Industry News

Fire risk of Geelong recycling stockpiles is a warning, says EPA Victoria

EPA Victoria recently issued a $8,060 fine over non-compliant stockpiling of recyclable waste in the north-west of Geelong and said this case should serve as a warning to other waste management companies across the state to do the right thing.

EPA Victoria south west manager Carolyn Francis said the loose stockpiles of combustible timber waste held by Natjon Super’s Lovely Banks site in Staceys Road, could pose a significant challenge for fire services if they were to catch fire.

“If those stockpiles ignited, firefighters could face major challenges protecting the health and environmental safety of the surrounding area,” Francis said.

EPA Victoria issued the site operator with a fine for not complying with a legally binding remedial notice to manage the stockpiles, in line with EPA Waste Management Policy requirements.
Unsafe stockpiles were detected through the Victorian government’s Resource Recovery Facilities Audit Taskforce, which has been auditing recycling facilities to identify non-compliance, including the stockpiling of materials that pose a fire risk to community safety and the environment.
Despite EPA Victoria issuing the operator with the remedial notice in October 2018, a follow-up inspection in December reportedly revealed that the operator had not completed the works required to improve stockpile sizes and management.
The EPA Victoria said that the operator has since started work to meet materials recycling guidelines at the premises, with the EPA continuing to closely monitor its progress. A further two remedial notices are due for compliance shortly.
“The EPA Guidelines on the management and storage of combustible recyclable and waste materials were established to reduce the risk of fire, and the impacts of smoke and fire water run-off,” Francis said.
“They cover issues including separation distances, firefighting facilities, staff training, emergency management planning and preventative behaviours, including regular inspections and hazard identification.
“The EPA takes a zero-tolerance approach to non-compliance against the Waste Management Policy requirements and expects the recycling industry to take their compliance obligations seriously. The EPA is continuing inspections of these premises to ensure compliance and reduce the risk that a fire could cause to the community and the environment.”