In the largest recruitment of specialists in EPA Victoria’s history, more than 70 officers will join the new Waste Crime Prevention Inspectorate.
The major recruitment drive will hire forensic accountants to tackle illegal phoenix activity, surveillance officers, intelligence analysts and more environmental protection officers to reinforce the EPA’s “zero tolerance” approach to waste crime.
The Waste Crime Prevention Inspectorate will work with WorkSafe Victoria, Victoria Police, emergency services agencies, local government and other regulators to streamline intelligence sharing.
According to Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, the new officers will target activities like illegal waste dumping, the unsafe storage and transport of waste and landfill levy fraud.
“We are tackling waste crime head on. These new experts will detect, combat and help prevent waste crime, and hold waste criminals to account,” she said.
The recruitment drive follows an audit into the EPA’s systems and process relating to chemical waste management.
Released in May, the audit was promoted after more than six million litres of chemical waste was discovered stockpiled in several sites across northern and western Melbourne.
The audit found that the EPA has inadequate record keeping and failed to properly monitor the transport of hazardous waste.
In a statement addressing the findings, EPA Chief Executive Cathy Wilkinson said the challenges facing the EPA has evolved rapidly in recent years.
“Combating growing waste crime will require new technologies, intelligence capability and specialist surveillance experts,” she said.
“We are working more closely than ever before with Victoria Police and WorkSafe to protect the community from pollution and waste.”
The state government’s Recycling Victoria policy has committed $71.4 million to better detect, prevent, investigate and prosecute waste crime, with a further $11.5 million to be invested into new infrastructure to process high-risk and hazardous waste safely.
Additional initiatives include the introduction of an electronic waste tracking system to better monitor hazardous waste and using drones to detect illegal activity.