Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has fined a milk transport company over a leak that let smelly contaminated water enter a creek at Korumburra.
EPA Regional Manager, Gippsland Region, Stephen Lansdell said it was disappointing to see another pollution event involving the dairy industry supply chain, and trucking companies in particular.
“Milk might seem harmless but it quickly goes off, producing odour, contaminating land and affecting aquatic species in waterways,” Mr Lansdell said.
“EPA has issued fines in similar cases here in Gippsland, and it is concerning that some people in the community and the dairy industry don’t do enough to stop milk entering stormwater drains or waterways,” he said.
“It must be treated on site, diluted for irrigation or directed to the sewerage system, otherwise it becomes an environmental hazard.”
The company, O'Neills Bulk Tanker Service Pty Ltd, has paid a fine of $8,060, after EPA officers responded to reports from the community of a strong odour of milk coming from an unnamed creek adjacent to Amiets Road, Korumburra.
They found grey-brown rancid smelling water in the creek and traced it back to the O’Neills truck depot, where it appeared to be discharging through a hole in the sump that collected waste water from the truck wash bay.
The EPA officers observed milk tankers at the site, and milky water in a drainage pit at the truck wash bay. There were intermittent pools of grey/brown water extending down to the creek.
A witness reported seeing milky coloured, smelly water flowing in the creek a few weeks earlier, and EPA believes the discharge could have been occurring for some months.
Alongside the fine, EPA issued the company with a Pollution Abatement Notice (PAN), requiring that it modify the overflow system at its truck wash to prevent any further discharges. The company complied and the PAN was revoked.
“This situation could have been avoided easily. EPA produces guidance on the proper storage and handling of liquids, and how you can reduce and control any risks,” Mr Lansdell said.
Farmers, transport companies and milk processors can find a guide to the proper storage and handling of liquids on the EPA website, at: www.epa.vic.gov.au/business-and-industry/guidelines/liquid-storage-and-handling-guidance
“Gippsland is one of Victoria’s highest producing milk regions and everyone in the supply chain is responsible for protecting the environment from the harmful effects of milk entering the environment,” Mr Lansdell said.
“If you don’t do the right thing, the consequences can have a negative impact on your business reputation and your bottom line,” he said.
Under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Infringements Act 2008, a company that has been fined has the right to have the decision reviewed or alternatively to have the matter heard and determined by a court.
Victoria’s new environment laws take effect on 1 July 2020 and introduce a general environmental duty requiring businesses and individuals to prevent harm to the environment and human health. You can learn more on EPA’s website at www.epa.vic.gov.au/newlaws