News

Pile of burning waste lands farm with fine

By Country News

Environment Protection Authority Victoria says the hefty fine issued over a burning pile of farm waste at Woolsthorpe in south-west Victoria should be a warning for rural landholders in the state’s north.

EPA north-east region manager Emma Knights said the fire cost a dairy company more than $8000, after EPA officers found the pile — containing plastic, wire, soil and hay — still burning when they arrived.

‘‘The pile also included a 20-litre plastic chemical drum, fence posts, ash and bailing twine,’’ she said.

‘‘It was industrial waste and should have been taken for proper disposal.’’

EPA issued the company with a fine of $8060 for permitting the discard of industrial waste through burning, a breach of Section 27 of the Environment Protection Act.

The burning pile was about four metres square and 1.8m high, with grey smoke and flames visible when EPA officers arrived.

They were told the fire had started through spontaneous combustion several days before.

A company representative told EPA the local CFA brigade had been called to fight a similar spontaneous fire in a pile of waste at the farm 12 months earlier.

‘‘Getting rid of mixed piles of farm waste by burning them may have been the practice of previous generations, but it is now recognised that it creates a significant risk to the environment and can impact people’s health,’’ Ms Knights said.

‘‘Materials like these should go to recycling or an appropriate landfill.

‘‘The company has now introduced a waste management process to ensure that such incidents do not happen in the future.’’

Under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Infringements Act 2008, the company had the right to have the decision to issue the infringement notice reviewed or alternatively to have the matter heard and determined by a court.

■Members of the public can report all types of pollution to the EPA’s 24-hour hotline on 1300 372 842 or at: www.epa.vic.gov.au