Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) received more than 9,200 pollution reports from the community and issued over 15,200 fines last financial year, the latest figures show.
Air quality in the Brooklyn Industrial Precinct has also improved significantly, with the number of days exceeding PM10 air quality standards almost halving in 12 months.
And EPA is putting more matters into court, with 12 prosecutions being completed last financial year, double the number finalised in 2014–15.
The figures are revealed in EPA’s 2015–16 Annual Report, published today, which highlights its ongoing work with community, industry and business to regulate and protect Victoria’s environment.
Chief Executive Officer, Nial Finegan said the results show EPA is delivering strong public value for the community and that it takes compliance with Victoria’s environment laws seriously.
“While we make every effort to achieve voluntary compliance, court action and fines remain an important means of holding individuals and companies to account,” Mr Finegan said.
Significantly, in March 2016 EPA laid charges against four companies after completing its comprehensive investigation into environmental breaches following the Hazelwood mine fire.
“We also continued to implement the 2014 Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry recommendations, including acquiring the capability to monitor air quality during incidents,” Mr Finegan said.
Last financial year, EPA issued more than 180 clean up notices, almost 300 pollution abatement notices and conducted over 1,900 inspections.
“Our officers are out there in the community, day in day out, working hard to prevent and minimise environmental harm and making a real difference,” Mr Finegan said.
Other significant highlights included the launch of EPA’s new scientific research vessel, bar-ba-ka, and the expansion of its successful Citizen Science Program with three new pilot projects.
Mr Finegan said EPA officers also assisted with many emergency incidents last financial year, particularly in summer, with major fires in Somerton, Broadmeadows, Wye River and elsewhere.
And 2015–16 marked the final year of EPA’s 5 Year Plan to improve how the Authority regulates and works with the community to protect Victoria’s environment.
“Our efforts are now much more strategic and focused, and we direct our resources to where they have the greatest impact,” Mr Finegan said.
However, Mr Finegan said the Authority would continue to modernise and looked forward to receiving the Victorian Government’s response to the Independent Inquiry into the EPA.
The Inquiry’s report, which makes 48 recommendations, was handed down in March this year.
To view the Annual Report, visit www.epa.vic.gov.au or click here.