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.