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One year milestone with Dob in a Litterer
The Dob in a Litterer program in South Australia is gaining momentum from the local community as more than 1300 reports of littering from vehicles have been lodged through the program in its first year.
The program launched on 1 February 2017, is part of the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016 and has been developed to support the South Australian Government’s commitment to introducing a public litter reporting system.
Since the program’s implementation, cigarette butts have accounted for approximately 80% of all reports received, with other items including beverage containers (4.9%), fast food packaging (2.6%), paper (11%) and green waste (0.3%).
A total of 315 warning letters have been issued and around 800 fines sent to motorists across South Australia.
Fines range from $210 for general litter, $500 for hazardous litter which includes lit cigarettes and glass, and $1000 for larger quantities of litter.
South Australians are encouraged to continue to support the program and report litter being thrown from vehicles to keep our streets and our environment clean.
Reports can be made via the Dob in a Litterer app or website.
The app can be downloaded for free from the Apple and Google stores.
The latest statistics are available every month showing totals since reporting first commenced in February 2017.
This is also summarised in a downloadable spreadsheet on the Data SA website.
South Australia bans PFAS
The South Australian government has banned the use of fluorinated fire-fighting foams in the state following amendments to the Environment Protection (Water Quality) Policy 2015.
The amendments make South Australia the first state to ban the use of potentially hazardous fluorinated firefighting foams through legislation.
The EPA’s Chief Executive, Tony Circelli said the ban on fluorinated firefighting foams will effectively negate further environmental and human health risks associated with their use.
“The changes will provide the community and industry with certainty around the use of these products,” he said.
“The EPA will work directly with industry needing to transition through licensing, guidance and the development of environment improvement programs.
“We consulted with industry, community and individuals from April 2017 on the proposed ban and found there was strong support for the ban
Considerable work is also underway nationally, led by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, in the management of legacy contamination from fluorinated firefighting foams.
Australia’s first PFAS National Environmental Management Plan (NEMP) has been endorsed and provides governments with a consistent and practical risk-based framework for environmental regulation of PFAS contaminated materials and sites.
Environmental assessment works for more Adelaide suburbs
Suburbs being assessed are Brighton, Thebarton and South-eastern Edwardstown
There is a continued focus on environmental assessments across Adelaide with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) beginning works at Brighton, south of the CBD.
The environmental assessment activities began in March to determine if contamination exists in the area.
The EPA is aware that an area within the suburb, bounded by Jetty Road, Brighton Road and The Crescent, has known chemicals such as tetrachloroethene (also known as PCE) detected in soil vapour. These chemicals are generally linked to historical industrial use and manufacturing activities, including dry cleaning.
The assessment activity will determine the nature and extent of the soil vapour contamination.
The works being done will provide further information about any risk to human health and if groundwater is impacted by PCE which can move up through the soil as vapour.
The assessment area includes about 150 properties, a mix of residential and commercial premises.
Environmental assessment activities in the area are part of a prioritised program developed to investigate orphan sites where the EPA has enough information about previous land use to call for assessments to determine if there is a potential health risk.
Environmental assessments under this program have occurred across metropolitan Adelaide including Unley, Edwardstown, Thebarton, Glenelg East, Hendon and Beverly/Woodville West and Woodville South.
Residents were this month provided with welcome news that all properties in the area are safe from soil vapour intrusion.
The results follow extensive testing as part of the EPA’s priority program to determine if groundwater has been contaminated with trichloroethene (TCE).
Stage 2 of environmental assessments are being carried out in Thebarton, just west of the Adelaide’s CBD, as part of continued monitoring of groundwater and soil vapour contamination in that area. The works will commence this month and will provide seasonal information on soil vapour data.
Last year a small number of homes were found to have trichloroethene (TCE) detected in residential indoor air. A state of the art mitigation system is currently being installed in these properties.
Landmark decision on waste definition in ERD court outcome
The EPA has welcomed the Environment Resource and Development (ERD) Court’s decision in sentencing Adelaide Resource Recovery after an appeal found the company breached the Environment Protection Act 1993.
Adelaide Resource Recovery (ARR) was convicted last month for failing to comply with its EPA licence condition for storage of construction and demolition waste (mixed) undercover at its waste depot in Wingfield between September and October 2013.
ARR was also fined $25,000, ordered to pay $160 Victims of Crime levy and ordered to pay the complainant a lump sum of $8,250 for counsel fees, $2000 for an outline of submissions as well as 85 per cent of other legal costs to the Crown.
The matter arose out of ARR’s view that the material in question was not waste and hence not subject to EPA’s conditions and regulation.
In sentencing Judge Costello said there was no existence of any real ambiguity. Despite some processing of the material occurring it still came within the definition of waste in the Act.
His Honour held that if the construction and demolition waste had been stored undercover, it would have presented less of a potential risk to the surrounding environment.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said this successful outcome in the Courts is significant as it provided greater clarity for the waste industry around what is deemed waste and what can be claimed as a product, an area of contention for the sector in South Australia and nationally.
“This case upholds and reinforces the EPA’s regulatory approach and policies relevant to the waste sector. Licence conditions are placed on companies to ensure the environment and community are protected from harm and that waste depots manage waste responsibility to meet these obligations.
“This has been a protracted matter with the EPA appealing the initial decision of the ERD Court. On appeal by the EPA, the Full Court of the Supreme Court in February 2017 found ARR guilty of contravening a condition of their EPA licence by storing Construction and Demolition Waste (Mixed) out in the open.
“While the EPA acknowledges the improvements ARR has made to its waste storage practices since this event, the EPA will continue to take regulatory action against companies that contravene their environmental authorisations. More serious contraventions will be pursued through the court system,” Mr Circelli said.
Response and recovery after fire at Thomas Foods International
The EPA joined the South Australian Government taskforce in January for the response and recovery efforts following a significant fire at one of the state’s largest processing plants.
Fire severely damaged the Thomas Foods International’s abattoir site at Murray Bridge, with a collective and intensive effort from the South Australian government, TFI and community to work through the complexities and logistics of the incident to ensure safety at the site and the company’s continued operations.
As the environmental regulator, the EPA worked to ensure all measures were taken to prevent environmental harm with the EPA’s priority to provide an urgent response to the incident.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said the quick response and action prevented damage to waterways.
“The EPA and DEWNR (River Murray Operations and ecologists), local residents and a local earthmoving company took swift action following the incident at Thomas Foods International to protect waterways including the River Murray and the Rocky Gully wetland. This action also meant that they were able to safeguard two nationally protected species of fish in the wetland,” he said.
“Testing on site in the days after the fire in the waterways showed normal water quality conditions and no signs of adverse impacts,” he said.
The testing included ecological assessment of the drain adjacent to the Thomas Foods International abattoir, which feeds directly into the Rocky Gully Wetland then to the River Murray.
“This is a longer-term process and the EPA is working with other agencies and TFI on effective water management of the water canals on the TFI Murray Bridge premises to minimise any potential environmental harm in the future,” Mr Circelli said.
The EPA has also continued to work with TFI on the appropriate transport and removal of animal carcasses destroyed or spoiled by the fire as well as inspected the landfill to make sure that the disposal complied with the licence conditions to reduce any nuisance issues such as odour.
All trucks involved in the disposal of the carcasses were required to be rinsed at the landfill after delivery before returning to the TFI site to reduce odour in the area.
The EPA and other agencies are continuing to proactively work with TFI to identify how the local water and sewer network can best support a planned increase in processing at Lobethal, while limiting impacts on the environment and community.