The purpose of the OPLE Program is to decrease the environmental and amenity impacts of lower risk and lower complexity waste and pollution issues in the state of Victoria. The OPLE scope includes: 

  • litter
  • noise
  • odour
  • dust
  • Illegal chemical and waste stockpiling.

OPLEs work with local Councils to help industry, business and community find, prevent and resolve environmental issues. 

The OPLE pilot commenced in 2017 and transitioned to an imbedded program in 2022. 

Read about our OPLE's work

EPA sampling and inspections at Edwardes Lake


In September 2023, EPA’s Environment Protection Officers (EPOs) and Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLEs)   tested water quality at the lake for heavy metals and e. coli. These are contaminants that may pose a risk to human health and the environment.

“Edwardes Lake is a dog-friendly, recreational parkland. It attracts lots of different local aquatic and avian species,” EPO Kim–Leang Loeun said.

“This means we expect to find bacteria like e. coli. But runoff from stormwater and nearby industry can increase the risk of pollution.”

Community reports helped the team find 5 strategic water sampling locations. They also had 18 sites of interest for inspection. The inspections provided an opportunity to:

  • understand how hazards and assess risks are identified
  • provide targeted information and guidance to improve compliance
  • follow up with people who had previously received compliance advice.

Testing showed heavy metals were below the levels for reporting. There was no detection of e. Coli downstream of the lake, indicating the low presence of this bacteria isn’t affecting other areas.

Joined by council officers, the team then inspected nearby industrial areas and businesses. They found many businesses could improve their ways of working to protect the lake.

Issues included:

  • liquid storage drums left near stormwater drains without controls to minimise spills
  • broken pipes increasing the risk of pollution
  • washing stations leading straight to stormwater.

After officers provided advice, operators corrected the issues.

“The inspections improved our understanding of business practices in the industrial precinct,” said OPLE Sandra Vargas.

“They also helped us promote awareness of the impacts poor chemical and waste management can have on the environment.”

If you spot water, air, odour or noise pollution, call the EPA Contact Centre on 1300 372 842 or visit our website.

Preventative inspections in the Moolap industrial estate


On a mission to prevent pollution in Geelong’s Stingaree Bay, we sent our Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLEs)  to the nearby Moolap industrial estate. While we were there to help businesses with their waste management, one auto-business had to take immediate action. 

Stormwater from the Moolap estate discharges into Stingaree Bay. This provides important habitat for shoreline birds and fish nurseries.  So any chemical spills or waste escaping nearby businesses can impact water quality.

“When we arrived at one business, we saw a long trail of some sort of hydrocarbon spill. While they’d applied kitty litter to the spill, it was close to an unprotected stormwater drain,” said OPLE Danielle Goonan. 

“While small spills by themselves may not pose a large risk, all these small spills add up to bigger problems for our health and the environment.” 

Our OPLEs responded by issuing a remedial notice. The business took immediate action to prevent further leaks and spills in the waste oil storage area. 


  • added extra oil drum bunding and a spill kit  
  • disposed of waste oil, used oil filters and drained oil drums using an authorised waste management company
  • removed 5.5 tonnes of scrap batteries
  • reduced fire risks by disposing of scrap metal, waste tyres and general rubbish 
  • moved waste oils from open areas into an undercover area in line with EPA guidelines.

By acting so quickly, the business met requirements of the notice before the due date. This was a great outcome for our waterways and environment. 

Our OPLEs help us improve our response to lower-risk waste and pollution issues at a local level.

More information

Liquid storage and handling guidelines

Assessing and controlling risk: A guide for business

OPLE car wrecker and recycling inspections

Spills that contaminate land and pollute waterways and waste that bursts into flames. That’s what we were looking out for when we inspected car wreckers and recyclers in the state’s north west.

We found not only non-compliance, but 4 out of 5 businesses did not know they needed to register with EPA.

Our Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLEs) visited 26 businesses, joined by council officers from 6 local government areas. They issued:

  • 2 environmental action notices
  • 1 improvement notice
  • 46 pieces of compliance advice about registrations and permissions.

“Car wreckers and recyclers can pose a risk to the environment and public health. Oils and other hydrocarbons can leach into the ground, contaminating soil. Liquids can run off-site. This can impact stormwater and local waterways if not managed,” said Environment Protection Officer   Steve Masterson.

These businesses also need to be aware of their fire risks. Large stockpiles of waste can catch fire so duty holders must manage stockpiles properly. They also need to have a risk management plan and keep firefighting equipment on site.

More than 80% of the businesses we spoke to did not know they needed an EPA registration. This limits our ability to prevent environmental harm.

As EPA is limited in regulating backyard operators, we helped council officers understand:

  • which businesses required registration
  • updates to the Environment Protection Act
  • the general environmental duty
  • using correct waste classification codes.

The region is monitoring compliance at 4 of the inspected sites. They have also discovered one more site of interest for inspection.

Find out more about how to determine if your business requires a permission.



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Reviewed 29 April 2024