A surveillance operation at a known illegal dumping spot has cost a Werribee-based lawn mowing contractor a $1,934 fine for abandoning a truckload of garden waste in a suburban street.
Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) Regional Manager Metropolitan, Daniel Hunt, says Wyndham City Council and EPA officers teamed up on the investigation.
“Wyndham is one of 13 Victorian Councils that each have an in-house Officer for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLE) from EPA. That gives the Councils faster, easier access to the EPA’s investigation capabilities and capacity to impose larger fines,” Mr Hunt said.
Pictures from a Council video camera showed a tip truck belonging to the contractor dumping a load of mostly green waste, then driving away.
Wyndham City Council Director City Operations Stephen Thorpe says the location in Tariff Court, Werribee, is in an industrial estate, and has far too often been a convenient spot for illegal dumping.
“We escalated the case to EPA because repeated waste dumping at the site has been creating a nuisance to the community and a hazard to the local environment,” Mr Thorpe said.
Dumped green waste can flood nearby stormwater drains and creeks with nutrients, leading to toxic algae blooms that can kill the waterway’s natural wildlife.
“This kind of mess doesn’t just go away; illegal dumping is effectively an attempt to dump the cost of the clean-up on the Council and our community, and that is not acceptable.”
The offence was committed in November 2018, and the contractor later conducted the clean-up.
EPA’s Daniel Hunt says illegal dumping can end up costing the offender far more than they thought they were saving.
“In this case, the fine from EPA is 10 times the cost of disposing of a truckload of green waste properly. You only have to be caught once, for illegal dumping to become a very expensive exercise,” Mr Hunt said.
“In other cases, with multiple loads or mixed waste, offenders have paid far more in clean-up costs than the size of the fine, or any tip fees they might have avoided,” he said.
“This case is another success for the OPLE program, which bases EPA officers with local councils like Wyndham, running joint investigations and providing quick responses to local reports of noise, odour, dust, waste dumping and storage, litter and water pollution.”
Under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Infringements Act 2008, the recipient of the fine 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.
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. Learn more on EPA’s website at www.epa.vic.gov.au/newlaws
Members of the public can report illegal dumping and other types of pollution by calling EPA’s 24 hour hotline on 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).