EPA Victoria publishes an Annual Compliance Plan (ACP) to inform business and community about work priorities for the year. EPA commits to goals and targets as part of the plan and publically reports on progress each quarter. This is the report for the first quarter of the 2013–14 ACP.
In this first quarter of 2013–14 EPA officers have inspected 750 sites, including over 370 inspections associated with pollution reports. Officers also served 153 remedial notices to address environmental issues. EPA has issued four official warnings and four penalty infringement notices of up to $7000 to individuals and businesses that have posed a risk to the environment or human health.
EPA licences are issued to sites that, due to the nature of their activities, pose a risk to the environment. Authorised officers will inspect at least 300 licensed sites over 2013–14 to check that businesses are complying with the conditions of their licences. EPA field teams planned to inspect these sites early in the year and had already completed 177 inspections by the end of the first quarter.
Following every inspection an EPA officer should provide an inspection report to the site operator, summarising the results of the inspection, any advice given and any future actions by EPA. The ACP target is for every inspected site with an identified operator to receive an inspection report. At the end of quarter one EPA has delivered reports to 97 per cent of inspected sites. This is a significant improvement on last year’s result of 88 per cent, but still an opportunity for improvement.
A remedial notice is a written statutory direction that requires, by law, the recipient to undertake works or activities to protect the environment. EPA has a goal to promptly follow up each remedial notice and either revoke it if the recipient has complied or escalate the notice for further action. In the first quarter of 2013–14 EPA escalated or revoked 95 per cent of notices within 28 days. This exceeded the ACP target of 90 per cent and EPA’s performance in 2012–13.
Closed landfills and PSR sites
Closed landfills can continue to pose significant risk to the environment if poorly managed. This year EPA will continue its project to review closed landfills and the notices in place to manage them. At the end of quarter one EPA officers have inspected 10 of the 30 closed landfills targeted for this year. EPA will also inspect 130 high-risk contaminated sites on the Priority Sites Register. At the end of September the priority sites had been selected and 10 inspected.
The public reports pollution through the EPA hotline, 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC), and the online Interaction Portal.
EPA officers review pollution reports to assess the risk to the environment based on the circumstances of the event and whether there have been any previous related incidents. Based on this assessment, our officers then decide on an appropriate response.
The ACP target is to attend 95 per cent of incidents that require immediate attendance and 90 per cent of those that require planned attendance. In the first quarter of 2013–14 EPA didn’t achieve those targets, attending only 89 and 83 per cent (respectively) of incidents. However, in another 11 per cent of immediate attendance incidents, trained EPA staff spoke to officers of other response agencies already in attendance, such as the Country Fire Authority, to manage the risk to the environment. This led to an appropriate response to environmental risk being provided in all of the most serious incidents, even when EPA officers did not directly attend.
The response procedure is being reviewed to help EPA meet the target in the future.
One of EPA’s key strategic focuses is to identify, investigate and prosecute businesses or persons carrying out large-scale and systematic illegal dumping.
This year EPA intends to issue more than 52 notices to require dumpers to cease their illegal activities and clean up the waste. In quarter one, EPA officers issued 19 remedial notices to address illegally dumped waste, such as building or demolition materials. EPA officers also inspected 12 premises associated with construction, demolition and skip-bin hire to ensure that their waste was correctly disposed of. Over the course of the year EPA intends to inspect another 88 similar businesses.
EPA is also developing a series of other operational strategies that will be implemented in later quarters.
Focus for future quarters
At the end of the first quarter of 2013–14 EPA is on the way to delivering the ACP and will focus on improving pollution response, issuing inspection reports in a timely manner and delivering projects to strategically address environmental issues.