THE Environment Protection Authority Victoria has charged the company in charge of a toxic rubber stockpile at Stawell.
Stawell Tyre Yard owners Used Tyre Recycling Corporation Pty Ltd are facing the charges following two breaches of an EPA statutory notice.
The company’s director, Dr Matthew Starr, also faces the same two charges.
The charges come after the EPA stepped in to remove a stockpile of about one million tyres from the site of the dumped tyres that would have posed a major hazard for nearby communities if it had caught fire.
The maximum court-imposed penalty for each charge is up to $373,104.
EPA chief executive Nial Finegan said the EPA had removed about 9500 tonnes of tyres and shred after repeated failure by the site’s owners to comply with orders to reduce the risk of fire at the site.
It took about two months and 380 truckloads of rubber to clear the site on the western side of Stawell.
The majority of the stockpile was taken to Melbourne to be processed.
“On 2 August 2017, it was decided that little to no effort had been made by the stockpile’s owner to comply with a Country Fire Authority (CFA) Fire Prevention Notice or any of three EPA notices issued on the site that required the owner to reduce the risk of fire at the site and to segregate tyres into smaller piles; therefore, unacceptable environmental and community risks remained on the eve of the forthcoming fire season,” Mr Finegan said in a statement.
“In short, EPA was of the view that the stockpile appeared to have been abandoned or was being handled in a manner by the owners that was likely to cause an environmental hazard.”
Mr Finegan said if the stockpile had caught fire it would have had many environmental, economic and social risks for Stawell and its surrounds.
The site lay dormant for almost 10 years and was deemed one of Australia’s largest and most dangerous stockpiles of rubber.
“The environmental impacts would have included air quality, firewater runoff into local waterways and land contamination,” he said.
“By removing this stockpile, EPA has removed these risks to both the local community and our environment.”
Mr Finegan said as the matter was now before the court and EPA’s investigation was continuing, it would be inappropriate for EPA to make any further comment.