Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has fined Benalla particle board manufacturer Monsbent Pty Ltd (trading as D&R Henderson) more than $16,000 over two offences, including one that involved an explosion reported by a member of the public.
The second fine was for a monitoring plan that was inadequate to satisfy the conditions of the company’s EPA licence.
EPA North East Regional Manager Renee Palmer says the caller to EPA’s pollution hotline also described a plume of smoke rising from the premises.
“The explosion took place inside the facility, the local CFA Brigade was called to the premises and WorkSafe was notified, but the company did not report the incident to EPA,” Ms Palmer said.
“It’s a legal requirement for any company operating under an EPA licence to notify EPA of any breach of their licence conditions, and that is a clear responsibility, it’s in writing on their licence,” she said.
The company provided details when contacted by EPA officers, and EPA determined that the discharge of smoke and pressure during the incident is considered an unlicensed discharge to the air, something that must be reported to EPA.
The explosion and fire took place at about 1 pm, on 3 November 2020.
Under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Infringements Act 2006, the company has the right to have the decision to issue the infringement notice reviewed or alternatively to have the matter heard and determined by a court.
Members of the public can report pollution by calling EPA’s 24 hour hotline on 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).