Community tip-offs have helped expose illegal burning of industrial waste in South Geelong, the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has revealed.
Gravel Pits Construction must pay a fine of $8060 for operating an air-curtain burner (ACB) without EPA approval, the authority said.
Reports of “smoke and the smell of burning plastic” led to EPA officers discovering the incinerator on the company’s Gravel Pits Rd site in March.
The high-volume incinerator had been burning “steel and construction waste”, the EPA said.
EPA southwest regional manager Carolyn Francis confirmed that Gravel Pits Construction did not have a licence or approval for the ACB.
“The company were using water to cool the remaining material in the incinerator which generated large steam clouds, in addition to the smoke and smell,” she said.
“The regulations are important because they ensure conditions, such as minimum distances from residential properties, fire controls, and acceptable operating hours, are in place to protect public and environmental health.
“Incinerators may seem like a good way to manage waste but not understanding the regulations can be costly.
“Purchasers need to do their research before using such equipment and consider whether other forms of waste management, such as recycling, may be better for their wallet and the environment.”
Gravel Pits Construction was now seeking EPA works approval to operate the incinderator, Ms Francis said.
He thanked the community for its “vigilance”.
“The public are our eyes and ears and we thank them for reporting their pollution concerns to our 24-hour hotline 1300 372 842 so we can investigate,” she said.
“We want to be as proactive as possible in stopping harm from pollution and waste and will be working with all Victorian businesses ahead of a new general environmental duty being introduced on 1 July 2020 as part of the new EPA Act.
“The duty will put the onus onto businesses and require people who conduct activities that pose a risk to human health and the environment from pollution and waste to take reasonable steps to eliminate or reduce those risks.”
Two acts of government gave Gravel Pits Construction the right to have the fine reviewed or to have the matter determined in court, the EPA said.