1. When did the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) first attend the site of the illegal waste dump south of Kaniva?
EPA has been investigating this site since July 2018, after it was referred by the police.
2. What have you found at the site?
The site is a large rural property, 1400 acre in size. It is located approximately 15 kilometres south of Kaniva near Lemon Springs, on the Kaniva-Edenhope Road, within the municipality of West Wimmera Shire Council.
Using its precautionary powers, EPA has conducted multiple inspections of the site, including a first ever use by an Australian regulator of GPR using drones. The inspections to date have located 20 underground dump sites.
3. What type of waste have you found illegally dumped at the site?
The EPA has located what it suspects are industrial waste containers buried underground at the site. The investigation is challenging because of:
Detailed analysis of the type and quantities of the waste that has been dumped is not yet available, because of their location underground.
4. What risk does the waste at the site pose to the community and the environment?
The safety of the community has been EPA’s priority throughout its extensive investigation. It is located 15 kilometres south of the Kaniva township, near Lemon Springs. EPA has worked with GWMWater to monitor the groundwater, which shows no signs of contamination.
In addition, EPA has assessed surface level vapour risks at the areas identified as possible sites of buried waste. The results indicated there is no vapour risk.
5. Why is the investigation taking a long time?
EPA has gone to great lengths to manage this site to protect public health. This is a complex situation. The site is remote and large. The discovery of underground dump sites required the use of new technology not used by an Australian regulator. Accessing the suspected buried containers is difficult because of:
6. What is the EPA doing right now?
EPA has taken a further step in the ongoing legal process. It has issued the owner of the property, Mr White, a clean up notice (CUN). This is a legally enforceable notice.
EPA is also continuing to monitor compliance with the Clean Up Notice it issued to the owner of the property, Mr Graham White. Mr White has not met all conditions of the notice and any failure to comply with the requirements is managed in accordance with EPA’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy.
EPA, with GWMWater, will continue to monitor the groundwater through an expanded program.
Please see this fact sheet prepared by GWMWater for more information on Kaniva's groundwater supply.
EPA will also undertake excavation works at some of the suspected sites of illegally dumped waste. Sub-soil testing will take place.
7. Who pays to clean up the waste on the site?
The Environment Protection Act 1970 allows EPA to require certain classes of people, for example, people who appear to have abandoned or dumped industrial waste, to pay for cleanup measures reasonably required by EPA. EPA also has some power to conduct a cleanup itself, in which case, it may be able to seek compensation from a person who caused the waste to be dumped.
8. Is there a cleanup cost estimate?
Not yet. A cleanup plan cannot be designed or costed until the full scale and nature of the suspected waste is confirmed.