Due to a continued inability to meet its licence obligations, Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has suspended Western Land Reclamation’s (WLR) licence to prevent the acceptance of further waste at its Brooklyn landfill site until further notice.
On 27 March 2018, EPA issued WLR with a notice asking them to show cause why their licence should not be suspended. The notice related to non-compliance matters including the filling of landfill cells above permitted height, failure to adequately rehabilitate the landfill cells and allowing emissions of dust and odour to escape the boundaries of the site.
WLR failed to provide evidence adequately supporting that it had achieved compliance or with a plan as to how it would be achieved. This left EPA with no option but to suspend their Brooklyn licence.
‘Suspending the licence will give WLR the time to adequately address the issues that EPA has raised with them and return the site to an appropriate environmental standard and condition, once this has been achieved EPA can then allow a return to normal operations,’ said EPA CEO Nial Finegan.
‘The community would expect us to take this action to safeguard their local environment and have raised concerns directly with EPA in regard to the generation of dust from the height and state of landfill cells. They would not have supported WLR continuing to earn revenue from the landfill levy rebate by accepting waste while it was so clearly in breach of the Environment Protection Act 1970.
‘We will continue to work with Brimbank Council to further investigate how best to proceed from this point forward but our objective will remain the protection of the health of the local community and the environment.’
The latest action follows nearly two decades of action by EPA to enforce regulations at the site.
Recent compliance history – Western Land Reclamation
2001 – Prosecution for contravention of licence condition relating to offensive odours. WLR pleaded guilty, resulting in a s67AC order.
2010 – Remedial notice issued requiring dust controls.
2012 – Remedial notice issued to address offensive odours generated by a landfill fire.
2013 – Remedial notice issued (and later amended under VCAT order) requiring dust controls.
2014 – Remedial notice issued requiring a rehabilitation & aftercare management plan. The notice was subsequently escalated as compliance had not been achieved.
2014 – Remedial notice issued requiring an assessment of the extent of soil and groundwater contamination.
2016 – Remedial notice issued requiring identification and mapping of hotspots at the premises.
2016 – Remedial notice issued (and later amended under VCAT order) requiring management and extinguishment of hotspots at the premises. The notice has now been escalated as compliance was not achieved by the due date. A recommendation for enforcement action is in progress.
2016 – Infringement notice issued for contravention of licence condition relating to discharge of dust beyond the boundaries. Upheld after an internal (EPA) review was requested by WLR.
2016 – Official warning issued for contravention of licence condition relating to uncovered waste.
2017 – Infringement notice issued for contravention of licence condition relating to uncovered waste.
2017 – Several licence non-compliances were identified at the most recent licence compliance inspection and remedial notices are currently being drafted.
Recent appeals history – Western Land Reclamation
2010 – VCAT appeal of licence amendment, relating to waste cover conditions. Special conditions were subsequently issued by EPA to accommodate WLR’s concerns.
2013 – VCAT appeal of a remedial notice issued to WLR requiring additional controls for managing dust generation at the premises. The notice was amended under VCAT order and later revoked when compliance had been achieved.
2016 – WLR sought an internal review of a remedial notice requiring the management of hotspots in the landfill. The review resulted in an amendment to the notice extending the compliance due dates.
2016 – VCAT appeal of the same remedial notice. The notice was amended under VCAT order to further extend compliance due dates and other minor changes. The notice is now in escalated status, as compliance had not been achieved by the final compliance due date.
2016 – WLR sought a review of an infringement notice issued for contravention of licence condition relating to dust beyond the boundaries. The review upheld the infringement notice and the fine was subsequently paid.
2017 – VCAT appeal of licence amendment, as outlined under ‘Recent VCAT decision’ above.