Geelong recycler told to stop accepting combustible timber waste

An alleged failure by Geelong recycler NATJON Pty Ltd to meet the requirements of the Victoria Waste Management Policy (Combustible Recyclable and Waste Materials) has seen Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) issue the company a notice that requires it to immediately stop accepting combustible recycling materials, make some short term changes to stockpiles based on advice from CFA and bring the site into compliance with the policy.

Carolyn Francis, Regional Manager, EPA South West Region, said that the site was also the subject of a fire on 24 March 2019, which emergency services attended.

“Thankfully, the fire on 24 March 2019 was contained to one pile of mulch through the excellent work of CFA and did not spread,” Ms Francis said.

Ms Francis said that stockpiles of combustible timber waste held by NATJON at its Staceys Rd, Lovely Banks site could pose a significant challenge for fire services.

“EPA has issued a notice that requires NATJON to stop accepting any further combustible recyclable waste material at the site. We will revoke the notice when EPA is satisfied that the company is complying with Victoria’s Waste Management Policy.”

The unsafe stockpiles were detected through the Victorian Government’s Resource Recovery Facilities Audit Taskforce, which has been auditing recycling facilities to identify non-compliance, including the stockpiling of materials that pose a fire risk to community safety and the environment.

Ms Francis said the guidelines regarding the management and storage of combustible recyclable and waste materials were established to reduce the risk of fire, and the impacts of smoke and fire water run-off.

“They cover issues including separation distances, firefighting facilities, staff training, emergency management planning and preventative behaviours including regular inspections and hazard identification,” Ms Francis said.

“The Waste Management Policy was introduced in August 2017 giving industry ample time to understand how to be compliant with it.”

Ms Francis said EPA takes a zero-tolerance approach to non-compliance against the Waste Management Policy requirements and expects the recycling industry to take its compliance obligations seriously.

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