Court orders $100,000 to environmental program

Charges laid against George Weston Foods Ltd by Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) have resulted in a $100,000 boost for a local conservation group.

EPA charged the company after the spill allowed untreated wastewater to flow into a nearby creek on 19 February 2019 at the company’s Don KR Castlemaine facility at 64 Richards Rd, Castlemaine.

The company told EPA that the discharge of wastewater occurred because there was a failure with their trade waste pumps and associated alarm system, causing a trade waste pit to overflow into stormwater and run undetected into the creek.

George Weston Foods Ltd pleaded guilty in the Castlemaine Magistrate’s Court on Friday, to two charges of polluting waters of an unnamed tributary of Campbell’s Ck and for breaching an EPA licence condition.

The company was convicted and ordered to pay $100,000 to the Mount Alexander Sustainability Group Inc to support the Mount Alexander Regenerative Agriculture Program.

The program is working to increase awareness and adoption of land management practices that improve and protect the condition of soil, biodiversity and vegetation (amongst other agricultural pursuits).

George Weston Foods Ltd was ordered to publicise its offending in the Midland Express, Bendigo Advertiser and Castlemaine Mail newspapers and pay EPA’s costs of $10,000.

The company has also been placed on a 2 year undertaking to be of good behaviour.

Contaminated water was removed from the creek as part of the clean-up operation, and George Weston Foods Ltd has since made modifications to the premises to prevent any future spills.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Members of the public can report pollution by calling EPA’s 24 hour hotline on 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).

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