New powers to stop polluters for EPA Victoria

New laws have been passed in Victoria which have given the EPA powers to stop pollution and protect the state’s environment.

The Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2018 has introduced a criminally enforceable General Environment Duty which requires people conducting activities that pose a risk to human health and the environment from pollution to take responsible steps to eliminate or reduce them.

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It aims to move the focus to prevention, rather than responding to pollution after it has occurred.

The Bill substantially increases maximum penalties to better reflect the seriousness of environmental offences.

The reforms have also delivered improved clarity and flexibility, including reforms to EPA licensing and the environmental audit system.

A range of measures have been introduced to assist the EPA’s ability to protect the environment, including strengthening powers of EPA Authorised Officers to enter premises and investigate suspected breaches of the law.

Community members have also been given the ability to seek civil remedies to enforce the Environment Protection Act and regulations.

The new laws will come into effect on 1 July 2020, which will allow time to develop the regulations and guidance required to support the new laws.

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the historic reforms were developed carefully over a number of years and will help Victoria’s environment for generations to come.

“We’re making sure Victoria’s EPA is equipped with the people, powers and resources it needs to do its job and protect Victoria’s environment,” she said.

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.

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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.”

VWMA 2018 State Conference wrap-up

This year’s Victorian Waste Management Association State Conference addressed all the key issues impacting the state’s waste and resource recovery sector, including changes to the EP Act and the government’s stockpiling taskforce.

This year’s Victorian Waste Management Association State Conference addressed all the key issues impacting the state’s waste and resource recovery sector, including changes to the EP Act and the government’s stockpiling taskforce.

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EPA VIC consider application for $12M waste to energy facility

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.

EPA VIC hold public meeting for waste to energy facility

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria will hold a public meeting after receiving a works approval application from Australian Paper to develop a large-scale waste to energy facility.

The facility is proposed to be co-located within the boundaries of the Australian Paper site in Maryville, Latrobe Valley.

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Australian Paper propose the facility would accept and use an estimated 650,000 tonnes a year of municipal solid waste and commercial and industrial waste from the Melbourne and Gippsland regions.

In order to begin works, a works approval is required from EPA for any waste management activities that have the potential for significant environmental impacts.

EPA Director of Development Assessments Tim Faragher said EPA Victoria will now hold a section 20B Conference under the Environmental Protection Act 1970 to ensure it understands the views of the community regarding the works approval application.

The Section 20B Conference will be independently chaired and a report produced detailing key issues and possible solutions raised in written submissions and at the conference. This report, which will be made available online, will be used by EPA to inform its decision on whether or not to approve the works approval application,” he said.

The conference will be held on 25 July 2018 at the Premier Function Centre, 29 Grey Street, Traralgon at 6pm.

Waste and recycling receive $196M in NSW Budget

The NSW Government has received $162 million more than expected from its waste and environmental levy, while at the same time committing $196 million reduce waste, strengthen recycling and protect the health of the environment in its 2018-19 state budget.

According to the budget papers, the government received a revised $727 million from its waste and environment levy, which it attributes to strong construction sector activity.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority budget for 2018-19 includes $70 million to improve waste management and resource recovery, $8 million for the management of contaminated land and $5 million for asbestos management and emergency clean-up.

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NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the budget provides support for programs and initiatives to reduce litter and waste, while also strengthening recycling and tackling illegal dumping.

“Diverting waste from landfill is a key priority and the NSW Government has set targets to increase the diversion of waste from landfill from 63 per cent in 2014-15 to 75 per cent by 2021,” Ms Upton said.

“The Premier has also made it a priority to reduce the volume of litter in NSW by 40 per cent by 2020, achieved through Return and Earn, Hey Tosser and council and community litter prevention grants.”

In March, a $47 million support package was also announced for the local government and industry to respond to China’s National Sword policy.

“The support package provides a range of short, medium and long-term programs to ensure kerbside recycling continues and to promote industry innovation.”

Ms Upton said there is also funding for the emergency clean-up of asbestos, managing James Hardie Asbestos legacy sites at Parramatta and support for the Broken Hill Lead program and the management of PFAS.

VIC EPA Governance Board appointments finalised

The remaining appointments to the new Victorian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) governing board have been announced by Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio.

The board members have been selected for their skills and knowledge of their roles and will be key to implementing the state government’s EPA reform agenda, according to the Victorian Government.

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Ms Cheryl Batagol will be chair of the governing board and will lead and eight-person board that includes:

  • Mr Greg Tweedly (Deputy Chair)
  • Professor Joan Ozanne-Smith
  • Mr Graeme Ford
  • Professor Rebekah Brown
  • Ross Pilling
  • Ms Monique Conheady
  • Ms Debra Russell.

Ms Batagol has been Chair of the EPA under the current governing structure since 2009. She brings more than 40 years of experience in waste management, water and environment sectors to the positions.

The Board will come into operation on 1 July and will lead the EPA in implementing its response to the Independent Inquiry into the EPA.

Ms D’Ambrosio said the Victorian Government is making sure the EPA is equipped with the people, powers and resources it needs to do its job and protect Victoria’s environment.

“This board has a fantastic cross section of experience and knowledge to help us implement our vital reforms to the EPA,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

SA EPA begin Operation Cover-Up

The SA Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has begun a targeted operation on truck drivers who aren’t properly covering their waste in transport.

Operation Cover-Up has observed 25 travelling on Port Wakefield Road on the first day of action, all of which were found to be compliant.

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SA EPA Acting Manager Investigations and Waste Tania Kiley said it is promising that these transporters are adhering to the law.

“This is a positive sign that truck drivers and waste companies are getting the message. Failing to properly cover waste while transporting material to waste management facilities poses a health and safety risk to the community,” Ms Kiley said.

“The type of waste found in waste vehicles includes demolition material amongst other waste items.”

“This can create a hazard for other road uses, the community, and can also lead to waste ending up in our stormwater and local waterways,” she said.

The maximum penalty for the offence is $30,000 or an expiation fee of $160.

“The EPA will be continuing Operation Cover-Up in coming weeks and those that do not comply with their obligations under the Environment Protection Act will be issued an expiation notice,” Ms Kiley said.

“We began our operation on Port Wakefield Road this year in response to numerous community complaints about litter on public roadways,” she said.

“Other areas across metropolitan Adelaide will also be targeted to ensure compliance with general waste transport provisions of the Environment Protection (Waste to Resources) Policy 2010,” she said.

The SA EPA has encouraged anyone who sees transporters failing to cover their load while travelling, to call the EPA Hotline on 08 8204 2004.