NSW Govt cracks down on asbestos waste

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 initiated a crackdown on asbestos waste, introducing stronger measures to protect the community and environment from rogue construction and demolition waste operators.

A reform package has been announced and will increase on the spot fines for illegally transporting or disposing of asbestos waste by tenfold.

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Construction and demolition waste facilities will also face tougher inspections and handling rules, along with new fines for illegally digging up landfills.

Under the changes, construction and demolition waste facilities will have tighter inspection controls and constant video monitoring. Facilities must also comply with stringent waste storage rules and provide evidence that staff are properly trained.

Incentives are also available for those doing the right thing, with a 75 per cent levy discount for some types of construction and demolition waste that meets specification to be applied as cover material.

The changes were introduced in the Protection of the Environment Operations Legislation Amendment (Waste) Regulation 2018, which will come into effect in May 2019 to allow the industry time to adjust.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said it is a top priority that stronger penalties act as a deterrent and that waste facility operators improve the way they manage construction and demolition waste.

“By giving the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) stronger penalties, it can more effectively hold the waste industry to account as well as encouraging good behaviour.

“On the spot fines for illegal asbestos transport and disposal have increased from $750 for an individual and $1,500 for a corporation to $7,500 and $15,000.

Ms Upton said the reforms follow comprehensive consultation with local councils, waste facility operators, industry bodies and the community.

“Poor practices were identified particularly at a number of facilities handling construction waste. That is why there are now tougher standards and procedures to safeguard the environment and community.”

“There is also a new, $15,000 on-the-spot fine and penalties of up to $44,000 for illegally digging up old landfills. From now on, landfills can only be dug up in cases of emergency or with specific permission of the EPA,” she said.

$2.5 million grants for landfill management: EPA NSW

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Environmental Trust have invited local councils to apply for a share of $2.5 million in grants to improve landfills across the state.

The grants, available under the third round of the Regional Landfill Consolidation and Environmental Improvements program, are designed to assist councils in improving landfills and reducing their impact on the environment.

They are available to councils in regional and rural areas in NSW with projects due to commence in 2018 and due for completion by 2019. The funding is via a contestable grants program administered by the Environmental Trust.

The funding is divided into two streams: Stream 1 is available to councils to consolidate and close landfills and establish transfer stations while Stream 2 is available for improvements including fencing and security measures. Both streams aim to support local councils in improving environmental performance of landfills and minimising the impact on the environment.

Following on from Round 1 and 2, 31 landfills in regional NSW have been closed with a further 63 receiving funding for improvements under Stream 2. Previous grant recipients Parkes and Greater Hume have successfully received funding to cap, close or consolidate landfills. Tenterfield Council was successful in receiving $187,000 from the Trust to close four landfills in their region and establishing three supervised transfer stations.

Under Stream 2, councils have been able to use the funding to undertake important improvement works. Bourke Council received $44,000 to fence and improve signage at four remote landfills. Gilgandra Shire Council received $55,000 to increase security and prevent unauthorised access and Bogan Shire Council received $49,000 to install fencing to limit access and control litter at the Nyngan Waste Management Facility.

Up to $200,000 each is available to rural and regional councils which manage licensed and unlicensed landfills, with the grant providing up to 70 per cent of the costs identified for the project. The remaining 30 per cent would be covered by council in-kind or financial contributions.