines for piggeries, but on 7 February this year on a return inspection, it was clear their practices had not been modified and the operation was still occurring on bare ground,” said Dr Scott Pigdon, EPA Regional Manager North West Region.

“Only hay bales had been put in place to prevent run-off.  It was clear that the notice requirement had not been met.

“Composting of deceased livestock is a viable waste management option. However, the activity must be conducted in a way the ensures that risks to the environment are managed.”

“In this case, EPA provided the company an opportunity to comply and fix the operation, through the service of a pollution abatement notice (PAN). The company failed to comply, and this has resulted in a fine of $8,060.”

Information on environmental controls for composting can be found on EPAs website. EPA encourage that duty holders take responsibility, and ensure that their operations are meeting best practice standards.

Under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Infringements Act 2008, a company that has been fined has the right to have the decision reviewed or alternatively to have the matter heard and determined by a court. 

Victoria’s new environment laws take effect on 1 July 2020 and introduce a general environmental duty requiring businesses and individuals to prevent harm to the environment and human health.  You can learn more on EPA’s website at www.epa.vic.gov.au/newlaws

Reviewed 23 August 2019