Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has ordered a Coolaroo recycling facility to cease accepting combustible recyclable and waste materials for a third time until it implements measures to reduce the fire risks associated with stockpiles at its site.
The company, Phoenix Environmental Group Pty Ltd, was issued the notice after an EPA inspection of the site found large stockpiles of waste and recyclable materials that presented a significant risk of fire and would be difficult to extinguish.
EPA Manager of the Resource Recovery Facilities Audit Taskforce, Danny Childs, said the company processes construction and demolition (C&D) waste, including timber, plasterboard, foam, insulation, cardboard, plastic and metals.
“This is the third time the company has failed to comply with the Victorian Waste Management Policy that was introduced in August 2017. The company is well aware of its obligations to meet the requirements of the policy to ensure any risks to local communities or the environment are reduced,” Mr Childs said.
“The company has failed for a third time to keep its stockpiles in check. If it fails to comply with the EPA notice, it faces a fine of up to $49,566 plus a further fine of $8,261 for each day the offence continues. EPA is also undertaking further investigations of the company to determine if any breaches of the Environment Protection Act 1970 have occurred and is looking at further compliance and enforcement action available under its powers.”
Mr Childs said that under the notice issued by EPA to Phoenix Environmental, the company is able to process materials currently on site to allow it to return its stockpiles to compliance with the Victorian Waste Management Policy but it cannot receive any new materials to the site.
“EPA officers will undertake a strong inspection regime to ensure no breaches of the notice occur. The company will only be able to return to business as usual once EPA is confident the company has regained compliance with the Victorian Waste Management Policy,” Mr Childs said.
Mr Childs said EPA officers had found loose stockpiles of combustible recyclable waste material at the premises without adequate separation distances between stockpiles and buildings or property boundaries.
“The size and contents of the stockpiles, inadequate separation distances and the potential sources of ignition increase the fire risks dramatically. Burning plastics, foam and polystyrene would create toxic gases and a great deal of smoke, and fire water runoff could contaminate local waterways,” Mr Childs said.
“When we inspect recycling businesses’ premises, we expect them to comply with the Victorian Waste Management Policy and they can expect a zero-tolerance approach from EPA if non-compliance is found.”