As Victoria’s environmental regulator, it's EPA's job to reduce the impacts from pollution and waste on human health and the environment. We hold polluters to account by enforcing the Environment Protection Act 1970.

At the site, EPA is continuing to:

  • work with EnviroPacific Services (EPS) to cleanup and remediate the site
  • monitor for any offsite impacts, and to date, nothing has been detected
  • investigate the dangers present onsite
  • investigate how the material arrived and then was disposed of onsite
  • make sure the site is secure
  • survey using our drones
  • create a safe working environment for EPA staff and contractors.

How EPA investigated and what we found

Among the tools we are using during this investigation are drones with ground-penetrating radar (GPR). We can fly these over the site and they can tell us if there is anything unusual buried. The GPR initially found 20 sites on the property where we suspect containers holding industrial waste are buried.

We have continued to use drones with GPR to investigate the site. We want to make sure that we have discovered all of the chemical waste. We have found more underground locations of interest and we will inspect up to ten new locations. These new discoveries are small in size.

In late 2019, we partially excavated three major areas where we suspected waste was buried. We took samples for analysis, to find out what has been buried.

We estimate 3,000 to 9,000m3 of solid and liquid waste have been buried on the property. We think that more than half of this amount is liquid waste. It is likely to contain solvents, hydrocarbons and other liquid waste.

Removing chemicals from the site

This is a large, complex and isolated site. Remediation will take time and occur in stages.   

Stage one – complete

A partial excavation of the three bigger underground dump locations was completed in late 2019. This helped EPA understand the type and volume of waste buried at the site. 

We have removed the waste dug up during this stage and disposed of it at an appropriately licensed site.

During this stage, we also constructed two internal roads and a large hardstand for future works. This will ensure the next phase of works can be completed in a safe and efficient manner. These roads will stop trucks and heavy machinery from getting bogged in the sandy soils.

Stage two – in progress

Mobilisation onsite has now been completed, with site huts, triage structure and access roads established. EnviroPacific Services Ltd are continuing to conduct detailed site investigations, with the first excavation and removal of waste due to occur in late April. This will include sampling, classifying and transporting to an appropriately licensed facility for disposal. 

A community meeting was held in Kaniva on 24 March with representatives from cleanup contractor EnviroPacific Services, West Wimmera Shire Council, WorkSafe and CFA. The meeting has been recorded and is available for viewing on our website www.epa.vic.gov.au/lemonsprings

Planning is currently underway to install additional groundwater monitoring wells in various locations on the site. EPA will continue to update the community on results throughout the clean up and remediation works.
 

Our cost recovery action for the illegal waste dump site

EPA will continue to pursue the occupier to pay for the cost of cleaning up and will use all available powers to hold them to account.

Contractors 

We’re managing all procurement relating to this project. We acknowledge there's is a lot of interest in assisting EPA with the project. We'll be making decisions in line with government procurement practices.

EPA won't be employing individuals directly. Contractor companies successful in the tendering process will be responsible for employing their own staff.

Enforcement action

Under the Environment Protection Act 1970 (the Act), the person who dumped the waste is responsible for cleaning it up.

EPA issued a clean up notice to the owner of the site in 2019.  As a number of the milestones were not met, we asked the owner of the property to show cause why EPA should not use our regulatory powers to take over the management of the property. The property owner failed to show cause.

On 3 December 2019 EPA exercised its powers under the Act, and took over management of the site. This means EPA will secure, monitor and seek to remove all hazardous waste from the property. 

In late March Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) announced it had charged Graham Leslie White, owner of the site, with 118 offences under the Act. The charges allege that the individual permitted the transport and burial of various types of industrial waste at his rural premises at Lemon Springs. The charges further allege that this unlawful dumping created an environmental hazard and polluted both land and water on the site, amongst other matters. As these are now matters before the courts EPA will be making no further comment.

Emergency management and site safety

We have been working with the Grampians Regional Emergency Management Team to keep incident response and consequence management plans up-to-date. Regional Emergency Management Teams are a group of local and state government agencies who may have a role during an emergency incident. 

We are working with CFA on various fire response types. With CFA we have used air modelling to predict how smoke from a fire at the property will behave. Air modelling is a computer-based tool that helps us simulate how smoke and other pollutants behave under different conditions. Based on this modelling, there is minimal risk from smoke to the town of Kaniva should a fire start at the property.

Illegal dump site south of Kaniva

Environmental monitoring and human health at the Kaniva dump site

Reviewed 26 April 2021