Hefty fine for contaminated dump at primary school

A court case involving more than 100 loads of asbestos-contaminated waste dumped at a Victorian primary school has ended with a conviction and a $285,000 fine.

EPA Victoria (EPA) charged Concrete Concepts (Vic) Pty Ltd with pollution of land and dumping asbestos-contaminated material at an unlicensed site, after the company was contracted to build a soccer pitch at Syndal South Primary School.

EPA told the court the company was contracted in 2015 to build a soccer pitch based on clean fill, but instead the company brought in more than 100 loads contaminated with asbestos and other waste including bricks, pipes, glass, electrical cables and metal.

Department of Education and Training then engaged licensed asbestos removalists, who removed more than 5,800 tonnes of asbestos contaminated material at a cost of $1.5 million. It took nearly two years and the school lost the use of a playground, wetlands area and running track.

EPA CEO Lee Miezis said the case is a warning to any potential offender that any offence they commit can be reported easily by any Victorian.

“In this case, it was the vigilance of a school community that had every right to see the job done properly, but it could just as easily have been any passing Victorian who saw suspicious activity and called it in,” Mr Miezis said.

“EPA receives 13,000 calls a year from the public. Not every one of them results in a court case, but along with our proactive inspections and a system of permissions that requires responsible businesses to report any breaches, they give EPA a powerful system of intelligence gathering,” he said.

“Calls can be kept confidential, and they leave many offenders with nowhere to hide.”

Members of the public can report pollution by calling EPA’s 24 hour hotline on 1300 372 842 or providing details online at epa.vic.gov.au/report-pollution/reporting-pollution

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

The case was heard on 8 August 2022, in the Melbourne Magistrate’s Court.

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