EPA VIC puts compost operation on hold

EPA Victoria has instructed an Epping compost facility to cease accepting waste until it makes its stockpiles comply with EPA fire safety requirements.

According to EPA Northern Metropolitan Regional Manager Jeremy Settle, stockpiles of green waste on the site were too big and did not have the necessary separation distances cleared around them.

“Suez Recycling & Recovery should know its responsibilities. There have been several fires on the site in recent years, and the size and separation distance requirements are all about limiting the size of fires and making them easier to extinguish if they occur,” he said.

“EPA takes a zero-tolerance approach to fire risk in the waste and recycling industry and will take all appropriate regulatory action to protect the community and the environment.”

Firefighters called in the EPA when a fire broke out at the Cooper St, Epping premises on 13 February, and while the fire was quickly contained, EPA officers found several nearby stockpiles of green waste on the site presented an additional hazard.

“Those stockpiles did not comply with EPA requirements for their size or the amount of clear space they must have between any stockpile and nearby buildings, property boundaries or other combustible waste,” Settle said.

“Failing to comply with those regulations can confront firefighters with a huge, burning stockpile that leaves no way to get in and attack it from more than one side.”

Settle added that the EPA’s Combustible Recyclable Waste Management guideline 1667.2 and the Waste Management Policy 2018 set out clear requirements for the protection of the community and the environment.

“EPA has required Suez to take a series of remedial actions over the past three years and while there has been some improvement, another fire combined with non-compliance with those fire control requirements is just not acceptable, so we have issued the company with a Cease to Accept notice,” he said.

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