Mitchell Shire Council has been fined after complaints from the public about the smell from its landfill on the Seymour-Tooborac Road, Hilldene.
Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) North East Manager Emma Knights said the Authority used an aerial drone to inspect the landfill after receiving community complaints about the odour.
“Two drone flights in May and July 2017 revealed the contents of the landfill had not been sufficiently covered at the end of each day’s operations,” Ms Knights said.
“EPA-issued landfill licences require waste to be covered to minimise odour, litter, fire, contamination of storm water, or the spread of disease through birds, flies, mosquitoes and rodents,” she said.
“The Council’s licence for this landfill requires that all waste be covered with a layer of soil at the end of each day. The layer must be between 15 and 30 centimetres thick depending on the type of waste. Pictures from the aerial drone showed uncovered waste, which was a contravention of the landfill licence.”
EPA has issued the Mitchell Shire Council with an Infringement Notice, a fine of $7,929, for breaching the conditions of its licence to operate the landfill. The Council has assured EPA that the incident was an isolated occurrence, and that waste has been covered properly each day since then.
“Breaches of the Environment Protection Act are serious matters. Anyone who breaches licence conditions under the Act can potentially face a fine of more than $300,000 if prosecuted before the courts,” Ms Knights said.
“This case is a reminder of the value of reports from members of the public in protecting the environment. Residents reported their observations and EPA investigated,” she said.
Under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Infringements Act 2008, the Mitchell Shire Council has the right to have the decision to issue the infringement notice reviewed or alternatively to have the matter heard and determined by a court.
EPA encourages the community to report pollution to its 24-hour hotline on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC) or by visiting www.epa.vic.gov.au