Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has fined a Wonthaggi skip bin hire company for failing to make its waste stockpiles meet fire safety rules.
EPA’s Gippsland Regional Manager Jessica Bandiera says EPA officers used an aerial drone to measure stockpiles from the air, at the Wheel-a-Waste site on Skip Lane, Dalyston.
“Victoria has clear stockpile size limits and requirements for buffer zones around them. Those rules are there to ensure fire risk is minimised, and in the event of a fire, to give CFA Brigades the access they need to fight them,” Ms Bandiera said.
“The company was given a chance to fix the problem when EPA issued it with a Pollution Abatement Notice (PAN) – a legally enforceable document setting out what must be done and giving a clear deadline – but when EPA officers returned, the company had not complied,” she said.
The inspection took place on 7 September 2020, the PAN was issued 10 days later, the deadline for compliance was 25 January 2021, but an inspection a few days later showed the stockpiles were still not compliant. The inspections were conducted in cooperation with officers from Officers from Bass Coast Shire Council and WorkSafe.
EPA has fined Wheel-a-Waste Pty Ltd $8,261.
“EPA takes a zero tolerance approach to fire risks and expects businesses to follow the rules and manage their risks to prevent fires from occurring,” Ms Bandiera said.
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 help EPA to reduce fire risk by reporting recycling sites that don’t comply with the regulations. If you see tightly packed, large or rapidly growing stockpiles at a recycling site near you, call EPA’s 24 hour pollution hotline, on 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).
Since the major fires of 2017, EPA has conducted more than 1000 inspections at 236 resource recovery facilities, issuing hundreds of regulatory notices and fines, working in partnership with other agencies.
The storage of waste is regulated under the Victorian Government’s Waste Management Policy (Combustible Recyclable and Waste Materials), which is available here: epa.vic.gov.au/for-business/find-a-topic/manage-industrial-waste/crwm#crwm-guideline