Court acts on Axcent Apartments

A Richmond company has learned a $500,000 lesson on the importance of managing contamination, following a Melbourne Magistrates Court decision on Monday 20 December 2021.

The court found developer Axcent Apartments Pty Ltd had failed to act on reports of soil and groundwater contamination at a development in 205 Burnley St, Richmond, ordering them to pay $500,000 on a site audit and remediation works; with any remaining funds going to charity.

The developer was allegedly aware of the unfavourable reports but went ahead with works despite that knowledge, with EPA taking action in December 2019 and issuing a clean up notice requiring the company to conduct an environmental audit of the site, investigate and assess the soil, soil vapour and groundwater contamination at the premises, determine the ecological and health risk of contamination at the premises and develop a clean up plan for the premises.

The court found Axcent failed to comply with the requirements of that notice and ordered it make a payment by 20 January 2022, to a special trust account set up for environmental audits and remediation works. The company was convicted, has been placed on a good behaviour bond until 28 June 2024 and must complete the environmental audit by 29 March 2022.

“EPA has shown this year, that it will pursue complex matters through the courts to enforce regulations and protect the environment,” said EPA CEO Lee Miezis.

“Axcent was provided with information it should have acted on but didn’t. It was given legal orders to take action in the interest of environmental safety but didn’t and now the court has determined it must pay to rectify its mistakes. That they must also publicise the court’s decision will be a further deterrent to any other organisation or individual thinking of acting in similar fashion.”

Mr Miezis said the court had ordered that any funds left from the trust fund would be allocated to a charity of EPA’s choice.

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