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Fines for illegal waste depot and abuse of officers
Charges relating to an illegal waste depot and foul-mouthed abuse and threats to EPA officers have seen a father and son fined in the ERD Court.
Trevor Coghlan, 64, pleaded guilty to operating a waste depot without a licence, failing to comply with a clean-up order, four counts of using abusive and insulting or threatening language to an authorised officer, and one count of hindering an authorised officer. He was fined a total of $24,500.
His son, David Coghlan, 39, pleaded guilty to one count each of using abusive or insulting language and hindering an authorised officer and fined $4,900.
In delivering the sentence, Judge Costello described Trevor Coghlan’s abuse of EPA officers as “crude, aggressive and appallingly offensive behaviour towards persons who were simply trying to do their job”.
Trevor Coghlan had been receiving scrap metal for recycling at the Cavan property, and EPA officers found generators, transformers and several mining trucks when they inspected the site in March 2015.
They also found oil-stained soil in several places, including heavy staining next to the workshop and sheds, and near the mining trucks. Large containers of drained oil were being stored on bare earth, rather than in a bunded area as required, with oil staining visible around them.
Mr Coghlan, who was living on the site at the time, claimed that vandals had scaled a fence and drained the oil from the transformers, but in a statement provided to the EPA, he admitted allowing oil to drain directly onto the ground while dismantling machinery.
Samples obtained by the EPA found soil contamination with petroleum hydrocarbons at a level that would make it unsafe for anyone to live or work there.
The EPA ordered Mr Coghlan to cease receiving waste at the site, and issued him with an environment protection order and a clean-up order that required him to have a plan in place by 30 June 2015 to make good the environmental damage.
Mr Coghlan did not comply with the clean-up order, and was abusive and threatening to EPA officers when they telephoned or visited the site to check on progress, and again when officers returned with SA Police to execute a warrant.
The Coghlans were evicted from the property in October 2018 and owner DPTI is now assessing the level of contamination and what clean-up might be required.
Site contamination experts and regulators from around the world converged on Adelaide recently for the 8th International CleanUp Conference.
Hosted by CRC CARE, Global CARE and the University of Newcastle, the CleanUp Conference has its origins in Adelaide, with the first one being held here in 1994.
This year’s theme was Remediating the Planet, with a focus on PFAS as an emerging contaminant, and about 700 delegates attended from 27 countries, including Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US, Canada, Germany, Nigeria, India, and Thailand.
EPA staff were involved in organising the conference, including chairing sessions and organising the technical tours. Chief Executive Tony Circelli presented the opening plenary on South Australia’s approach to managing legacy site contamination, which providing us with the opportunity to showcase SA’s leadership in the site contamination sector, including orphan site management and the great importance of providing good quality, timely information to affected communities.
ABC Radio National’s Big Ideas program will broadcast a panel discussion recorded at the conference and featuring Danielle Torresan from the EPA Site Contamination Branch. You can download the podcast from the Big Ideas webpage.
Photo courtesy ASB Creative.
Site contamination certification
From 1 August 2019, the EPA requires South Australian site contamination practitioners to be certified by one of two national schemes under certain circumstances.
The EPA has accredited specialists as auditors since 2007. However where an audit is not required, a gap has remained for people who practise as assessment and remediation professionals.
Certification schemes for site contamination are relatively new in Australia. The lack of certification can pose a risk to human health, contribute to financial loss and personal hardship to current and future property owners, and result in legal action.
The Environment Protection Authority’s Site contamination policy: certification of practitioners came into effect on 1 August 2019, recognising the standards necessary for the recognition of certifying schemes, and the circumstances under which the EPA will recommend or require the use of certified practitioners.
There are two existing schemes in Australia – one managed by the Environmental Institute Australia and New Zealand and the second managed by Soil Science Australia – and both have been recognised as able to certify site contamination practitioners.
The EPA has worked closely with both schemes to ensure they meet nationally agreed standards.
Think before you burn this spring
If you’re planning a clean-up on your property this spring, do you know whether you need a permit to burn fallen branches and prunings?
Regulations covering burning in the open were updated in 2016 to apply to all built-up areas across the state.
Under these regulations, council approval is required to burn outdoors in metropolitan Adelaide and in townships.
A bonfire is not necessarily the best way of dealing with excess organic material, especially in the suburbs or inside town limits.
In most cases, the preferred option is to dispose of the material through your council’s free green waste drop-off days or via the regular green bin system, which has the extra benefit of recycling the material for compost.
Council will issue a permit if burning is considered necessary for fire prevention or to dispose of piles of agricultural or forestry waste, so this won’t affect anyone’s ability to prepare for bushfire season.
The penalty for burning in the open without a permit is $300, so checking before you burn could save you a lot of money.
Smoke can have serious effects on human health, and while it can affect anyone, the risks are greater for the elderly, young children, and people who have cardiovascular or respiratory diseases.
It also creates a nuisance in built-up areas, and can be a source of conflict between neighbours.
Learn more about burning in the open here, or contact your local council.
If you are doing a broadacre burn or disposing of vegetation piles outside a township, no permit is required, but you must comply with the relevant CFS Code of Practice.
Checklists for oyster farms
The EPA has developed a suite of four checklists for the key elements of oyster farming to help oyster growers determine whether they are meeting their environmental obligations.
Staff from the EPA’s Science branch recently attended the SA Oyster Growers’ Association (SAOGA) Forum in Streaky Bay to launch the checklists, which reflect the requirements of the Code of Practice for the environmental management of the South Australian oyster farming industry.
Checklists are available for marine farming sites, oyster depots where grading, packing, and equipment maintenance and storage takes place, the use of vehicles and vessels such as oyster punts, tractors and forklifts, and the hatcheries where oyster spat is grown.
As well as assisting oyster growers, the checklists can be used by government agencies to check compliance with environment protection legislation during site visits.
Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) manages aquaculture licences, with the EPA assessing and providing comment on all new licence applications, variation of licence conditions, and lease conditions.
If you have any comments or suggestions to improve either the code or the checklists, please email EPAScience@sa.gov.au.
Have your say on proposed waste reforms
The EPA is seeking feedback on two proposed changes affecting the waste industry.
One covers the way the waste levy is collected from landfills, and the other relates to how financial assurances might be applied to stockpiles.
Waste levy collection
The proposed changes aim to ensure that the waste levy is collected in a fair and consistent way that also encourages resource recovery and good environmental outcomes.
Draft legislation has been developed to amend the Environment Protection Regulations 2009 and the Environment Protection (Waste to Resources) Policy 2010.
The Environment Protection Act 1993 was amended in 2017 to allow for financial assurances to be put in place to address the risks associated with unauthorised stockpiling or abandonment of waste.
The EPA is seeking feedback on the information sheet, Financial assurances and stockpiling – who, when, what and how much, which outlines the proposed approach to applying financial assurances.
We encourage you to provide detailed feedback on how the proposed changes may affect your business.
Please send email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Waste Reform Consultation’ in the subject line, or post to
Waste Reform Consultation
Environment Protection Authority
GPO Box 2607
ADELAIDE SA 5001
Consultation closes at 5pm on Monday, 21 October 2019.
The EPA will also be holding industry consultation sessions later this month.
All feedback received during the consultation period will be considered when finalising any changes.
For further information, please contact the EPA by calling 8204 2004 or by emailing email@example.com.
Drone view of channel dredging
EPA officers aboard the EPA boat Diomedea used a drone recently to get a bird’s eye view of the dredging operation to widen the Outer Harbor shipping channel.
Dredging of the Outer Harbor channel wrapped up on 18 September 2019, and Flinders Ports is now undertaking bed levelling works in the channel before completing a final survey.
The EPA is working with Flinders Ports to ensure the closure plan is implemented. The plan includes seagrass monitoring in April 2020 and again in April 2022, bathymetric surveys of the dredge area and disposal area, and removal of all plant and equipment from the premises.
Watch the footage here to see how backhoe dredge Magnor operates.
Read more about Flinders Ports’ environmental licence and the scientific monitoring of the dredging operation.
Bore water ban for Hendon area
Using bore water is now prohibited in parts of Hendon, Royal Park, Seaton and Albert Park due to chemical contamination.
The Environment Protection Authority has been investigating groundwater contamination in the area for a number of years, and has previously asked residents not to use their bore water for any purpose.
Residents in 2800 homes had been notified that a groundwater prohibition area (GPA) would take effect from 12 September.
Testing has found a range of chemicals in the groundwater, including petroleum and chlorinated hydrocarbons such as trichloroethene (TCE), dichloroethene (DCE), and vinyl chloride.
The upper aquifers are contaminated to a depth of 10m. Anyone with deeper bores can continue to use them, but this water should be tested before it use.
Mains water and rain water are not affected, and it is safe to eat home-grown produce so long as it hasn’t been irrigated with bore water.
Chlorinated hydrocarbons are known to cause cancer in cases where people have been in contact with them over long periods.
They are also extremely difficult to remove once an aquifer is contaminated, and they remain in the environment for many years, so this groundwater may never be safe to use again.
The Hendon Industrial Area is the primary source of the contamination, but there are at least another 13 contaminated sites in the new GPA.
Several other GPAs are already in place around metropolitan Adelaide, in Edwardstown, Allenby Gardens and Glenelg East.
It is illegal to use groundwater in a GPA, and a maximum penalty of $8,000 applies.
The ban on bore water covers all uses, including irrigating gardens and lawns, drinking, showering, and filling swimming pools, as these are all pathways for people to be exposed to the contamination.
For more information, visit www.engage.epa.sa.gov.au
New EPA licensing
Two new sectors will require environmental licences from the EPA from the 2020–21 financial year.
With the transition from fossil fuels to renewables, the size, scale and environmental impacts of renewable energy facilities have increased.
These facilities require regulatory effort by the EPA to ensure environmental monitoring and compliance, as well as making sure that effective community engagement is undertaken.
Technological advances also mean there are now more options for these facilities to adjust their operations to deal with issues such as noise.
Generation methods such as pumped hydro, wind farms and hydrogen facilities will be licensed, but solar photovoltaic and batteries will be excluded as their operation does not meet the threshold to warrant licensing.
The EPA will now work with the Department for Energy and Mining, BioEnergy Australia and the Clean Energy Council on how licensing will be introduced.
From 1 July 2020, poultry farms will join piggeries, cattle feedlots and saleyards in requiring EPA licences.
The shift to licensing has been driven by a substantial growth in both the SA poultry industry and in the size of individual operations.
Poultry sheds can have a range of environmental impacts, including odour, pollution of ground and surface water, waste management and noise.
When the Environment Protection Act was established, the average poultry farm had tens of thousands of birds, but there are now sites with more than a million birds, and the scale and potential impact of the associated environmental issues has increased significantly.
Only sites with the capacity to keep more than 250,000 birds will require licences, bringing SA into line with other states.
Licensing will begin on 1 July 2020. Licence fees and conditions will be determined in coming months, and affected operators will be informed how to make an application.
Asbestos fine for waste contractor
An Adelaide skip bin operator has received a significant fine in the Environment, Resource and Development Court.
Waste Away SA was fined $21,000 on 21 June for receiving and storing asbestos without a licence.
When EPA officers inspected Waste Away’s Wingfield depot in January 2017, they found five skip bins containing up to two tonnes of asbestos and asbestos-contaminated material.
Waste Away is a licensed waste transporter, but did not have a licence to receive or store asbestos at the site.
Operators licensed by the EPA to transport asbestos waste can only take the waste to a facility that is licensed to receive or dispose of asbestos. Storing asbestos requires the appropriate licence to operate a waste depot.
Transporters also need to ensure that the appropriate tracking forms are submitted, and that the asbestos is wrapped properly and clearly marked – ‘Caution – asbestos. Do not inhale dust’ – for the safety of anyone who handled the waste.
This prosecution follows a proactive education campaign in 2016 where the EPA inspected all licensed asbestos transporters and provided guidance on their licence conditions for the disposal and transport of asbestos.
Waste Away was also fined a further $420 for discharging wash-down water from an industrial or commercial site into the stormwater system, and required to pay $800 in court costs and a Victims of Crime Levy of $160.
Bore water ban proposed
A groundwater prohibition area has been proposed in Adelaide’s west.
The proposed GPA covers parts of Thebarton, and is bounded by South and Port roads to the west and east, and the River Torrens to the north, with the southern border beginning at Rose Street and ending at Livingstone Street.
The area’s groundwater had been contaminated by a number of hazardous chemicals associated with manufacturing and industry, including chlorinated and petroleum hydrocarbons such as tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE), and nitrates.
The EPA has been undertaking environmental assessment work related to a former metal processing site on George Street, Thebarton, since 2017, and it is this contamination that has resulted in the move towards a GPA.
PCE and TCE can cause serious health problems – including cancer – if people come into contact with them over long periods of time, and the bore water ban is designed to remove the major pathway for exposure.
TCE and PCE remain in the environment for a long time and are notoriously difficult to remove from groundwater once an aquifer is contaminated, meaning these chemicals could still be there in hundreds of years.
Western Adelaide has a long history of manufacturing and industry, and there are several other sources of contamination as well as the George Street metal works.
Groundwater testing undertaken by a third party at 25 West Thebarton Road found heavy metals, including a small amount of uranium relating to testing of mining samples.
Radiation levels at the site are not of concern, being indistinguishable from background levels on most of the property.
Mains water and the deeper tertiary aquifer accessed by West End Brewing, including the community water fountain on Port Road, are not affected by the contamination.
Home-grown produce is also safe so long as it has not been irrigated with bore water.
Community information sessions will be held later this month. For more information, visit www.engage.epa.sa.gov.au.
Lonsdale dust study
A dust study will begin in the Lonsdale area next month to help collect evidence of where dust is coming from and how it affects the community.
The EPA is installing air monitoring equipment at four locations around Lonsdale and Hallett Cove, with the data to be made publicly available online.
The aim of the study is to analyse the size of the dust particles and weather conditions to identify the potential sources of the dust that has been concerning locals.
EPA staff hosted a workshop with residents on 19 June to share information on how the study would be run, including how air quality monitoring equipment works and what sort of data it can collect, and to get input on the placement of the dust monitors.
Decisions are now being made on where the equipment will be placed, and another community workshop is planned for later this month.
For more information, visit https://www.epa.sa.gov.au/business_and_industry/industry-updates/lonsdale-precinct
Noise guidelines for review
South Australia’s windfarm noise guidelines are still among the most protective in the world, an EPA technical review has found.
The review of the state’s Windfarms environmental noise guidelines considered national and international research, and the latest international standards and recommendations.
Some revisions have been made based on the review, and new draft guidelines have been released for consultation with the public, experts and industry.
The draft addresses potential noise impacts from multi-stage windfarm developments, and new windfarms potentially affecting people already living close to existing windfarms.
Changes include a new section on infrasound and low-frequency sound, more stringent requirements for background noise data, and stronger tonality provisions.
The information gathered via the consultation will be combined with the most up-to-date information from around the world, including from the World Health Organisation, in preparation for a major update of the guidelines.
The update will include consultation with other Australian jurisdictions, with a view to standardising guidelines across the country.
Two studies funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) are under way. When the findings are available, they will be taken into account in the review.
For a copy of the draft guidelines, visit https://www.epa.sa.gov.au/our_work/have_your_say
Good for Environment Good for Business
The 2019 edition of Good for Environment Good for Business is out now.
The EPA licenses more than 1500 South Australian businesses, institutions and agencies under the Environment Protection Act 1993.
Good for Environment Good for Business is an annual publication, showcasing the innovative practices our licensees are developing and implementing.
This year’s special regional edition highlights the achievements of two companies and two local councils.
Timber processor OneFortyOne invested $4m at the Jubilee Highway Timber Mill in Mount Gambier to rectify air-quality issues that had been a problem for many years when it bought the mill in January 2018.
Oat and grain processor Blue Lake Milling solved a long-term noise problem at its Bordertown site by investing $500,000 in noise reduction technology.
Northern Areas Council built a spur line from the Jamestown wastewater treatment plant to irrigate the crop grown by the local Apex Club to fund community projects.
Alexandrina Council upgraded its Goolwa Waste and Recycling Depot, creating a one-stop shop for waste and recycling for the Fleurieu community, and improving access and stormwater management.
Keep the home fires burning – responsibly
The wood heaters have been getting a solid work out for the past few weeks, but it’s important to remember that smoke from home fireplaces can be a cause of health problems or even conflict with neighbours.
Many people think of wood smoke as somehow being ‘good’ smoke because of its association with happy camping trips or cosy nights in front of the fireplace.
But the truth is that if you can smell smoke, no matter where it’s coming from, it’s potentially doing you harm.
Smoke is a major cause of poor air quality in winter, especially in built-up areas, or regions like the Adelaide Hills and South East where temperatures are lower and many homes have wood-burning heaters.
Exposure to smoke can cause health issues for elderly people, young children, or anyone with a respiratory disease.
However, there is no reason why we can’t enjoy the warmth and comfort of a fire during winter so long as we keep a few guidelines in mind.
- Get your chimney cleaned once a year to remove creosote build-up, which can be harmful. If you own an investment property with a wood heater, don’t forget about your tenants.
- Only use well-seasoned, dry wood, and never burn treated or painted wood as this can release additional harmful chemicals into the air.
- Your chimney should only smoke for the first 20 minutes after starting the fire.
- Let your fire go out overnight instead of choking it down and letting it smoulder, as this creates unnecessary smoke.
Bonfires and wood-burning fire pits are not allowed inside townships, but if you have a fire pit or chiminea for outdoor heating, you can still use charcoal as a fuel source.
Outdoor wood fires for cooking food are allowed so long as the size of the fire is proportionate to the food being prepared, such as a wood-fired pizza oven or barbecue.
For more information on enjoying a fire without annoying your neighbours, contact your local council or check our wood smoke information page.
Helping out charity shops
Authorised officers from the EPA have helped local charities shine a light on scavenging and theft of donations left at their shops outside of business hours.
The National Association of Charitable Recyclers (NACRO) sought assistance from the EPA to determine whether the items being left outside shop hours were genuine donations or acts of illegal dumping.
EPA officers carried out three nights of covert surveillance at a ‘problem’ eastern suburbs store, where donations were frequently being left after hours.
While some of the items EPA officers saw were not suitable – like partially used containers of food and stained pillows – most of what was being dropped off in front of the store were saleable items like bagged clothing, shoes, toys and books.
However, by the end of each of the three nights of surveillance, these donations had been picked over, many things taken, and the storefront left littered with scattered items and empty plastic bags.
Charity stores knew that scavenging was a problem, but until the surveillance was carried out, nobody realised how big the problem was.
Up to half of the after-hours visits EPA officers filmed were from people who stole items, sometimes loading donations into their cars by the bagful.
Some people made multiple visits to steal items in the same night to steal, and one was seen on all three nights when surveillance was carried out.
The video was shared with The Sunday Mail and Messenger Newspapers, with the aim of showing the community what can happen to after-hours donations.
Donate the right way
- Check with the shop first on what items they accept. For example, some specialise in clothing, and don’t take books.
- Only donate good-quality items that charities can give to people in need or sell.
- Always drop items off during business hours – remember, many charity shops are open on weekends.
Proposed bore water ban for Hendon area
Community consultation is under way on a proposed groundwater prohibition area (GPA) taking in parts of Hendon, Royal Park, Seaton and Albert Park in Adelaide’s western suburbs.
Groundwater in the area is contaminated with a range of hazardous chemicals due to historic industrial activity, and residents have been asked not to use the bore water for any purpose.
Western Adelaide has a long history of industry, and chemical disposal and containment in the past did not meet current standards.
The Hendon Industrial Estate is the primary source of contamination, but there are at least 14 contaminated sites in this area.
Testing has found a number of chemicals of concern in the groundwater, including volatile petroleum and chlorinated hydrocarbons such as trichloroethene (TCE), dichloroethene (DCE), and vinyl chloride (VC).
Chlorinated hydrocarbons are of particular concern because they are known to be carcinogenic if people come into contact with them over a long period.
They also remain in the environment for many years because they are notoriously difficult to remove once an aquifer is contaminated.
The main way people come into contact with these chemicals is by using groundwater, either to irrigate gardens and lawns, or for drinking, showering or filling swimming pools.
Mains water is not affected by the contamination, and home-grown produce is safe to eat so long as it had not been irrigated with bore water.
Several groundwater protection areas have been declared around the Adelaide metropolitan area, including the areas surrounding Edwardstown, Allenby Gardens and Glenelg East.
For more information, visit https://engage.sa.gov.au
Port Augusta power stations licence transferred
The environmental licence for the former Port Augusta power stations site has been transferred from Flinders Power to the site’s new owner, Cu-River Mining.
The licence transfer coincided with the completion of the contract settlement between the two companies at the end of May.
The EPA has regulated this site during its operation and its closure, and will continue to do so throughout the post-closure period.
All the existing conditions and obligations in the Flinders Power licence have been transferred to the Cu-River licence, including the requirement to implement the dust management plan.
The transferral also requires Cu-River to provide a $2.4 million financial assurance to the EPA in the form of a bank guarantee by 1 October 2019.
This figure represents the remaining costs of post-closure obligations, and is focused on the former ash dam, including dust management practices.
As vegetation cover increases at the site, these requirements may change. In recognition of this, the licence conditions require a site audit in late 2020 to evaluate the remaining financial liability.
Schedule 1 changes
Changes have been made to the section of the Environment Protection Act that sets out which activities require authorisation from the Environment Protection Authority.
The amendments to Schedule 1 – Prescribed activities of environmental significance came into effect on 1 June.
The changes update and clarify language to make the schedule easier to understand and apply, and better delineate between different waste-related activities.
They do not affect which activities are licensed or the requirements of those licences, with the exception of fish processing, where an authority will no longer be required for freezing, chilling or packing facilities.
Licence conditions have not changed as a result of these amendments.
Read a summary of the changes here.
For further information, please contact Doug Johnson on 8204 2027 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Changes to firefighting foams
The EPA is reminding all users, manufacturers and suppliers of firefighting foams that the grace period for transitioning to fluorine-free products ends on 30 January 2020.
After this cut-off date, the supply and use of fluorinated foams will be prohibited, and manufacturers will be required to prove their products are compliant.
A ban on the products came into effect on 30 January 2018, with two years for industry to meet the new requirements.
Foams are used to fight fires involving flammable or combustible liquids like petrol or oil, and are commonly used in firefighting drills at sites like defence bases, airports and fuel storage facilities.
Depending on the size of the firefighting system, users should contact their fire safety service provider or consider engaging a suitably qualified consultant to organise the transition.
The EPA understands that the transition to fluorine-free foam by the cut-off date may not be possible in certain cases. Applications for short-term exemptions may be considered, but they must be received before 30 August 2019.
Only licensed waste facilities that are authorised to receive PFAS waste can legally accept fluorinated foams for storage prior to destruction. Disposal to the environment is strictly prohibited.
Legislative requirements are set out in Section 13A of the Environment Protection (Water Quality) Policy 2015.
For more information on the transition, visit www.epa.sa.gov.au/environmental_info/perfluorinated-compounds, or contact Dylan Stone (email: email@example.com phone: (08) 8463 7811), or Aiden Ryan (email: firstname.lastname@example.org phone: (08) 8204 2154).
Cost recovery measures
New measures are being introduced from 2019-20 to recover some of the costs associated with environmental regulation and the support the EPA provides to industry.
Petrol stations, the resource recovery and transfer sector, and businesses licensed under Schedule 1 of the Environment Protection Act 1993 will be affected.
Petrol stations will require an EPA licence for the first time from 1 January 2020, reflecting the amount of site contamination caused by leaking or decaying underground petrol tanks, and the work required to deal with this. There will also be an increase in fees for large fuel storage facilities
Licence fees for resource recovery and transfer activities will increase to reflect the level of regulatory work needed for this sector.
The Solid Waste Levy will also rise. In the metropolitan area, it will rise to $110 per tonne on 1 July, then to $140 per tonne on 1 January 2020. In regional areas, the new rates will be half this. The levy applies only to waste going to landfill, not to recovered resources, as an incentive for recovery and recycling.
Charitable recycling organisations have identified the growing cost of sending unusable donations to landfill as a problem. In recognition of this issue, the waste levy paid by charitable recyclers to dispose of this waste will not rise on 1 July and will drop to the regional rate of $70 per tonne from 1 January 2020.
Schedule 1 licence fees will also rise, in addition to annual CPI increases. This increase reflects the cost of maintaining a 24-hour emergency response team for serious environmental incidents and emergencies, and the community engagement support we provide to business.
The EPA will be working with peak bodies and industry during the implementation phase.
Landfill guideline updated
The EPA has released an updated guideline for the management of landfill facilities in South Australia.
The new guidance recognises the changing nature of residual waste composition, and the need to design and operate landfill facilities that take into account the changing chemical and physical composition of residual waste.
The revised guideline reflects best-practice engineering design and construction, based on a revised classification system, as well as new operational practices such as daily cover and resource recovery activities, and expanded guidance on obligations surrounding closure, post-closure and landfill gas.
The structure of the guideline now reflects each of the design and construction elements as an integrated system, with regulatory and operational controls.
Before updating the guideline, the EPA began engaging with the waste industry and stakeholders in October 2017, with a consultation period in mid-2018 that included an invitation for submissions, running workshops and meeting with licensees.
The EPA will continue to work with licensees on an individual basis to review design, construction, operation, closure and post-closure obligations, and where changes to site practices are identified, the EPA will amend licence conditions in accordance with Section 45 of the Environment Protection Act 1993.
Read the Environmental Management of Landfill Facilities – solid waste disposal (2019) or a summary of submissions received during the consultation period.
For further information about the updated guideline, please contact the EPA on (08) 8204 2004 or email@example.com
Site contamination audits
A draft of the updated Guidelines for the site contamination audit system is now available for comment following a review by the EPA.
The proposed revisions include published guidance and instruction notes to auditors, as well as some new mandatory guideline requirements (MGRs) and updates to existing MGRs.
The guidelines were last reviewed in 2015, and required an update to reflect current best practice.
Have your say by reading the draft guidelines and filling out the online submission form before 31 May 2019.
For more information, contact the EPA Site Contamination Branch by phone on 8204 9934 or by email.
Test results in for Brighton and Unley
The latest results of soil and groundwater contamination testing in Brighton and Unley have brought good news for residents.
In Brighton, tetrachloroethene (PCE) from a former dry cleaning shop was discovered in an area bounded by Brighton Road, The Crescent and Jetty Road.
Preliminary assessment work found significant concentrations of the chemical in soil vapour, and further testing was carried out on six properties nearest the highest concentrations.
Results showed that the homes were not at risk of vapour intrusion, but groundwater is contaminated and should not be used for any purpose.
Home-grown produce remains safe to eat so long as it has not been irrigated with bore water.
In Unley, testing for groundwater and soil vapour contamination was undertaken in an area bounded by Charles Lane, Little Charles Street, Mary Street and Tyne Place.
There had been concern over past industrial practices associated with a number of historical industries including refrigeration and furniture making.
However, further assessment has ruled out both groundwater contamination and any risk of soil vapour intrusion.
People who were formerly told not to use groundwater have now been informed that their bores are safe to use.
For more information on areas being assessed for site contamination, visit the Assessment areas page.
Unannounced inspections at Dry Creek
Authorised officers from the EPA visited the Dry Creek industrial area at the end of March to make unannounced inspections at business sites.
Operation Enviroscan focused on compliance with the Environment Protection Act and general environmental duty, and providing advice on better practices where required.
Officers visited 12 businesses on nine sites, resulting in one expiation for a breach of licence conditions, one expiation for breach of water quality policy and three follow-up advisory letters for minor issues.
Generally, businesses were compliant with their licence conditions, while sites that did not require a licence were compliant with their general environmental obligations.
Houseboat grey water requirements updated
New requirements have been approved for houseboats that will allow owners to install greywater systems that are cheaper, more effective and more efficient.
The original ‘Code of practice for vessel and facility management (marine and inland waters)’ was developed in 2008 after extensive consultation with the industry.
The code included the option for containing or treating greywater on board the vessel as requested by boat owners, but in recent years, issues arose with a commercially-available on-board treatment system, as well as maintenance requirements that applied to other systems.
The EPA and industry have worked together to initiate an alternative, cost-effective and sustainable solution to alleviate any outstanding compliance concerns.
After testing and advice from its in-house scientists, the EPA has endorsed this alternative system in the updated code of practice.
Greywater from galley sinks will now be contained on board, then pumped to land for disposal due to its potential to carry pathogens, and materials such as oil, grease, waste solids and detergents.
Greywater from bathrooms and laundries represents a lower risk and can be treated on board using a residential greywater system with a bromination/chlorination function before being discharged back to the river.
The revised code of practice highlights the importance and value of government and industry working in partnership to establish practices for the ongoing benefit of the whole community.
Fine for illegal tanning bed operator
A Glenelg man has been convicted and fined $600 plus $800 in prosecution costs in the Adelaide Magistrates Court over an illegal tanning operation at Somerton Park.
Luke Andrew Mason, 31, pled guilty to a single count of operating a cosmetic tanning service for fee at the TanEzy Spray Tan Salon on Brighton Road, a business that has since closed down.
Owning a tanning bed for personal use is not against the law, but it has been illegal to charge for the service since 2015.
The Cancer Council has warned in the past that the use of tanning beds is associated with an increased risk of cancer, and that no solaria are safe to use.
The EPA hopes that the latest fine will send a warning to anyone thinking of operating or working in illegal solaria.
When EPA officers inspected the TanEzy premises, they found six operational tanning beds, one of which was in use.
While Mr Mason did not own this business, he was a paid employee and he was responsible for the operation of the equipment at the time.
The maximum penalty for the illegal use of solaria is $10,000.
Anyone with information about the illegal use of solaria should contact the EPA on 8204 2000, or 1800 623 445 outside the metropolitan area.
Soil vapour testing in Albert Park
The Environment Protection Authority will soon begin digging bores to test for hazardous soil vapour in Albert Park.
Eleven bores will be dug on nature strips in an area bounded by Murray, Botting, Osborne and Main streets in coming weeks.
Depending on the results from the initial bores, the EPA may then approach residents for permission to test on private properties.
Contamination was first reported in the area last year, and is centred on a Murray Street factory used by a number of industries during the post-war period, including a company that manufactured tin cans between 1940 and 1984.
When chemicals enter groundwater, they can emerge from the soil as vapour, and in some cases the vapour can also enter homes, posing a threat to residents.
Basement rooms may be at higher risk of vapour intrusion than above-ground rooms, simply because they are closer to the contaminated groundwater. Anyone in the Albert Park assessment area who has a basement room is encouraged to get in touch with the EPA.
Bore water in the area should not be used for any purpose, but rainwater and mains water are not affected. Home-grown produce is also safe, unless it has been irrigated with bore water.
The principle of ‘polluter pays’ applies for contamination in South Australia, but in cases such as this, where the original polluter can no longer be found or is unable to pay for to remediate the site, the site is declared an ‘orphan site’ and the EPA steps in to inform the community and undertake the necessary work.
For more information on the Albert Park assessment area is available online or by telephoning EPA Community Engagement on 8124 4216.
State of the Environment video
If you’ve been too busy to check out the 2018 State of the Environment Report, or you just prefer your content in a more visual format, then we have the perfect solution for you.
The EPA has released a 3-minute video snapshot to give you a quick rundown of the report, which is produced every five years as a barometer of the state’s environmental health.
The video release coincided with an EPA community forum that offered an opportunity for stakeholders to listen to, and ask questions of, five expert panellists.
The authors of the issues papers featured in the report – Professor Corey Bradshaw from Flinders University, Associate Professor Justin Brookes from the University of Adelaide, and Integrated Coasts Director Mark Western – were joined on the panel by SA State Manager of the Bureau of Meteorology John Nairn and Conservation Council Chief Executive Craig Wilkins.
Topics covered included aquatic ecosystems, biodiversity, coastal protection, climate change, and the role of NGOs in environment protection.
Explore the State of the Environment Report
Truckies doing the right thing
Environment Protection Authority officers monitoring trucks on major northern and southern roads recently found that most truckies were doing the right thing by covering their loads.
The EPA licences waste facilities and transporters, and Operation Cover Up was part of ongoing related ongoing compliance and enforcement.
The day-long operation was carried out in response to the amount of litter on roads, especially on the sides of Port Wakefield Road where it has been causing concern to stock owners as well as being unsightly.
EPA officers observed an average of five heavy vehicles a minute during the operation, ranging from small trucks, tippers and skip bin trucks, to semi-trailers and B-Doubles.
The drivers of the vast majority of the trucks had taken proper measures to secure, contain or cover their loads.
A total of five expiations were issued, though only one was to a licensed waste transporter, indicating that licensed transporters are doing a good job of meeting their environmental obligations.
The fine for the licensed transporter involved litter falling from the truck’s trailer after the driver had dropped a load of waste at the Inkerman landfill.
Officers also issued an expiation to the driver of an unregistered tipper truck travelling along Port Wakefield Road at Lower Light.
A significant amount of onion casings was being blown from the truck’s tray, creating a hazard for other road users.
Rocky River truck crash
About 1200 litres of diesel and 100 litres of engine oil spilled into Rocky River, south of Crystal Brook, after a B-double left the Augusta Highway late last month.
The EPA’s Emergency Response Team attended the site to assist incident controllers the CFS, providing advice on how to reduce environmental harm from the spill.
Staff traced the spill 500m downstream, contaminating water, reeds and the creek bank.
In the hours after the crash, containment socks were deployed to limit the movement of the spill, and contractors were able to remove the majority of diesel from the surface of the water.
The banks were allowed to dry out before the contaminated material was removed, in order to minimise soil loss.
The EPA has continued to work with the CFS and contractors to provide advice on the clean-up and on the long-term impacts of the spill.
Southern Quarries dust prevention
The EPA is requiring Sellicks Hill quarry operator Southern Quarries to strengthen its dust prevention measures in response to ongoing resident concern.
Bluestone and dolomite have been mined at the quarry since the early 1970s, with all mining activities at the site, including the proposed expansion, being regulated by the Department for Energy and Mining.
The quarry also requires an environmental licence from the EPA to cover the management of issues such as dust, stormwater and waste.
The conditions of this licence relating to dust were revised in 2016, with Southern Quarries required to identify potential sources of dust and take all practical steps to minimise dust leaving the site.
A number of measures have already been put in place, but dust remains a cause of concern for local residents.
In response, the EPA has directed Southern Quarries to undertake a variety of measures, including commissioning an independent dust study at the site, installing a 500-tonne storage bin at the secondary sand stockpile, and resealing the entrance road up to and around the weighbridge.
These measures have progressive deadlines ranging from 31 March for the completion of the dust study to 31 October for resealing the road.
Enclosure of other areas, such as the primary dump chute and the tertiary sand open stockpile, will be undertaken over the next 12 to 24 months.
A complete list of requirements and a timetable for their completion, along with further information about environmental regulation at the quarry is available online.
Record fine for illegal waste depot operator
A South Australian demolition and asbestos contractor has received a record fine in the Environment, Resources and Development Court for operating an illegal waste depot.
Port Adelaide Salvage SA Pty Ltd and its director Maurizio Corsaro were fined a total of $72,000 plus costs for operating illegal waste depots at two sites in the northern Adelaide Hills.
The first count related to activities at a Highbury quarry between August and November 2012.
Port Adelaide Salvage was fined $44,000 for this operation – the largest fine ever handed down in SA for an offence of this nature.
Notably, the court sentenced on the basis that the company avoided $30,000 of dumping fees through this illegal activity.
Mr Corsaro was fined another $10,000 as an individual, with the two parties sharing costs of $3850.
A second business, EM Earthmovers, had already been found guilty of operating the unlawful waste depot at the quarry and was fined more than $24,000 plus costs in August 2018.
EPA investigations estimated that between 64,000 and 137,000 m3 of construction and demolition waste had been dumped in the quarry, at the corner of Lower North East and Churchett roads.
Mr Corsaro also pled guilty to a second count of operating an illegal waste depot later at a property at Range Road South, Houghton between January and August 2015, and was fined another $18,000 plus $3350 in costs.
EPA Manager, Investigations and Tactical Support, Stephen Barry said the second offence was particularly disappointing, as Mr Corsaro was well aware of his environmental responsibilities, having already been the subject of an EPA investigation in 2012.
EPA authorised officers observed numerous tipper trucks entering and leaving the Houghton property. An estimated 1450 tonnes of waste was stockpiled at the site, including metal, construction waste and green waste.
Advice from the Country Fire Service during the Houghton investigation indicated the waste stockpile represented a significant fire risk because it was so close to native vegetation.
Mr Barry said unlicensed operations did not only pose a threat to the environment and the community.
“They also undermine the operation of legitimate waste and recycling businesses whose operators do the right thing,” he said.
Both the Highbury and Houghton sites were the subject of Environment Protection Orders, and have since been remediated at the defendants’ expense.
Environmental licence for channel dredging
The Environment Protection Authority will issue Flinders Ports with an environmental licence to govern dredging operations as it widens the Outer Harbor shipping channel.
Licence conditions are still being finalised, but will include measures to minimise the loss of seagrass and the spread of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) and the invasive pest plant Caulerpa taxifolia from the Port River.
These conditions take into account the 85 submissions we received from stakeholders and members of the public during the consultation period at the end of last year.
Before dredging can start, Flinders Ports will be required to satisfy Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) that they can reduce the risk of the spread of POMS.
Seagrass is a vital part of a healthy marine ecosystem, and minimising its loss was a major consideration in granting the licence.
Some loss of seagrass is inevitable in an operation of this nature, but the licence conditions aim to contain it to the immediate area around the channel as far as possible.
When channel dredging took place in 2005-6, turbidity in the water was a major cause of seagrass loss because the sand stirred up blocked the light to the plants.
To combat this, dredging operations will not start until autumn and will be condensed into the shortest timeframe possible.
There will also be turbidity monitoring while work is under way, with real-time alarms and stop-work triggers if the water becomes too cloudy.
Other conditions include monitoring of seagrass before, during and after dredging, and the presence of qualified marine mammal observers to prevent harm to the Port River dolphins.
Spoil from the dredging operation will be disposed of in the gulf, at the same site as was used during the last channel widening, after it was determined that land-based disposal would be too great a risk to delicate coastal ecosystems.
Read more about the environmental licensing process for the channel widening process.
Holden closure complete
The EPA made its final site inspection as part of the closure of the GMH plant at Elizabeth in late December.
GMH was one of the first manufacturing facilities in South Australia to have modern closure and post-closure conditions added to its environmental licence, and the first to surrender its licence under the EPA’s more formalised closure system.
The closure was carefully planned, with the car maker submitting formal closure and post-closure plans to the EPA in November 2016.
When the final car rolled off the production line eleven months later, implementation of the plan began.
Closure plans typically cover demolishing buildings and other infrastructure, decommissioning and decontaminating equipment, removing and disposing of waste, managing contaminated soil, monitoring and managing emissions, carrying out community engagement and how the site will be managed after it is closed.
The site has now been handed over to new owners Pelligra, who plan to turn it into a business park.
For more information on creating closure and post-closure plans, read the guideline.
Further TCE vapour testing to take place in Beverley
A new round of groundwater and vapour testing will begin this month in parts of Beverley where the aquifer is contaminated with chemicals, including trichloroethene (TCE).
The contamination is associated with Beverley’s long manufacturing history.
In the past, chemicals were often disposed of by being poured onto the ground in the belief that they would evaporate. There were also accidental spills and leaks over the years that soaked into the soil.
Because of this contamination, the EPA has been advising residents in this area since 2008 that they should not to use their bore water for any purpose.
TCE in groundwater can also result in vapours rising through the soil and entering buildings.
A number of homes in Beverley tested positive for TCE vapours inside during the last round of assessments in 2017, and three of those with higher levels have already been fitted with underfloor ventilation systems that extract the contaminated air.
Another 13 homes were found to have lower vapour concentrations, either in internal air or under their floors. They showed levels that were not considered to pose any immediate health risk, but still warranted ongoing investigation.
These properties will be retested in coming weeks, and we have recommended that they should have ventilation systems installed as a precaution.
Seasonal soil vapour testing of the EPA’s existing network of bores in the Beverley area will also take place in February and March, and there will be another opportunity for indoor air testing for residents who did not take part in 2017.
Soil in the area is not contaminated, making it safe to eat home-grown produce so long as it has not been irrigated with bore water.
Read more about the Beverley assessment area.
Licensing for petrol stations
South Australia’s 600-plus petrol station operators have recently received a notice providing information about the requirement for them to hold an EPA licence from January 2020.
The notice invites operators to provide feedback on the fee structure for petrol station licences and to indicate how they would like to be engaged in the implementation of the new requirement.
The South Australian Government recently added petrol stations to the list of activities of environmental significance that require authorisation under the Environment Protection Act 1993, in recognition of the issues caused by aging or leaking underground storage tanks.
The new requirement takes effect from January 2020, after which it will be illegal to operate a service station in SA without the appropriate licence.
The EPA has already met with industry associations and groups, and is now inviting individual operators to take part in a survey that will help inform the design and implementation of the licensing process.
Initially, the EPA will grant a licence on application to all petrol stations currently licensed under the Petroleum Products Regulation Act 1995, and will be in touch with operators in coming months with information on how to apply.
If you are a service station operator and have not yet been contacted by the EPA, or you have further questions, please contact Tobias Hills at firstname.lastname@example.org or (08) 8204 2004.
Changes to prescribed activities under the Environment Protection Act 1993
Administrative changes to the Environment Protection Act 1993 (EP Act), Schedule 1 – Prescribed activities of environmental significance will come into effect on 1 June 2019.
Schedule 1 of the Act sets out activities that require an authorisation from the Environment Protection Authority, usually in the form of a licence.
The changes will not affect who needs to have a licence or licence requirements. The only exception is fish processing, where the trigger for when a licence is required has been reduced.
Licence fees and conditions will not change as a result of these amendments.
The amendments will:
- better reflect modern terminology;
- make it clearer when environmental authorisation is required;
- better differentiate between waste activities to simplify regulation and reporting on industry character; and
- take into account changes to the EP Act due to the introduction of the Environmental Protection (Waste Reform) Amendment Act 2017.
You can also expect to see changes to licence activity reference numbers and/or phrasing after the changes take effect.
Read a summary of the upcoming changes and further information.
For further information on this matter, please contact Doug Johnston on 8204 2027 or email@example.com.
Test your bore water this summer
Bore use is at its peak in summer, so there’s no better time to have your water tested to ensure it's safe.
The Environment Protection Authority is running its annual “It’s best to test” campaign to remind gardeners of the importance of regular testing for their bore water.
Most home bores tap into shallow aquifers, and these are the ones affected by historical contamination.
Metropolitan Adelaide has been home to a wide range of industrial activities over the years, and this has resulted in chemicals such as heavy metals, hydrocarbons, pesticides and nitrates leaching into the soil and contaminating the groundwater.
In most cases of contamination, the EPA advises people not to use their groundwater, but sometimes when the contamination is severe and widespread, a groundwater prohibition area is declared, like those in place in Edwardstown, Glenelg East, and Flinders Park.
Aquifers are notoriously difficult to decontaminate, and once they are polluted, they are likely to remain so for many years to come, so anyone who has been told not to use their bore water in the past should not start using it again.
Even if their bore is not polluted, it risks spreading the plume of contamination further.
It is safe to eat fruit and vegetables grown in areas with contaminated aquifers, so long as the produce has not been irrigated with bore water.
Deeper bores, like those typically used by councils and schools for watering large spaces, are also safe.
Container deposit review under way
A review of the South Australian container deposit scheme (CDS) is under way, with key stakeholders and the community being invited to share their thoughts.
The scoping paper, Improving South Australia’s Recycling Makes Cents, is the start of a conversation on how we can build on our success and improve the effectiveness of the CDS in recycling and litter reduction.
Introduced in 1977, South Australia’s CDS is a highly successful environmental program, reducing litter and recovering valuable resources.
Almost 603 million containers, or 42,912 tonnes of glass, cardboard and aluminium, were returned to collection depots for recycling in 2017-18.
Discussions are under way with key stakeholders to identify the issues and options that will be the focus of the review.
These stakeholder discussions and public consultation will inform a CDS review discussion paper for stakeholder and community consultation in mid-2019.
The CDS review is running at the same time as a review of single-use plastics led by Green Industries SA.
A discussion paper, Turning the tide on single-use plastic products, seeks to further the public conversation around a range of plastic products that are having a serious impact on our environment.
Both consultations run until 22 February.