Calls for a statewide Asbestos register to stop regional dumping

(Photo: GMS Lilliimur)

Regional dumping of hazardous and toxic waste is on the increase in Victoria with high profile sites such as Lara and Lilllimur at the forefront of the deadly practice.

The illegal dump at Lillimur is under Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) investigation after it caught fire back in May and sent plumes of toxic smoke across the region.

The site is located 15 Kilometres from the South Australian border and the dumping of such material in remote geographical areas is becoming more common across Victoria.

The EPA also managed the clean up of an illegal dump in Lara. That left 192,000 m3 of contaminated  construction and demolition waste, containing small pieces of non-friable asbestos.

Newly appointed Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) CEO, Lee Miezis, said waste crime was one of his priorities for the north east of Victoria on his first visit to the region following his appointment.

Mr Miezis said the Authority’s regional presence will be strengthened as new regulatory powers and systems improve EPA’s ability to detect and prevent pollution and also prosecute offenders where pollution occurred or even had the potential to occur.

“From 1 July, the new Environment Protection Act will come into force giving EPA far greater powers but also making it everyone’s responsibility to prevent pollution before it occurs. This is a major step forward for all Victorians,” said Mr Miezis.

“EPA has invested in a new EPA Waste Crimes Prevention Directorate to coordinate our efforts against waste crime across the state, and the community can expect to see more strong regulatory action.

“Victoria’s environment will be better protected in the future.”

“We have seen examples of waste being illegally dumped with the potential to do great environmental harm. I believe the community has no tolerance for such actions and rightly expect EPA to take action wherever it is detected,” said Mr Miezis when visiting the EPA Wangaratta office.

The EPA says regional areas are hotspots for waste crime in Victoria as they are isolated and harder to police.

Expert asbestos removalists believe an Asbestos register managed by the state or a system offering businesses tax breaks to properly dispose of hazardous material, is the only way to stop the mass dumping seen at places like Lillimur and Lara.

Grounds Maintenance Australia is one of the businesses in the running to help manage the removal of the tainted material at Lillimur. Stephen Marett, the Managing Director, says more needs to be done to encourage people to do the right thing with toxic waste.

‘At the moment we are seeing tonnes of toxic material and tainted waste being dumped in some of the most beautiful parts of the state. It’s going to continue to happen unless the state or federal government provides some incentive for people to do the right thing, apart from being caught and prosecuted criminally, this will continue to happen’, said Mr Marett.

‘I would like to see a small cash incentive of $5,000 dollars for businesses or anyone who has waste containing Asbestos or similar hazardous materials to  contact professionals like us to help them remove it rather than have people dumping it’.

‘People panic when they hear the word Asbestos and worry they can’t afford to remove it in a cost effective way. Businesses like us are able to help but if this continued illegal dumping happens, we could see people unnecessarily exposed to these substances’, added Mr Marett.

‘Another positive step would be to see the introduction of a statewide Asbestos register, so we can keep track of where it is stockpiled or might be present. This will allow the state to coordinate removal and disposal of such materials, if there is a cash incentive to declare its presence it might help people do the right thing’, concluded Mr Marett.

The Environment Protection Act 2017 comes into effect on 1 July 2021.

Source: Good Talent Media