Multiple waste facilities have been blitzed by NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) compliance officers with coordinated and unannounced inspections conducted of a leading waste company following two chemical spills.
Over 50 EPA officers carried out simultaneous inspections of facilities at 27 locations including Homebush, Glendenning, Unanderra, Greenacre, Rutherford, Eastern Creek, Blacktown, St Marys, Penrith, Silverwater, Albury, Queanbeyan, Orange, South Windsor and Tamworth, on Monday 29 June.
The compliance operation follows two recent chemical spills at Cleanaway’s Queanbeyan operations. It is alleged one of those spills impacted the adjoining Molonglo River.
EPA officers inspected each licenced Cleanaway site for compliance with chemical storage requirements, stormwater runoff controls, pollution controls, emergency response plans and to ensure plant and equipment were properly maintained and operated.
NSW EPA CEO Tracy Mackey said as the environmental regulator the EPA was putting industry on notice that it would come down hard on any organisation not taking the proper care, or having the proper controls in place.
“We execute our strong powers to inspect unannounced and ask questions to ensure licensees are complying with their legal requirements to protect the environment,” Ms Mackey said.
“Monday’s highly coordinated inspections identified a number of matters that are being investigated by the EPA.
“Chemicals and waste can cause major environmental issues if not managed properly, which can be costly to clean-up and cause harm to human health and the environment.”
The 27 inspections identified issues with inappropriate chemical storage, poor maintenance of stormwater controls, as well as a number of other house-keeping matters which are being further investigated by the EPA.
The two chemical incidents at Cleanaway’s Queanbeyan business in May and June are still under investigation.
Ms Mackey said all operators are expected to run their business to the standard demanded by their environment protection licence and by the community.
“I want to assure the community that the EPA will take rapid action if the environment and the health of surrounding communities is put at risk.
“If the community knows about a waterway or land being polluted, we want to know about it, and we want to do something about it.”
The Cleanaway group of companies include waste management, processing and storage and resource recovery operations.
Note: Imagery is available