ABS Civil fined by Vic EPA over ‘mess’

Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has fined skip bin business ABS Civil more than $5,000 for stockpiling industrial waste at Lovely Banks, on the outskirts of Geelong.

The company had built up a pile of broken concrete, plasterboard, wooden pallets, plastic, bricks, rock and soil when members of the public reported the mess to EPA in November 2021.

EPA Southwest Regional Manager Carolyn Francis says the company, ABS Civil, was given every opportunity to clean up the mess and avoid a fine.

“We found the company was receiving, sorting and storing industrial waste at the property on Lovely Banks Road, Lovely Banks, without the appropriate EPA permissions,” Francis said.

“Operators can’t just make it up as they go along or pretend they don’t have a responsibility to the environment and the community. They must comply with the Environment Protection Act 2017, plus any EPA permission conditions specific to that activity and that site,” she said.

EPA officers issued an Environmental Action Notice requiring the company to cease operations and remove all industrial waste from the site. They later allowed an extension in recognition of the impacts of the pandemic, but an inspection in May 2022 confirmed there was still a stockpile of waste.

The company was fined $5,452 for failing to comply with the official notice. This will be over and above any cost to remove the remaining material.

“It might seem easier and cheaper to avoid complying with Victoria’s environmental law, but discarded waste like this is pollution and any Victorian can report it to EPA,” Francis said.

“The hotline is available 24 hours a day and most of our investigations start with either an EPA inspection or a call from the public,” Ms Francis said.

The Environment Protection Act took effect almost a year ago and introduced a General Environmental Duty that requires any business or person to take reasonable actions to reduce the risk of harm from their activities to human health and the environment, from pollution or waste.