Assessing Planning Proposals Within the Buffer of a Landfill

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.

Victorian EPA issues works approval for e-waste recycling

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.

EPA approves Rural City of Wangaratta organic waste processing application

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.

EPA Victoria releases 2016-2017 Annual Report

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:

Hazelwood recovery

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

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

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

Pollution reports from community

10,577

9,201

9.376

10,490

10,400

Emergency reports

195

246

342

309

305

Business notifications

647

1,565

1,454

1,393

1,014

T otal

11,419

11,012

11,172

12,192

11,719

Total pollution reports by region

Metro

South Metro

South West

Gippsland

North West

North East

Not assigned

Total

Odour

1,801

1,260

455

198

293

147

34

4,188

Noise

942

248

193

70

47

50

63

1,613

Waste

582

322

151

107

135

115

63

1,475

Water

942

322

181

120

94

110

62

1,831

Dust

247

281

175

82

54

44

24

907

Smoke

125

120

182

60

28

27

21

563

Emergency reports

92

29

14

14

4

25

17

195

Business notifications

144

54

148

111

67

116

7

647

TOTAL*

4,875

2,636

1,499

762

722

634

291

11,419

*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. 

EPA and VicRoads to target waste transporters

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.