New multi-million dollar fines for asbestos dumpers

Illegally dumping asbestos now carries a multi-million dollar fine under new laws passed by the NSW Government.

Previously, the maximum penalty for asbestos waste offenders were $44,000 for corporation and $22,000 for individuals. Under the new laws, these are now $2 million for corporation and $500,000 for individuals who illegally dispose, recycle or re-use asbestos waste.

Related stories:

Maximum court penalties for land pollution and waste offences involving asbestos have also been doubled to $2 million for corporations and $500,000 for individuals.

Managers and directors can also now be held accountable for offences committed by their companies under the new laws.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said illegally dumping asbestos is a serious crime, and the government wants dumpers to know there are tough penalties for those that break the law.

“The new laws also require the courts to consider the presence of asbestos when determining the magnitude of the penalty,” Ms Upton said.

“The massive fine hike comes on top recently announced tougher asbestos handling controls for waste facilities and a tenfold increase in on-the-spot asbestos fines for illegally transporting or disposing of asbestos waste,” she said.

NSW Asbestos Waste Strategy draft released

The NSW Government has released a draft of its Asbestos Waste Strategy, which aims to make it tougher to illegally dump asbestos and safer to remove it.

The NSW Government has released a draft of its Asbestos Waste Strategy, which aims to make it tougher to illegally dump asbestos and safer to remove it.

The strategy outlines new measures to close loopholes for transporters and increasing transparency of waste generators.

Related stories:

This includes tracking waste vehicles that transport asbestos with GPS tracking devices and increasing the risks and consequences of being caught illegally dumping asbestos.

Penalties for not complying with directions from the NSW EPA could be increased within a six-month timeline, with additional regulatory actions implemented to deter unlawful behaviour. Sentencing provisions would also be strengthened under the changes in the draft, with courts able to determine the monetary benefits gained through illegal business models and included within their sentencing decision.

To make legal disposal of asbestos easier, the draft outlines investigating the removal of the waste levy from separated bonded asbestos waste and implementing additional ways to properly dispose of wrapped asbestos.

The NSW EPA would also work with local councils and the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Activities to provide education and raise awareness to help change behaviours of householders and licensed asbestos removalists.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the government wants to make it easier and cheaper to do the right thing, strengthen regulation and penalties, close loopholes and disrupt illegal business models.

“The NSW Government is committed to reducing illegal dumping by 30 per cent by 2020 and this strategy is just one of the actions to fulfil that commitment,” Ms Upton said.

“In particular, we want to make the legal disposal of bonded asbestos cheaper and easier in NSW so the community and environment are safeguarded.

“Research commissioned by the EPA revealed the cost and inconvenience of legal disposal as major why asbestos is being illegally dumped,” she said.

Ms Upton said it is important that the community, local government and industry have a say on how asbestos waste is dealt with.

The draft of the NSW Asbestos Waste Strategy is available here, with consultations closing on 20 November 2018.

Funding announced for $700,000 Litter Innovation Fund applicants

Successful applicants for Round 2 of Sustainability Victoria’s $700,000 Litter Innovation Fund have been announced, including councils, businesses and not-for-profit organisations and social enterprises.

Grants were offered in two rounds and provided up to $20,000 for innovative solutions to litter and illegal dumping that are delivered through a partnership.

Related stories:

The package comprises of two funding streams, projects in the Yarra River and Port Philip Bay catchment and projects outside of these areas.

Successful applicants include Southern Cross Recycling Group, in partnership with the City of Whittlesea and Maribyrnong, for the Mobile Community Resource Recovery Hub, a purpose-built trailer that provides a collection point for small household items and clothing.

Monash City Council in partnership with Monash University have also been grated funding to assist the culturally and linguistically diverse student education project to reduce illegally dumped waste.

Boroondara, Nillumbik and Yarra City Councils have partnered with Connectsus to fund the Binasys project, which will install ultrasonic level sensor technology to provide a live demand profile of each public litter bin.

In an effort to tackle construction litter, Wydnham City Council, Wolfdene Property Development Group, Point Cook Open Spaces and Beach Patrol will use the funding to liaison with developers, builders and tradies using a pledge system.

EPA Victoria and VicRoads will assist the Macedon Ranges Shire Council to install infrastructure at identified hotspots to increase enforcement and behaviour change and reduce illegal dumping through education campaigns.

A roadside litter campaign will also be launched addressing litter from vehicles along major transport routes due to the funding provided to the Grampians Central West Waste and Resource Recovery Group, VicRoads and local government authorities.

EPA VIC to extend $6.5M program to tackle local waste issues

The Victorian EPA has extended its more than $6.4 million Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLE) pilot project for 13 council areas.

The program gives councils on-the-spot access to EPA capabilities and aims to build upon the EPA’s relationships with local governments to enable faster identification and resolution of smaller-scale waste issues.

Related stories:

It will now run for an additional seven months until 31 July 2019 to address issues such as dust, odour, waste dumping and stockpiling, littering and noise pollution.

OPLEs began training in September 2017 and have responded to 355 incident reports and completed 299 inspections as of 30 June 2018.

The councils selected include Port Philip, Casey, Greater Dandenong, Wyndham, Surf Coast, Mildura, Greater Shepparton, Wodonga, Loddon, Buloke, Central Goldfields, Brimbank and Hobsons Bay.

Waste dumping and stockpiling was a concern in Mildura while sediment run-off and littering at new residential housing developments was a focus for OPLES in Surf Coast, Wyndham, Shepparton and Wodonga.

EPA CEO Nial Finegan said the program allowed expertise to be shared between EPA and councils to make a difference to issues that affected local amenity and liveability the most.

“We’ve received great feedback from councils and residents about the impact the OPLEs are having,” he said.

“At its core, the project is about creating meaningful change on a local level and using education to drive compliance.

“We will not shy away, however, from imposing sanctions when proactive measures are not effective and environmental and public health is put at risk. And by partnering with councils, a greater range of sanctions are available to address all aspects of an issue.

Mr Finegan said the program was identified through the Independent Inquiry into the EPA.

“By addressing smaller problems, we can stop them becoming bigger problems,” he said.

“Protecting Victoria’s environmental and public health is everyone’s responsibility.

“We’re committed to empowering Victorians to become environmental leaders, in their homes, communities and businesses, and the OPLE project is a key part of that.”