Comment sought for VIC EPA regulations and standards

The Victorian EPA is calling for public consultation on their revised environmental regulations and standards, which apply from July 2020.

According to EPA Executive Director Tim Eaton, the new regulations and standards are part of the Victorian Government’s modernisation of the EPA, through the recently passed Environment Protection Act.

“The new act and regulations will give the EPA more power to prevent pollution and hold polluters to account,” Mr Eaton said.

“Where the new act lays out the increased powers and responsibilities, the regulations and standards fill in the details and create certainty for duty holders to meet their obligations.”

Mr Eaton said the draft regulations outline obligations in relation to environment protection, pollution incidents, contaminated land and waste.

“As an example, the new act allows the EPA to require duty holders to be licensed, permitted or registered,” Mr Eaton said.

“The regulations then provide the detail of what activities will require a licence, permit or registration.”

The EPA and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning will review all public submissions, before releasing a public report that includes submission responses and final regulations and standards.

“We want to hear from community groups, industry, small business operators, anyone with an existing EPA licence, environmental lobby groups or any other member of the public or industry with an interest in the environment protection laws,” Mr Eaton said.

“Have your say on proposed regulations and standards that relate to waste, permissions and licences, water, noise, air and contaminated land.”

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EPA VIC to consider waste to energy plant

A large-scale waste to energy plant could be on the way for Victoria, as manufacturing company Australian Paper has lodged a works approval application with Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria.

The facility is proposed to be co-located within the boundaries of the Australian Paper site in Maryvale, 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. Waste will be collected from the existing waste collection network and transferred to the site via road and rail.

The proposed plant would generate both steam and electricity which can be used in the papermill to power its operations or exported to the grid. The plant would replace two existing gas-fired boilers and produce around 30 megawatts electric and 150 tonnes per hour of steam.

EPA Executive Director Assessments Tim Eaton said the application is the first in Victora for a large-scale energy from waste plant using municipal solid waste.

“EPA invites the community and interested parties to review the application and make submissions which will be considered in EPA’s assessment of the application,” he said.

“EPA’s assessment of the application will consider issues such as use of best practice technology, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions, waste fuel composition, compliance with waste hierarchy, environmental management and potential risks to human health and the environment including emissions to air, noise, disposal of fly ash, the wastewater treatment system, and operational contingencies.”

Members of the community have until 27 June to lodge submissions to the EPA.

The application and a summary of it can be found here.

National Plan for PFAS released to protect environment and health

The heads of all state and territory EPAs and the Federal Government have released a National Environment Management Plan for PFAS (per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances) to help protect the environment and human health.

PFAS are a group of manufactured chemicals which have historically been used in firefighting foams and other industrial and consumer products for decades, according to EPA Victoria. PFAS can also be found in soil, surface water and groundwater in urban areas, and some PFAS are being phased out around the world as they may pose a risk to human health and the environment.

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The National Environment Management Plan for PFAS describes how to properly deal with and clean up contaminated sites, how to best treat soil and waste, and methods for safely destroying the chemicals.

PFAS can make products heat resistant, non-stick, water repellent, and weather and stain resistant.

Prior to the plan, there was no consistent guidance or direction for communities that had been affected by PFAS.

Environment Protection Authority Victoria’s Executive Director Assessments, Tim Eaton, said PFAS chemicals have been used in a range of products in the past, including pesticides, stain repellents and fire-fighting foams.

“PFAS compounds have had a wide range of uses because they resist heat, chemical and biological degradation, and are very stable,” Mr Eaton said.

“There is now growing concern worldwide about the effects of PFAS on our health and on animals and plants, because of that chemical stability and the fact that they easily enter the environment, moving into soil, creeks, rivers and lakes. We know there are sites with PFAS contamination, so we are working collectively to manage them.”

The plan can be read here.

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.