Victoria reviews dangerous goods laws

A comprehensive review of the Victoria’s dangerous goods laws is being undertaken to help stamp out unsafe chemical stockpiling.

The Victorian government has appointed Andrew Palmer, QC, to conduct the review of the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 and associated regulations.

According to a government statement the review is the latest step in its ongoing response to chemical stockpiling after two large chemical fires in West Footscray in August 2018 and Campbellfield in April 2019.

Immediately following the 2018 fire, WorkSafe led a blitz on industrial premises to ensure dangerous chemicals were being stored correctly.

Government agency investigations led to the discovery of waste chemicals stockpiled at 13 sites in Melbourne’s north last year.

A WorkSafe-led taskforce has so far removed more than 13 million litres of the stockpiled waste chemicals, clearing four sites in Epping, three in Craigieburn and three in Campbellfield. The final three sites in Campbellfield are currently being cleared.

The minister for workplace safety Jill Hennessy said that the government knows that the unsafe storing, handling or disposal of dangerous chemicals poses a real threat to local communities.

“This review will make sure dangerous goods laws remain effective and keep Victorian’s safe. Mr Palmer brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this important review which will safeguard all Victorians,” she said.

Tough penalties

The Labor Government last year introduced tough new penalties of up to 10 years in jail and fines of more than $6.4 million for rogue operators who recklessly manufacture, store, transport, transfer, sell or use dangerous goods in a way that places another person in danger of death.

Meanwhile, WorkSafe has charged Bradbury Industrial Services with 35 breaches of the Dangerous Goods Act in relation to five of the sites in Campbellfield and Craigieburn.

Review timely

Hennessy added that a review of the Act was important to ensure our laws are up to the task of protecting the community from the unacceptable risk that stockpiling of dangerous goods poses and to deal with those who do it.

A final report and recommendations are expected to be delivered to the Government next year, with opportunities for public comment and stakeholder engagement later this year.

WorkSafe has also charged Graham Leslie White, 58, of Harkness with 55 offences over the alleged illegal stockpiling of dangerous goods at four warehouses he occupied in Epping and one in Campbellfield and investigations are continuing.

Packaging and e-waste grants open in Victoria

Sustainability Victoria (SV) is offering significant grants focused on and packaging and e-waste to build Victoria’s e-waste resource recovery sector.

The largest grant of $2million, which will be capped at $500,000 for each project, is designed to support organisations in Victoria to reduce packaging waste disposed in landfill and is open for small to medium enterprises, not-for-profits and social enterprises with applications open until March 5, 2021.

SA has stated that only projects that address or use a combination of key criteria will be considered:

  • reduce generation of packaging waste
  • increase or improve recovery of packaging waste
  • manufacture packaging using recovered materials
  • remanufacture using packaging waste.

To receive the grant, they must primarily reduce, recover or reuse plastics, paper and cardboard, glass and rubber, while those that primarily recover metals are excluded.

The costs that the grants will assist with include piloting new systems, processes or technologies, acquiring additional plant and equipment, expanding facilities to enable increased resource recovery on existing premises, enabling works to house new plant and equipment and research, development and demonstration.

Financial co-contribution is required at a ratio of 1:1 and small to medium enterprises can contribute up to 25% of their co-contribution as in-kind. Funding from other government sources cannot be included in the co-contribution.

Meanwhile not-for-profits and social enterprises can contribute up to 50% of their co-contribution as in-kind. Funding from other government sources can be included in the co-contribution.

E-waste streams of funding

Round two of SA’s e-waste grants will prioritise building reprocessing capability and capacity, and ensure collection and storage of e-waste is conducted to a high standard.

Up to $500,000 is available across two streams of funding for industry and local government and Waste and Resource Recovery Groups (WRRGs) to invest in projects that increase recovery of e-waste materials and/or ensure the safe collection and storage of e-waste.

E-waste reprocessing grant

This has been designed for projects which will increase Victoria’s e-waste processing capacity and capability by delivering e-waste reprocessing solutions and/or upgrades to existing e-waste reprocessing facilities. SV will provide up to $500,000 to purchase and install equipment and/or upgrade infrastructure at existing e-waste reprocessing facilities. Projects must address one or more of the below benefits and be completed by March 31, 2022.

  • build e-waste reprocessing capacity and capability in Victoria
  • improve the value of e-waste materials through better sorting and reprocessing of e-waste
  • increase recovered e-waste materials with secured end markets
  • align with the goals and directions in the SWRRIPand relevant regional and metropolitan waste and resource recovery infrastructure plan(s)
  • be located in and servicing Victoria

This funding conditional on a minimum co-contribution model towards total project cost. For applications by business/ industry, each $1 of funding must be matched by a $2 co-contribution.

While applications by local government or WRRGS, each $1 of funding must be matched by a $1 co-contribution.

The e-waste Collection and Storage grant

Projects focused on ensuring collection and storage of e-waste is conducted to a high standard are eligible for the collection and storage grant which also closes on March 31, 2022.

SV will provide funding of up to $100,000 for projects delivering fixed, semi-permanent e-waste infrastructure upgrades and alternate non-fixed collection and storage solutions such as an e-waste collection trailer.

Projects that meet the following criteria will be considered by SV for funding:

  • collection and storage projects must be designed and constructed in line with:
    • key requirements of the AS/NZS 5377: 2013
    • all relevant building codes
    • all OH&S Act requirements including Section 28
    • all relevant EPA requirements
    • any other relevant requirements that may not be listed.
  • projects in identified geographical e-waste collection gaps including:
    • eastern suburbs of Melbourne and Warrnambool.
  • other geographical locations with a demonstrated need which are located in and servicing Victoria

SA has stated that this funding type is conditional on a minimum co-contribution model towards total project cost. Applications by business/ industry, each $1 of SV funding must be matched by a $2 co-contribution while applications by local government or WRRGS, each $1 of SV funding must be matched by a $1 co-contribution.

Central Coast recycler disputes EPA claim

PAR Recycling Services P/L (PAR) based on the New South Wales Central Coast is disputing a $15,000 fine issued by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA). The EPA  has said that the business did not follow orders to store chemicals safely to prevent potential pollution reaching local waterways.

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