Current issues

Illegal waste dump site near Kaniva

What happened

EPA has investigated an illegal waste dump at a large rural property, approximately 15 kilometres south of Kaniva. EPA has spent several months at the 1,400 acre property on the Kaniva-Edenhope Rd searching out suspected buried illegal waste.

What EPA is doing

EPA was first alerted by the police in July 2018. We have been investigating the illegal waste dump site since this date. EPA located 20 sites on the property with what we suspect are industrial waste containers buried underground. We used a new form of drone technology with Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR), a first for an Australian regulator, in the investigation.

EPA is working with Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water Corporation (GWMWater) to monitor groundwater. With the data collected, EPA has not found any groundwater impacts.

EPA has also assessed surface level vapour risks at the areas of suspected buried waste. This means testing for gasses that have escaped from underground and may be harmful, or pose a fire risk. The results indicate there is no vapour risk at these locations.

EPA’s role

Under the Environment Protection Act 1970, the person who dumped the waste must clean up the site.

A cleanup cost or timeframe is not yet available. To determine a cost, we need to know more about the waste. This includes what is in it, and exactly how much is there. We expect clean up to take some time. It will be a complex process.

Risks to human health and the environment

The safety of the community and our staff has been the EPA's priority throughout its investigation of this site. We are confident that the groundwater is showing no signs of contamination. EPA did not make public statements before assessments were complete, to avoid causing unnecessary concern for the community. This allowed us to learn more about the issues at the site. It has been an extensive investigation with more work to come.

The challenges included:

  • the size and remoteness of the premises
  • the natural geology
  • the potential areas where waste may be buried underground
  • analyzing the type and quantities of waste due to it being buried.

Next steps

EPA will:

  • take a precautionary approach and continue to monitor groundwater conditions through an expanded program
  • update the Kaniva community monthly through our website, e-mail and local newspapers.
  • continue to involve relevant authorities and immediate neighbours, and keep them informed of any issues and latest developments
  • continue to search for suspected buried waste and where safe to do so, identify the type of waste buried.

FAQs about the illegal waste dump site near Kaniva + Expand all Collapse all

  • Frequently Asked Questions about the illegal waste dump site near Kaniva

    1. When did the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) first attend the site of the illegal waste dump near Kaniva?

    The EPA first attended the site in 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, and is located approximately 15 kilometres south of Kaniva on the Kaniva-Edenhope Road, within the municipality of West Wimmera Shire Council.

    Using its precautionary powers, the EPA has conducted multiple inspections of the site, including a first ever use by an Australian regulator of Ground Penetrating Radar (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 size of the premises, natural geology and the potential areas where waste may be present has made the investigation challenging. Detailed analysis of the type and quantities of waste that has been dumped is not yet available, due to 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 the EPA’s priority throughout its extensive investigation of this rural property, located 15 kilometres south of the Kaniva township. The EPA has worked with Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water Corporation (GWMWater) to monitor the groundwater, which shows no signs of contamination.

    In addition, the 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?

    The EPA has gone to great lengths to manage this site and ensure public health is protected. This is a complex situation. The site is remote and large. The discovery of underground dump sites required the use of technology that is a first for an Australian regulator. Accessing the suspected buried containers is difficult, especially given the geology, access to the potential waste sites and the need to ensure the safety of the EPA’s officers.

    6. What is the EPA doing right now?

    The EPA continues to work with other relevant authorities to determine potential legal avenues that will result in those responsible for this illegal dumping of waste to be brought to account for their actions.

    EPA, with GWMWater, will continue to monitor the groundwater through an expanded program. Access to the remote site is limited and local Police are aware of the situation.

    7. Who pays to clean up the waste on the site?

    The Environment Protection Act 1970 allows the EPA to require certain classes of people, for example, people who appear to have abandoned or dumped industrial waste, to pay for clean-up measures reasonably required by the EPA. The EPA also has some power to conduct a clean-up 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 clean-up cost estimate?

    Not yet. A clean-up plan cannot be designed or costed until the full scale and nature of the suspected waste is confirmed.

Page last updated on 16 Aug 2019