Illegal dumping claims

SALE waste removal business Towards Zero is being investigated for alleged illegal dumping.

The Environmental Protection Authority and Victoria Police are investigating alleged breaches of the Environmental Protection and Crimes Acts.

As part of an ongoing investigation, police and the EPA executed a search warrant on the Wade Court, Sale, business on Wednesday, where documents were seized as evidence.

Trafalgar’s Gippsland Waste Services was also searched by police for similar alleged breaches, with Gippsland Waste Services having business associations with Towards Zero.

Towards Zero acts as Wellington Shire Council’s waste management contractor.

EPA environmental regulations director Chris Webb said Wednesday’s raid had been the culmination of many months of surveillance and investigation by EPA’s Illegal Dumping Strike Force.

The government-funded, specialised team’s focus this year has been to target illegal activity regarding the construction, demolition and skip bin hire sectors as it investigates large scale industrial illegal dumping.

“Evidence we’ve been able to obtain today will enhance EPA’s six-month investigation into these companies for suspected illegal activity with regard to a number of landfills and transfer stations in Gippsland,” Mr Webb said on Wednesday.

Orchestrated illegal dumping, Mr Webb said, undermined the work of legitimate operators in the industry, costing Victorians more than $13 million a year to clean up.

Wellington Shire chief executive officer David Morcom said “In light of today’s Environment Protection Agency and Victoria Police actions toward Gippsland Waste Services, I would like to assure Wellington Shire residents that collection services will continue as normal for your waste and recycling bins.

“If your bins are due for roadside collection in the morning, make sure they’re out before 6am, the same as usual,” he added.

“Council officers have for some time assisted the EPA with their enquiries regarding Gippsland Waste Services and we continue to work with them as their investigation progresses,” Mr Morcom said.

“We extend our gratitude to the EPA for the opportunity that we could be in a position to work toward smooth continuation for your waste services,” Mr Morcom said.

“While we are confident of limited disruption to the way waste management is conducted across Wellington Shire, we will of course provide updated information if and when required.”

For legal and contractual reasons, Mr Morcom said he was unable to provide further comment regarding Gippsland Waste Services or Wednesday’s activities.

“Rest assured that I will keep our residents informed of significant developments as and when I am able,” he added.

The EPA is working with the Wellington, East Gippsland and Baw Baw councils to ensure regional waste services will remain uninterrupted.

The Gippsland Times phoned Towards Zero, but no-one was available for comment.

To report industrial dumping and suspected illegal dumping phone EPA’s pollution hotline on 1300 EPA VIC.