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SKM says EPA did not give enough notice before restricting waste entering Laverton North site

An SKM Services representative has expressed disappointment after claiming the EPA Victoria did not give it enough notice prior to restricting recyclable waste materials from entering its Laverton North site.

On July 10, the EPA Victoria issued the company a notice that required it to stop accepting recyclable waste materials at the site on Gilbertson Road.

A statement from the EPA explained it took this action to reduce any potential risks to human health and the environment posed by stockpiles of recyclable waste materials at the site.

The EPA issued SKM Services with notices on June 19, 2019, which required the company to bring its outdoor stockpiles at its Maffra Street, Coolaroo and Gilbertson Road, Laverton North sites into compliance with the Victorian Waste Management Policy by July 3, 2019.

The company requested two extensions to these notices with the final compliance date agreed July 17, 2019, the EPA stated.

The EPA granted the extensions with strict conditions that included an increase of inspections at the site.

Following EPA’s notice on July 10, an SKM spokesperson told Inside Waste the EPA had agreed to extend the deadline of this minor works pollution abatement notice (MWPAN) to July 17, so SKM had been diligently working to the agreed plan to meet compliance by that deadline.

On the afternoon of Wednesday July 10, with less than 24 hours’ notice, SKM was advised by the EPA that the deadline had been changed to Thursday July, 11 at 1pm, the spokesperson said.

“SKM is bitterly disappointed with this action as [the] EPA had agreed to a deadline to which SKM was working to and with no regard to the agreed plan to which we were working to.

“Nevertheless, following the changing of the deadline we have made further progress overnight.”

The spokesperson said they believed their progress would meet the requirements of the MWPAN.

There was a small fire at the Laverton North site on July 8 that the EPA believed began in a conveyor belt. The fire was quickly brought under control.

Additionally, during June inspections, EPA officers observed large stockpiles of combustible recyclable waste materials from kerbside collections stored without appropriate separation distances between stockpiles, buildings or the premises boundary.

EPA has completed more than 60 inspections across the two sites in order to assist SKM to comply with its obligations.

The SKM spokesperson said the minor fire on July 8 was caused by a fault related to an electric motor.

“SKM staff used fire extinguishers to put out the fire very quickly and followed standing operating procedures by calling the Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) and evacuating the facility of staff until the MFB authorised their return.

“The plant resumed normal operations within around two hours and was operationally unaffected by the incident.”