Wellington Shire Council is fined over dumping

Wellington Shire Council offices.

David Braithwaite

THE Environmental Protection Authority has fined Wellington Shire Council $8261 over truckloads of waste found dumped on a property at Gormandale.
EPA described the material dumped as “industrial waste” and said it included plastic, weeds and road signs, but council maintains the waste was “clean fill”, and it has been common practice for various agencies to use the area as a “stack site”.
EPA regional manager Jessica Bandiera said the investigation began with a call from a member of the public which sparked a joint inspection of the property on Oakes Rd.
“EPA and Parks Victoria officers found more than a dozen large piles of waste that should not have been there,” she said.
“The waste included logs, dried branches, dead vegetation, plastic, blue gravel, paper, weeds, bitumen, road signs, rocks and several different types of soil,” she said.
“It had been dumped along a ridge and was spilling over the embankment into a gully, where the officers also found two old car bodies.”
The site was inspected on February 26.
The waste is classified as industrial waste under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the facility was not licensed to accept it, which made the dumping a breach of section 27A(2)(a) of the act.
“This was deliberate dumping of mixed industrial waste, and on a second visit Parks Victoria officers reported disappointedly seeing council workers dumping more loads of waste on the premises,” Ms Bandiera said.
“This waste is a threat to local plants and wildlife, and the unknown nature of some of the content means there could have been other types of contamination that might affect the soil or waterways.”
Ms Bandiera said EPA issued a notice that required the council to have the material cleaned
up, and council had since complied.
Wellington Shire Council build and natural environment general manager Chris Hastie said council had been contacted a few months ago by the EPA in relation to material which had been removed from council-managed roadsides as part of general road maintenance activities.
“In this instance, as had been practice for many years, this material was taken to a local stack site that had been used as a fill site previously,” he said.
“The site is adjacent to a closed landfill and has been used by various agencies in the past for this purpose.
“Once we were alerted to the concerns raised by the EPA, we immediately undertook to have the material tested and subsequently removed this clean fill from the area of concern, which was then taken to our Kilmany waste facility.
“The material has been independently tested and assessed as clean fill, not general waste.
“We are disappointed that the EPA have decided to issue a penalty in this instance and will be discussing this matter with our local representatives, to gain better clarity and how we might work more closely on similar matters in the future.”