The director of a ‘resource recovery’ business has been convicted and fined $30,000 with a further $20,000 in costs after repeatedly and persistently disregarding orders to manage the environmental dangers a Somerton operation created.
Eugene Skliar was one of two directors of Ecotec Woodwaste Pty Ltd and Ecotec Resource Recovery Pty Ltd, both of which are now dissolved companies, in Somerton where demolition waste was stored and handled since April 2014 without being EPA works approval or licence.
The operations came to the notice of Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) when neighbouring businesses raised concerns about the sudden escalation in waste and burn off activity.
Following a large fire at the premises in September 2014, EPA served Minor Works Pollution Abatement notices to force Mr Skliar’s companies to cease accepting waste and stop all burning. A Clean up Notice (CUN) and was also served requiring the waste to be removed from the premises by November 2014.
On a subsequent inspection in October 2014 EPA Officers observed an air-burner operating in direct contravention of the notices.
The matter was heard at Broadmeadows Magistrates Court over 3 days in December 2017 and on Friday (2 Feb 2018). Magistrate Abigail Burchill was scathing in sentencing Mr Skliar saying: “This was very serious offending against EPA, and your actions were intentional. You (Skliar) showed an arrogant and complete disregard for EPA. There was potential for catastrophic harm and real fire danger. I have found you have acted in an intentional and serious aggravating manner. You have shown no insight or remorse for your offending. I have assessed your rehabilitation as little to zero. You should be under close monitoring by all environmental authorities in this country.”
“Both companies are deregistered but, where such serious environmental crimes occur, EPA is committed to pursuing not just companies but their directors and hold them to account for their actions,” said EPA CEO Nial Finegan.
“Hume Council also brought charges against Ecotec for similar serious offending. In that instance, Mr Skliar was fined $59,000, with costs of $20,000, together with an order of 100 hours of community work. At the time, they described the operation as an ‘old-fashioned tip’ operating without any permits or licenses.
“This is a very serious example of deliberately illegal activity in the waste management industry and the conviction sends a strong message to all those involved in it that EPA will pursue you and the courts will provide serious and costly verdicts if convicted.
“In total, Mr Skliar is nearly $130,000 out of pocket, he has a conviction against his name as well as the community service. On top of that he’s left his landlord on the rented property with the responsibility of cleaning it up which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The lesson should be obvious to all.”