Waste Management Review Editor Toli Papadopoulos sat down with EPA Victoria and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning in late September to discuss what the new changes to the Environment Protection Act mean for waste industry regulation.
Resource Resolution Pty Ltd has applied to establish a $12 million commercial food waste processing facility which has the capability of producing biogas for energy.
The proposed facility would process 30,000 tonnes of liquid food waste a year and produce 2.4 megawatts of power.
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Resource Resolution also aims to recover organic matter for use as animal feed or to generate renewable energy with an anaerobic digestion facility.
Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria received the works approval for the site, planned to be located at 19 Winter Road, Girgarre.
Resource Resolution has proposed to use the Biogass Renewables AD system, which is currently used in Perth, WA. It is estimated that the bioenergy operation will process 23,382 tonnes of dairy, 3,475 tonnes of food products, 2,421 tonnes of fruit and vegetables and 722 tonnes of supermarket and grocery waste.
EPA Victoria’s assessment of the application will consider best practice technology, energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions and waste composition. It will also assess any potential risk to human health and the environment, including from emissions to air, noise, disposal of digestate, the waste water treatment system and operation contingencies.
An application for an amendment to the current planning permit is currently under assessment by Campaspe Shire Council.
Works approvals are required for industrial and waste management activities that have the potential for significant environmental impact.
In December, Cheryl Batagol was appointed Chairperson of the new Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA Victoria) Governing Board.
Ms Batagol has been Chair of the EPA, under the current governing structure, since 2009 and brings more than 40 years’ experience in waste management, water and environment sectors to the position.
Ms Batagol’s two-year appointment will take effect from 1 July 2018 when the new Governing Board commences and the new Environment Protection Act 2017 comes into effect.
The board will introduce five to nine members to oversee the authority and include people with a wide variety of skills.
The board will lead EPA Victoria through a period of transition and continue the work of the Victorian Government to implement its response to the Independent Inquiry into the EPA.
Recruitment for the remaining board members is currently underway, with more announcements to come this year.
The Victorian Government has invested $162.5 million over five years to reform and improve environment protection in the state.
Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA Victoria) has conducted surprise inspections at twelve skip bin hire companies across Melbourne.
EPA’s Illegal Waste Dumping Strikeforce spokesperson Chris Webb said the inspections were looking for evidence of activities that are giving the skip bin industry a bad name.
“EPA has targeted skip bin hire firms because the industry has attracted a number of operators who dump the waste illegally, often in our forests or on private land, which allows them to outcompete genuine skip bin businesses by avoiding paying the fees for proper disposal and recycling of the loads,” Mr Webb said.
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“The inspections have gone well, with EPA staff working in teams with Victoria Police and staff from Hume City Council.”
Mr Webb said the EPA has shared intelligence with the other agencies and are in communication with environment protection organisations in other states, as unscrupulous skip bin hire firms are a problem nationwide.
“There is a lot of waste being dumped in creeks and parks, in rented buildings and on private land, some of it including hazardous materials such as asbestos from construction and demolition sites around Melbourne,” Mr Webb said.
During the past two years, EPA has undertaken nearly 350 illegal dumping related inspections, issued more than 170 legal notices requiring a clean up, conducted prosecutions through the courts and issued Infringement Notices that represent a fine of nearly $8000 each.
The growth areas of Melbourne, such as the Cities of Hume, Brimbank and Whittlesea are the hotspots in the metropolitan area, and EPA is working with local councils there and wherever illegal dumping occurs.
Illegal dumping is a problem across the state particularly regional areas such as Bendigo, Mildura, Ararat and Geelong where dumping commonly occurs on farmland or on public land such as in state or national parks.
EPA says members of the public can help to clean up the skip bin industry by being savvy customers.
“Anyone hiring a skip bin should ask questions. If the price seems suspiciously cheap in comparison to other quotes, it may mean the real cost is being dumped on the community and attracting possible prosecution,” Mr Webb said.
EPA also encourages the community to watch out for suspicious activities – such as unusual truck movements at night, commercial properties or warehouses collecting piles of waste, or very cheap offers of waste removal – and to report it to EPA.
The agency has advice for skip bin operators on its website about the handling, transport and identification of industrial waste, contaminated soil, clean fill, organic matter, asbestos, acid soils, household rubbish and other likely contents of skip bins.
Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has released a new set of guidelines on assessing planning proposals within the buffer of landfills for planners, developers and councils.
The new EPA publication, titled Assessing Planning Proposals Within the Buffer of a Landfill, provides a technical guide to assist decision making around the level of assessment required to assess the risk of landfill gas migration impacting on a planning proposal. The advice in the guideline is consistent with and builds on the advice contained in the Best Practice Environmental Management: Siting Design, Operation and Rehabilitation of Landfills (the Landfill BPEM), using a staged, risk-based approach.
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EPA has finalised the updated guidelines after more than a year of consultation and a number of detailed submissions from planners and councils.
EPA’s Executive Director Assessments, Tim Eaton, said the 18-page publication is now available on the EPA website.
“The new guidelines are designed to make it easier to progress planning applications while protecting the community through compliance with Victorian legislation and planning provisions,” Mr Eaton said.
“It brings together technical detail and a ‘how to’ guide to assessing the impacts of a proposal and choosing the right mitigation measures,” he said.
The guideline, Assessing Planning Proposals Within the Buffer of a Landfill, looks at the need for buffers around landfill sites, and the legislation and Victorian Planning Provisions that apply to them, and provides a recommended approach to assessing planning proposals within the buffer of landfill sites.
The guideline also includes useful technical detail on the risk of landfill gas and odour impacts, mitigation measures and EPA’s role in landfill gas and odour assessment.
“The document includes useful appendices containing sample planning permit conditions and details of the qualifications required for environmental auditors, contaminated land specialists and Certification of Site Contamination Scheme practitioners,” Mr Eaton said.
Assessing Planning Proposals Within the Buffer of a Landfill (Publication number 1642) is available to read here.
Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has issued a works approval to a Campbellfield company for a facility that will allow it to recycle electronic waste (e-waste).
MRI (Aust) Pty Ltd was granted the works approval for the proposed Sydney Road facility, to manually disassemble e-waste, including nickel-cadmium (NiCad) batteries, into raw materials for resale.
EPA Development Assessments Manager Tim Faragher said the e-waste stream is growing up to three times faster than general municipal waste in Australia.
“The Victorian Government has committed to banning e-waste from landfill in Victoria and the number of e-waste re-processors is predicted to grow following the ban’s introduction,” Mr Faragher said.
“Both e-waste and processed e-waste materials must be handled and stored with due care in order to avoid leakage and the release of hazardous substances into air, water or soil.”
Mr Faragher said EPA’s assessment of the proposal had focused on key environmental issues including potential dust emissions and land and stormwater contamination.
“EPA’s assessment of the proposal focused on key environmental issues including potential dust emissions, land and stormwater contamination and ensuring that suitable controls were put in place,” Mr Faragher said.
Mr Faragher said more than 90 per cent of e-waste and batteries received by the site would be recycled with any residual waste sent to a facility licensed to receive it.
Works approvals are issued by EPA Victoria under the Environment Protection Act 1970. They are required for industrial and waste management activities that have the potential for significant environmental impact.
The company required an EPA works approval as under new regulations, e-waste treatment facilities with the capacity to reprocess more than 500 tonnes of specified electronic waste per year are considered scheduled premises.
The application was referred to City of Hume Council, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), WorkSafe Victoria and Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) for assessment and comment.
Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has granted a works approval to the Rural City of Wangaratta (Council) to construct an organic waste processing facility at its existing EPA-licensed landfill in the Victorian north-east region of North Wangaratta.
Council will construct a new facility within a 1.4-hectare portion of the Bowser landfill site that will compost up to 5200 tonnes per year of organic garden and food wastes.
The facility will operate Monday to Friday between 8am and 4.30pm.
The development includes the construction of:
- A roofed waste receival/shredding area;
- Seven concrete compost bunkers;
- A maturation area;
- Leachate collection and stormwater management infrastructure;
- Compost aeration management infrastructure;
- A 1.3 mega litre leachate storage pond; and,
- Connection of the leachate pond to the existing Bowser landfill for disposal to sewer.
The EPA said all works will be undertaken on a surface that prevents any escape of wastewater to the environment.
EPA Manager of Development Assessments Tim Faragher said the facility required an EPA works approval before construction works on the facility could occur.
“Works approvals are issued by EPA Victoria under the Environment Protection Act 1970. They are required for industrial and waste management activities that have the potential for significant environmental impact,” Mr Faragher said.
Mr Faragher said EPA completed a comprehensive assessment of council’s application that looked at possible noise, dust, wastewater and composting impacts that could occur as a result of the facility.
“It was determined that the site is suitably located with sufficient buffer and the application met all the requirements of the Environment Protection Act 1970 and relevant environmental policies,” Mr Faragher said.
Mr Faragher said the application was made publicly available and received two submissions, both of which were considered in EPA’s final decision.
Environment Protection Authority Victoria’s (EPA) 2016-2017 Annual Report has been tabled in the Victorian Parliament.
Upon its release, the EPA described the year as the beginning of its most comprehensive reform and transformation program since its establishment in 1971.
EPA Acting Chief Executive Officer, Tim Eaton said the reform program would ensure EPA was equipped to deal with emerging challenges such as growing pressure on Victoria’s landscape, waterways and air from population growth, our changing economy and climate change.
“In 2016-17, we developed a five-year plan – Our environment, our health, to guide our work and ensure we deliver the greatest possible service for Victorians and their environment. This plan sets our strategic direction and will help EPA become a more modern and agile organisation and a world-class regulator of pollution and waste.”
Mr Eaton said that in 2016-17 EPA continued to provide a strong frontline response to local pollution and waste issues and emergency incidents.
Over the past year, the EPA received more than 10,000 pollution reports and almost 200 emergency notifications. The EPA also implemented a new incident response system that integrates its environmental public health function, and further developed Victoria’s incident air monitoring service.
It can now deploy indicative air monitoring equipment to an incident anywhere in Victoria within four hours of notification, improving community access to air quality and health information during emergency incidents.
Some of the EPA’s initiatives in 2016-17, include:
EPA continued to implement the recommendations from the 2014 Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry and deliver on its commitment to support the Latrobe Valley community through recovery. In September 2016, EPA initiated a co-design process to work with the community on a new air monitoring network for the region. This process enabled members of the community to design network enhancements with support from air quality experts. The new network is expected to be operational by June 2018.
Environmental public health function
The EPA became responsible for providing Victorians with environmental public health advice after this function was transferred from the Department of Health and Human Services. This fulfilled one of the Victorian Government’s early EPA reform commitments and created a consolidated and enhanced environmental health capability for Victoria within EPA.
Victoria’s first Chief Environmental Scientist
EPA’s new environmental public health function was further strengthened through the appointment of Victoria’s first Chief Environmental Scientist, Dr Andrea Hinwood, in May 2017.
Contamination at shooting ranges
The agency began investigating potential environmental and human health risks posed by outdoor shooting ranges. This work followed the discovery of lead contamination above the health limits for recreational levels in soil at the North Wangaratta Recreation Reserve in April 2016.
Emerging contaminants are an increasing focus for EPA. In 2016-17, the agency hosted a summit of international environment experts and regulators on per-and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) and is now leading the development of a PFAS National Management Plan.
Mr Eaton noted that figures showed an increase in pollution reports in 2017 and he urged the public to continue to use the 1300EPA VIC (1300 372 842) 24-hour hotline to report suspected pollution events
“The public are our eyes and ears and the best resource we have to detecting and responding to pollution and waste incidents in real-time,” he said.
Total pollution reports
Pollution reports from community
Total pollution reports by region
*291 pollution reports were not allocated by 30 June 2017. Source: EPA Victoria
A full copy of the EPA 2016-2017 Annual Report is available on their website.
Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) and VicRoads are reminding waste transporters to ensure their vehicles are roadworthy and comply with waste transport laws, as the regulators begin joint roadside operations across the state.
Commencing this week, the joint operations follow the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding which will see VicRoads officers gather intelligence on behalf of EPA during inspections of vehicles transporting hazardous waste known as prescribed industrial waste (PIW).
Under this agreement, EPA authorised officers will also conduct roadside inspections in conjunction with VicRoads to assess vehicle compliance.
EPA Executive Director of Regulatory Practice and Strategy, Chris Webb, said the transport of PIW is a priority area of EPA’s Illegal Dumping Strikeforce – a program developed to reduce the dumping of industrial waste.
“PIW waste must be transported appropriately to ensure the safety of drivers as well as the broader community and the environment,” Mr Webb said.
“If you hold an EPA permit to transport PIW, it’s your responsibility to know what type of waste you’re transporting and that the location you’re taking it to can lawfully accept it. Relying on the advice of waste facility managers or contractors is no defence.
“Complying with waste management and transport laws is pretty simple and transporters need to understand their obligations and operate within the law. Failure to do so can lead to fines of up to $373,104 and loss of your vehicle permit.”
Mr Webb said EPA authorised officers will check waste vehicles have the proper signage and authorizations to transport different types of waste. Vehicles will also be checked for compliance against the vehicles permit conditions.
“EPA’s new partnership with VicRoads not only enables us to pool resources out in the field, but also facilitates the exchange of information and intelligence. While subject to privacy and confidentiality laws, this information sharing strengthens our ability to identify high-risk vehicles quickly and act,” he said.
VicRoads Director Heavy Vehicle Services, Eric Henderson said that compliance with the requirements of EPA and the transport of PIW in Victoria is paramount to achieving road safety.
“VicRoads warns heavy vehicle operators to ensure their fleet is well maintained and roadworthy,” Mr Henderson said.
In 2016, EPA released Super PIW Bros – an animation that explains the process for transporting PIW waste. To watch the video, or for more information on transporting waste, visit EPA’s website.