EPA orders Tottenham metal recycler to cease accepting new materials

Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has issued a notice to Manhari Metals in Tottenham that requires the company to cease accepting any new recyclable waste materials at its Somerville Road site.

EPA has taken this action in response to non-compliance with requirements to reduce fire risks at the site.

During recent EPA inspections, officers found non-compliance with size limit requirements and minimum separation distances around stockpiles of scrap metal and combustible recyclable and waste materials. Investigations at the site are continuing and further penalties under the Environment Protection Act 1970 are possible.

There is also a notice in place that requires the company to cease accepting new materials at its Horsham site.

The metal recycling industry accepts scrap metal from multiple sources, including the automotive sector and construction. The scrap metal waste stream may also include other wastes such as foams, rubber, plastics, e-waste, batteries and oil and grease residues, which can increase the intensity of fires.

EPA Western Metropolitan Regional Manager Steve Lansdell said EPA officers identified the excessive stockpiles during inspections.

“The resulting regulatory notice gives the operator a clear list of the actions that must be undertaken to ensure compliance with regulations to reduce the risk of fires at the sites,” Mr Lansdell said.

“Compliance with required stockpile size limits and separation distances gives firefighters safer access and helps to contain any fire to a smaller area. Failure to comply brings the risk of a larger fire, more pollution of the air, land and waterways, and the potential for the fire to spread to neighbouring properties.”

The company can still process waste at the site while the notice is in place but will not be able to receive any new materials until EPA is satisfied that compliance with regulatory requirements has been achieved.

Regular inspections of the site are continuing, which includes staff on the ground and aerial drone flights over the company’s site to check on the stockpiles.

Mr Lansdell said that EPA will continue to take a zero-tolerance approach to fire risk in the waste and recycling industry and will take all appropriate regulatory action to protect the community and the environment.

“Fire risks at any recycling facilities are unacceptable and EPA expects all duty holders to manage their risks to prevent any fires from occurring,” Mr Lansdell said.

“EPA has also begun a new Fire Prevention Program that will see our officers use zero tolerance enforcement tactics and prevention measures to reduce the number and size of recycling fires.

“We are also asking the community to support EPA by reporting any recycling sites that may pose a high fire risk. If you see tightly packed, large or rapidly growing stockpiles at a metal recycling site near you please call EPA, anonymously if you chose, on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC).”

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