The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has warned offenders that attempts to obstruct or failure to co-operate with EPA officers carrying out investigations may result in serious consequences.
The warning comes after three men were convicted and fined by NSW local courts for refusing to co-operate with EPA officers investigating alleged waste crimes.
One man who refused to answer questions and made threats of violence against EPA officers investigating an alleged illegal dumping incident was convicted and fined $7,500 on 15 April 2021. Abdalah Hussein was also ordered to pay the EPA’s legal costs of $26,000 after pleading guilty to obstructing an EPA officer during an investigation.
A second case of failing to answer questions in a different EPA investigation into the transportation of asbestos waste and false weighbridge dockets resulted in a conviction for Drew Alexander Langford.
Mr Langford of TIPD Trading Pty Ltd was convicted, fined $1,500 and ordered to pay the EPA’s legal costs of $4,000 on 21 May 2021 by Parramatta Local Court.
Mohamed Ghama was convicted and fined $1,500 on 23 April 2021 by Parramatta Local Court after pleading guilty to failing to answer questions about alleged waste offences. Mr Ghama was also ordered to pay the EPA’s legal costs of $3,500.
EPA Chief Executive Officer Tracy Mackey welcomed the court decisions noting the cases were unrelated and that the convictions followed prosecutions by the EPA.
Ms Mackey said the EPA was committed to pursuing environmental offenders and would not hesitate to consider the prosecution of anyone who threatened violence or obstructed authorised officers.
“Refusing to co-operate will not stop EPA investigations but could result in criminal convictions and significant financial penalties for these individuals,” Ms Mackey said.
“The safety of our officers is our first priority and we will take action if our officers are threatened.
“EPA officers work hard to protect the community and the environment and it is against the law to wilfully delay or obstruct them from exercising their powers or to refuse to answer questions when directed to do so.
“The court decisions highlight that attempts to prevent our officers from undertaking their investigations may have serious consequences, including a criminal record for offenders.”
Prosecutions are one of a number of tools the EPA uses to achieve environmental compliance, including formal warnings, official cautions, licence conditions, notices and directions. See the EPA Compliance Policy for