Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has fined a Andrew Peace Wines Pty Ltd for dumping and burning industrial waste on its property on the Murray Valley Highway at Piangil.
EPA North West Regional Manager Dr Scott Pigdon says the company has been issued with an official Clean Up Notice requiring it to remove the waste.
“EPA officers inspecting the property found open pits containing large amounts of industrial waste including wire, tin sheeting and other metals, bricks, wooden pallets, mattress springs, 200 litre drums and other containers, glass, and Intermediate Bulk Container shells,” Dr Pigdon said.
“The site is not licensed to accept that waste, and there was also evidence that waste had been burnt, creating the potential to emit toxins to the air and soil in the immediate area,” he said.
“The waste should have been sent for disposal or recycling at a facility that has the appropriate licence from EPA or permit from the local Council.”
The company, Garacama Pty Ltd, trading as Andrew Peace Wines Pty Ltd, has been fined $8,261 for contravening Section 27A(2)(a) of the Environment Protection Act 1970.
“This is a first offence for the company but the behaviour has clearly been going on for some time.” Dr Pigdon said.
“All businesses have clear responsibilities to the environment and the community, and if they don’t meet those responsibilities EPA will take regulatory action to bring their activities into compliance with the law.”
Members of the public can report pollution by calling EPA’s 24-hour hotline on 1300 EPA VIC (1300 372 842).
EPA officers inspected the property at 4077B Murray Valley Highway, Piangil, on 2 June 2020, after conducting a drone flight over the site which identified pits containing dumped material.
Officially known as a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) the EPA drone is a sophisticated relative of the drones used by enthusiasts and enables EPA to conduct aerial surveillance and evidence gathering.
The RPAS program also allows EPA officers to investigate areas which are difficult to reach on foot or by vehicle, and to detect areas where waste may have been buried illegally.
EPA has Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) certification to operate the program and abides by CASA regulations requiring licensees to keep their RPAS more than 15m away from people.
RPAS must also be operated within line of sight and cannot be flown over populous areas, making them suitable for use in more remote locations.
Under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Infringements Act 2006, the company has the right to have the decision to issue the infringement notice reviewed or alternatively to have the matter heard and determined by a court.