EPA site inspections on the rise
The annual report of Victoria’s environmental watchdog, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), has revealed that the number of site inspections across the state has far exceeded targets and inspections are on the rise.
The EPA conducted 26 successful prosecutions in 2010-11 — almost double the number undertaken the previous year — and, as a result, offending companies paid $2.5 million to community programs or compliance works, plus more than $400,000 in direct fines.
The EPA aimed to conduct 200 compliance inspections in Victoria in 2010-11, but it actually undertook 337. It visited 252 unlicensed, poor-performing sites, beating an initial target of 100 inspections.
The authority will remain vigilant in cracking down on polluters in 2011-12. It has outlined plans to conduct 180 licence inspections for the approximately 650 licensed sites across the state, and will undertake compliance inspections at licensed landfill sites, focusing on areas where communities have raised concerns.
The EPA will also continue efforts to reduce the illegal dumping of waste. It sets and enforces standards regulating permissible levels of emission, discharge and deposit to the environment —causing pollution above these levels constitutes an offence.
Earlier this year, EPA released its new Compliance and Enforcement Policy (C&E Policy), which is intended to give businesses greater certainty about their obligations – and better protect the environment —through providing information about the EPA’s compliance and enforcement functions. Its compliance and enforcement activities will be targeted at the most serious risks to the environment and those businesses less likely to comply. The policy comes after a number of critical external reports and a comprehensive review of EPA’s compliance and enforcement functions late last year, which all pointed to inconsistent and ineffective systems, processes and regulation.
So, what does all this mean for your business?
The increase in action by the EPA sends a clear message to the Victorian business community: take a closer look at your waste management avenues or face substantial penalties.
Victorian businesses are advised to self-assess and address problems before they are penalised for failing to do so and forced into a compliance regime that is beyond their control.
If you would like information on how to identify waste minimisation opportunities in your organisation, visit VECCI Sustainability Services website .
For further information about the EPA, visit www.epa.vic.gov.au.