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EPA welcomes court judgements on waste cases
The EPA has welcomed two significant Appeal decisions handed down by the Full Court of the Supreme Court this month.
In the matter of EPA v Adelaide Resource Recovery (ARR), the EPA successfully appealed a 2015 ruling of the Environment Resources and Development (ERD) Court that ARR had not breached its licence by storing construction and demolition waste in an area that was not covered at its Hanson Road, Dry Creek site.
The Supreme Court found that on the evidence, the material in the stockpiles was waste that predominantly comprised construction and demolition material and this should have been stored undercover, as required by ARR’s EPA licence.
A conviction was recorded but a second count of storing commercial and industrial waste outside was not proved.
The Court rejected ARR’s argument that the material in the stockpiles had become “product” rather than “waste”. It found that receipt of waste with the intent to process and then sell it as a product does not necessarily mean that it has material that was no longer waste and therefore no longer subject to EPA licence requirements.
The Court ruled that it will be a question of fact and degree as to when the waste has suitably changed its character and become a product which requires consideration of whether there is an economic demand and immediate market for that material.
In a another similar case, the Full Court dismissed and Adelaide City Council (ACC) appeal and upheld a decision in the ERD Court that found ACC guilty of breaching two counts of its licence by failing to cap the former Wingfield landfill by 31 October, 2012.
A landfill cap is required to prevent pollution of water, vermin access and uncontrolled release of gas and odour.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said the two cases had reinforced the EPA’s regulatory approach to licensing and regulating waste and waste depots.
“The Supreme Court rulings send a message to industry that the EPA will vigorously pursue breaches of licence conditions through the courts if necessary,” Mr Circelli said.
EPA hosts Port Augusta community information session
A community information session was held in Port Augusta recently and attended by 165 people who learnt more about the current and future management plans for the former power stations site.
The session between 9 am to 9 pm was organised by the EPA, which invited people to drop-in and meet with EPA staff and others face-to-face, including SA Health, DSD (Department of State Development), Flinders Power and the City of Port Augusta.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said enquiries included questions about the actions being undertaken to address dust and odour issues in the area, following a significant dust event in early January.
“It was good to see so many people turn out to this session and discuss a variety of issues including interest in the long term rehabilitation plan for the site, as well as concerns regarding odour from the nearby Bird Lake,” Mr Circelli said.
Mr Circelli also thanked the local community and Port Augusta Council for its interest, attendance and support at the community session.
"The EPA will continue to ensure local environmental issues are addressed and that this community is kept informed,” he said.
The EPA has been engaging with the Port Augusta community extensively with individual phone calls as well as emails, meetings with residents and regular updates to its website.
PFOS and PFOA to be banned in South Australia
The State Government has announced its intention to ban the future use of potentially hazardous firefighting foams containing certain perfluorinated chemicals and substances in South Australia to protect waterways and groundwater.
Environment Minister Ian Hunter said that the EPA would undertake consultation and work with the industry to determine the best approach to implement the ban.
The initiative will make South Australia one of only two states to take such a proactive stance against these chemicals.
The ban will apply to the use of firefighting foams containing PFOS or PFOA or any other chemicals that degrade to PFOS or PFOA.
While the use of firefighting foams containing PFOS and PFOA have been largely phased out in South Australia, some stockpiles of these foams still exist.
“This measure aims to eliminate uncertainty about their future use and potential contamination risks to waterways and groundwater,” Mr Hunter said.
The Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) has stopped using firefighting foams containing PFOS and PFOA and has replaced them with effective alternatives for industrial applications that are not harmful to waterways and groundwater.
The State Government will require any existing stocks of foams containing PFOS or PFOA or chemicals that degrade to PFOS or PFOA be withdrawn from use.
Sellicks Beach air quality monitoring
A study analysing dust particles in the Sellicks Beach area is approaching its end.
The study was initiated by the EPA, and involved the installation of an air quality monitoring station in January last year, with data published on the EPA website.
The study was initiated to provide information on air quality impacts to residents in the Sellicks Beach area in addition to the monitoring required by the EPA from the operator of the nearby Sellicks Hill Quarry.
Director Mining, Radiation and Regulatory Support Keith Baldry said the monitoring program was initiated following concerns about dust levels raised by residents in 2016 and was then extended to provide more comprehensive data across the full year.
“The initial agreed monitoring period, to May 2016, was extended to the end of February 2017,” Mr Baldry said.
“This also provided monitoring for the broader region while additional monitoring was implemented at the neighbouring quarry by its owner Southern Quarries.”
During this period the EPA has been gathering data on levels of dust particles, including the smaller particles that may have health impacts, referred to as PM10 and PM2.5.
It has helped the EPA to compare the impacts on the Sellicks Beach community with those of other South Australian communities.
The EPA will provide a final completion report in April for the 12-month monitoring period that will conclude on 28 February, 2017.
“Preliminary findings have indicated that the air quality in the Sellicks Beach community is typical of that found around other South Australian coastal communities, with some occasionally elevated particle levels under certain conditions throughout the year,” Mr Baldry said.
Air quality particulate standards are set out in the Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016 averaged over 24 hours.
The EPA will continue to undertake an active regulatory role including frequent inspections and audits of the Sellicks Hill Quarry site and reviewing the quarry’s dust controls.
CDL reaches a milestone
South Australia has achieved a milestone in litter management and landfill waste reduction in 2017 with the state’s pioneering Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) reaching its 40th anniversary.
The scheme, which first came into effect in 1977, has made a significant contribution towards helping prevent discarded drink containers from becoming a common sight in streets, parks, beaches and waterways.
EPA Director Mining, Radiation and Regulatory Support, Keith Baldry, said the introduction of disposable drink containers in the 1970s led to a spike in the volume of litter that required an effective response to curb a growing problem.
“Soft drinks and beer were predominantly sold in refillable glass bottles that could be returned to the manufacturer for a refund,” Mr Baldry said.
“The introduction of disposable drink containers drastically changed the way most people handled their empty containers and as a consequence it became common to see soft drink and beer cans littering our streets, parks, beaches and sports venues such as the Adelaide Oval.”
In 1975 the South Australian government introduced container deposit legislation (CDL) to impose a deposit on the purchase price of a range of beverage containers and which are available for refund when the container is returned to a collection point.
“Returning cans and bottles for cash has become part of our way of life here and in 2006 the scheme was declared a Heritage Icon by the National Trust of South Australia,” Mr Baldry said.
“For more than 35 years, South Australia was the only state or territory in Australia with a container deposit scheme until 2012, when the Northern Territory Government introduced a similar scheme”.
New South Wales will introduce a similar scheme in December, with the ACT, Western Australia and Queensland also planning to follow South Australia’s lead in 2018.
“The return rates for CDL containers have remained very high at around 80 percent,” Mr Baldry said.
“This equates to 580 million empty containers that are recycled in South Australia each year, far exceeding recycling rates in other states and territories without this scheme.”
In 2003, the South Australian Government extended the scheme to cover a wide range of beverages including non-carbonated soft drinks, pure fruit juice and flavoured milk.
Dob in a Litterer through a new app
South Australians can now report littering through a new app that encourages people to 'Dob in a Litterer'.
This latest tool which has been developed by the EPA to discourage littering, coincides with the introduction of the litter provisions of the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016 that came into effect from the start of this month.
The free app is available through the EPA website, Android and Apple phones and tablets.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said the app features photo capabilities to capture littering incidents from vehicles including the registration number.
“The Dob in a Litterer app is designed to target litter such as cigarette butts, lit cigarettes, fast food packaging and drink containers, discarded from any vehicle including trailers,” Mr Circelli said.
“Other features include drop-down-menus to identify the type, model and colour of the offending vehicle and a map to determine the exact location where the littering took place.”
Information can be dispatched immediately to be investigated by the EPA but must be lodged within 14 days of the alleged offence.
“An expiation notice will be issued to the vehicle owner if the registration details are matched and verified,” Mr Circelli said.
The expiation fee for littering varies from $210 for small amounts of general litter, and from $500 up to $1,000 for Class B hazardous litter.
Class B hazardous litter includes live cigarettes, used syringes and glass.
Cases of illegal littering involving kerbside or roadside dumping must still be reported to a local council where the incident has taken place.
Test the quality of your bore water
The EPA has launched a campaign reminding property owners with backyard bores to test the quality of their groundwater if they haven’t done so in recent years.
The bore water summer campaign is an extension of a similar program that took place over the same period last year to increase public awareness of groundwater contamination and to remind residents to test this type of water to determine whether it is suitable for it intended use.
The precautionary measure aims to eliminate any uncertainty of the quality of water which is sourced from bores that can vary between areas in Adelaide’s suburbs and the Mount Lofty Ranges.
EPA Chief Executive, Tony Circelli said the use of untested bore water for watering vegetables, washing, or for children to play in, can pose a health risk.
“This is particularly important for residential bores which tend to be drilled to the shallowest groundwater depth where contamination is more likely to be located compared to commercial or industrial bores which are at greater depths, where contamination is less likely to occur,” Mr Circelli said.
“Our city is no different to most other industrialised cities around Australia and worldwide where groundwater contamination exists in many areas across Adelaide, especially in the suburbs or near former industrial land,” he said.
“Groundwater can have chemical contaminants from past industrial and agricultural activities and anyone in the Adelaide metropolitan area who uses groundwater for cooking, bathing, watering the garden or filling up a swimming pool, should be aware of the water quality.”
Whilst private users aren't legally required to test their groundwater, the EPA is reminding all bore users of the SA Health advice to do so regularly at least once every two years, to ensure their water is safe for its intended use.
Mains water and water from rainwater tanks are not affected by contamination and home grown fruit and vegetables are safe to consume, provided that they are not being watered with contaminated bore water.
The Australian Water Quality Centre test can test bore water for chemicals by phoning 1300 653 366.
A searchable index of identified sites with groundwater contamination is available on the EPA website.
Torrens Lake algae control trial underway for 2016–17
The annual project to control blue-green algae in the Torrens Lake during summer has begun with a recent release of fresh water from upstream storages.
The increased flow of water was used to dilute any potential blue-green algae in the lake, preventing any build-up in the weeks before Christmas as an essential first step in protecting the lake from summer into the autumn events season.
Professor Chris Daniels, chair of the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board, said the recent trial marked the sixth year of the River Torrens Water Quality Improvement Project, which has been successful in preventing lake closures for the past four years.
He said while fresh water flows had been a major part of the project since its inception, further trialling of hydrogen peroxide as an algaecide is also planned, following a successful small scale pilot last season.
“The Torrens Lake is one of the city’s major public spaces and the backdrop for many of the major events held in Adelaide during summer and early autumn,” Prof. Daniels said.
“It’s important that we make a real effort to limit blue-green algal blooms that might result in the closure of the lake during the events season,” he said.
“And what’s really pleasing to see is that the management techniques we’ve developed through the project have been successful for the past four seasons in preventing closures due to blue-green algal blooms.”
Prof. Daniels said the River Torrens Water Quality Improvement Project had been initiated by the SA Government to address the problems of blue-green algae in Torrens Lake.
From the late 1990s until 2011, Torrens Lake was closed every year for some period over summer due to the presence of blue-green algae.
This type of algae can discolour water, form scums, produce unpleasant odours and release toxins that can be harmful to both humans and wildlife.
The River Torrens Water Quality Improvement Project was a recommendation of the Torrens Taskforce, a group of scientists and engineers asked to investigate the problems of the River Torrens.
The project was developed with the support of the Environment Protection Authority, Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board, the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, SA Water and Adelaide City Council.
Further updates on the River Torrens project during summer is available.
Waste reform consultation
Public consultation on the draft Environment Protection (Waste Reform) Bill 2016 concluded last month bringing to a close a series of forums over a three month period that took place in metropolitan Adelaide and six regional areas.
More than 100 people took part in these sessions with most attendees coming from local government with KESAB representatives also participating.
EPA officers also attended industry events such as the KESAB awards and the Local Government Association (LGA) Annual General Meeting to discuss the Bill and broader waste reforms.
Feedback has validated that illegal dumping continues to be an issue of significant concern and support for improved powers to more effectively tackle the issue.
A summary report of issues raised during the consultation period will be prepared and shared with those who participated in the consultation with most submissions to be placed on the EPA website next year.
EPA Chief Executive retires as AELERT Chair
The Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators NeTwork (AELERT) is a well-respected and internationally recognised professional network for environmental regulators across Australia and New Zealand.
The AELERT Steering Committee was held in Sydney last month where EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli formally announced his retirement as Chair after three years in the role but remains a member of the Executive Committee.
“I will continue as Chair until October 2017 to facilitate the transition of AELERT’s governance and forward work priorities at which time, Mark Gifford (Chief Regulator, NSW EPA) will formally take over this role,” Mr Circelli said.
During his term as Chair AELERT experienced substantial growth to its network in addition to the development of best practice approaches in key areas such as emergency response, better regulation and communications and engagement.
“One of AELERT’s key focus areas this year was to deliver a series of cost-effective and easily accessible professional development opportunities to members while continuing to add valuable operational resources to the AELERT website,” Mr Circelli said.
Tony has also recently been appointed to the Board of CRC Care, as representative of the Heads of Environment Protection Authorities (HEPA).
CRC CARE an independent organisation which is regarded nationally and worldwide as a leading innovative research organisation that performs research, develops technologies and provides policy guidance for assessing, cleaning up and preventing contamination of soil, water and air.
Department of Defence engages community on PFAS issue
The Department of Defence has begun working on a national review on its use of fire-fighting foams that contain chemicals known as per and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS).
This followed the identification of PFAS at Defence bases in New South Wales and Queensland where it is known to have migrated to groundwater and nearby water bodies.
The review also indicated that the Edinburgh Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base was among 16 sites across Australia that had been using fire-fighting foams containing PFAS before these substances were phased-out almost a decade ago.
The Department of Defence held two community sessions at Smithfield near its Edinburgh RAAF Base on 31 October and 1 November 2016 with approximately 40–50 people attending over the two days.
The sessions were held to provide local residents and business owners with an opportunity to discuss the environmental investigation into PFAS.
Following advice from the EPA, the Department of Defence has committed to meeting with local community farming groups and holding further meetings to update the community in early 2017.
The Department of Defence announced that a detailed environmental investigation at RAAF Base Edinburgh commenced in November to identify PFAS on, and in the vicinity of the base.
EPA replaces computers for schools and community groups
The EPA estimates that it has given away around 630 computers including monitors and printers since becoming involved in a program aimed at helping South Australian schools and community groups.
EPA Director Strategy and Business Roslyn Agate said CRS has elevated South Australia to the nation’s leader in ICT e-waste management.
“This program has provided thousands of PCs from government departments including the EPA,” she said.
“It means that schools and community groups receive much-needed equipment and by extending the life of these computers, we are reducing waste going to landfill.”
CRS also runs the Special Needs Initiative that provides ICT equipment to children on a Negotiated Education Plan (NEP) in special needs schools and classes and to children in state care.
Crematoria industry audit
The EPA has completed an audit of the crematoria industry sector in 2016 and has prepared a report on its findings.
The audit was considered timely with Australia’s planned ratification of the latest tranche of chemicals listed in the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), including pentachlorobenzene which can be emitted during the cremation process.
A review of mercury emissions from this sector was also undertaken as part of this audit because of the planned ratification of the Minamata Convention on mercury.
The audit aimed to assess compliance with EPA licence conditions for the sector and suitability of current licence conditions as well as to review the current operating methods and pollution control equipment utilised at each site.
This was done to determine whether sites would be affected by the planned ratification of the Stockholm and Minamata conventions.
The audit found:
- General compliance with EPA conditions regarding the minimisation of smoke and odour.
- All cremators designed after 2006 were operated in line with Best Available Techniques and Best Environmental Practice (BAT/BEP) guidance to minimise pentachlorobenzene and other POPs.
- Some, but not all, cremators designed and constructed prior to 2006 are not operating in line with this guidance for part or all of the cremation process and may be affected by the planned ratification of the latest tranche of chemicals listed in the Stockholm Convention on POPs.
The EPA will now seek to implement the audit recommendations to develop new standard EPA licence conditions for this sector and prepare position statements to better communicate the EPA’s requirements to the industry.
A message from Chief Executive Tony Circelli
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported the EPA’s work during 2016 including stakeholders, licensees, colleagues and members of the community and our loyal Monitor readers.
As the year draws to a close, I extend my warmest wishes and sincere thanks to everyone who has contributed towards enhancing our enviable South Australian lifestyle through commitment, planning and hard work to achieve more sustainable outcomes for our environment.
2017 will no doubt will bring additional challenges and opportunities.
In the meantime, I wish everyone a safe and relaxing festive season.
Have a safe and enjoyable festive season
The next edition of Monitor will be published in February 2017 after a short break.
The EPA Communication and Media Branch wishes our readers a safe and enjoyable Christmas and New Year and we will be back with more interesting news items in 2017.
Operation Cover Up
The EPA has been targeting irresponsible truck drivers who fail to properly cover waste material while being transported, that could pose a health and safety risk to the community.
Since the recommencement of Operation Cover-Up recently, the EPA identified many trucks in the Adelaide CBD and on metropolitan roads with uncovered loads of waste.
EPA Manager Investigations and Tactical Support, Stephen Barry said most of these vehicles had come from demolition sites and were travelling to waste depots.
“The EPA is investigating these incidents and will be issuing expiation notices for ignoring their obligations under the Environment Protection Act,” Mr Barry said.
“Failing to cover a waste load is an infringement under this legislation that carries a $160 fine,” he said.
Mr Barry said that EPA investigators have also visited demolition sites in the city to remind operators of their responsibility to ensure that trucks leaving their premises are appropriately covered.
“All loads of waste leaving a demolition site must always be covered to reduce the escape of waste and dust from vehicles especially when they are being driven through the city centre or passing by schools, shops and pedestrians,” he said.
“It’s been disappointing that in just one week our investigators discovered more than 40 trucks travelling through the city and metro areas of Adelaide with uncovered loads of waste.
“This type of waste can create a hazard for other road users and ultimately ends up in our stormwater and local waterways.”
The EPA has undertaken enforcement action to underline the importance of safely transport waste throughout South Australia and will continue to run its Operation Cover-Up taskforce on random days to ensure compliance for the protection of public health and the environment.
Feedback sought on Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act regulations
The EPA is seeking feedback on the administration of the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016.
This new legislation was passed in State Parliament in May to enhance the ability of local government to deal with environmental nuisance, Iittering and illegal dumping, and improve community services in the areas of Iocal nuisance and litter regulation.
Regulations have been drafted to support the administration of this Act.
The EPA is seeking feedback on the following two sets of draft regulations:
- Local Nuisance and Litter Control (Amendment of Act, Schedule 1) Regulations 2016.
- These regulations will amend Schedule 1 of the Act and will serve no further role in the administration of the legislation once the changes are affected.
- Local Nuisance and Litter Control Regulations 2016.
- These are the primary regulations that will support the administration of the Act.
Copies of the draft regulations and an explanatory report can be found on the website or can be obtained by calling the EPA on 8204 2105.
Comments on regulations under the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016 are sought by 5 pm, Friday, 2 December 2016 and should be addressed to:
Local Nuisance and Litter Control Regulations
Attention: Manager – Legislation and Policy Reform
Environment Protection Authority
GPO Box 2607
Adelaide SA 5001
(Mark subject line as Local Nuisance and Litter Control Regulations project)
EPA Coordinator Local Government Services
The EPA has appointed a Coordinator Local Government Services, as part of a commitment to assist South Australian councils with the implementation of the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016.
Monica Bosco who has been appointed to this new role has worked as a regulator with the EPA since 2004 and has previous local government experience as an Environment Project Officer with the City of Port Adelaide Enfield.
“My role as an EPA Senior Environment Protection Officer began at the Murray Bridge office where I was primarily involved in issues arising from the drought in 2006,” Monica said.
“Since 2007, I worked in areas of regulation and compliance by managing EPA licensed facilities involving issues of wastewater, waste management, air emissions, odour and dust.”
In Monica’s new role she will coordinate the EPA responsibilities with the implementation of the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016 and ensure that local government receives appropriate support and resources.
The EPA’s commitment to the implementation of the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016 will also involve a team of officers to deliver training, information resources and on-going support for local government in the application of the Act.
“I look forward to working closely with various councils and the Local Government Association to ensure a consistent and relevant delivery of services,” Monica said.
Monica will welcome any relevant enquiries relating to the implementation of the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016 and can be contacted directly by telephone on 8204 2053 or email.
ESCOSA Statement of Intent
ESCOSA chief executive officer Adam Wilson recently signed a Statement of Intent with EPA chief executive Tony Circelli that recognises the strategic linkages between the two regulators.
Mr Circelli said that it also demonstrates a shared desire to work together to assist the performance of both parties' respective roles in the South Australian water and sewerage industries.
“The purpose of this statement is to set out the general principles of how ESCOSA and the EPA will consult and communicate with each other on matters of regulatory overlap or mutual interest,” Mr Circelli said.
“ESCOSA and the EPA have complementary functions in the South Australian water and sewerage industries,” he said.
“Whilst not legally binding, the document sets out clearly that ESCOSA and EPA representatives will strive to work together effectively on co-regulatory matters.”
Fisheries and aquaculture waste recycling
The EPA is supporting the work being done to identify potential opportunities to reduce the unsightly accumulation of plastics and other associated waste that is generated by the aquaculture and fishing sectors on Eyre Peninsula.
Tara Ingerson and Coby Mathews from the EPA aquaculture team attended a forum in Port Lincoln where waste management options for plastics was discussed and consideration for the collection and recycling of waste oyster baskets.
“This idea was initiated at the forum and recognised that this project alone could create up to four South Australian jobs and has been extended to other states including Tasmania and New South Wales,” Tara said.
Other topics discussed included:
- Recycling nets and other plastics into new products, some of which can be reused in the fishing and aquaculture industry that may also result in a new processing facility on Eyre Peninsula.
- The reuse of tuna and finfish rings as irrigation pipes, already occurring in the tuna industry.
- Processing oyster shells and barnacles that are removed from oyster baskets into new products such as poultry feed and agricultural lime fertilisers.
“These opportunities have arisen from EPA environmental surveys with the aquaculture industry by noticing the stockpiles of waste oyster baskets located in a number of land based depots,” Tara said.
This led to the EPA in conjunction with the South Australia Oyster Growers Association (SAOGA) and Regional Development Australia (RDA), to commission a feasibility study into the recycling of oyster baskets which was funded by the former Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy (DMITRE’s) Clever Green Eco-innovation Program.
“To further this study, the Eyre Peninsula Natural Resources Management (NRM) provided funding through the National Landcare Program to investigate opportunities for other fisheries and aquaculture waste streams across Eyre Peninsula that resulted in the production of this report,” Tara said.
“This could be a win-win situation for all involved with less waste heading into landfill, industry adopting the waste management hierarchy and the important creation of economic opportunities for regional areas.”
EPA Authorised Marine Officers
Five EPA staff from the Water Quality Branch recently completed training for accreditation as Authorised Officers under the Marine Parks Act 2007.
This will now enable them to undertake marine compliance activities and give them the authority to issue fines and expiation notices during the course of their duties, similar to Department of Environment Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) authorised officers.
This was identified as an effective way to optimise the use of both EPA and DEWNR resources with many of South Australia's metropolitan sanctuary zones overlapping the EPA's areas of operation.
EPA Director Science Assessment and Planning, Peter Dolan said this offers opportunities to use its resources to protect sanctuary zones by having additional eyes and ears on the water.
“Under this arrangement DEWNR will still be the Iead agency to administer the Marine Parks Act and will not necessarily oblige the EPA to apprehend or prosecute offenders in sanctuary zones,” Mr Dolan said.
“However it will provide an extended capability for this option to help further deter any activity that may pose a threat to these important South Australian marine areas.”
Waste Levy waived for storm affected areas
The state government has waived the waste levy for communities affected by the recent storms.
People who have registered their names in Recovery Centres which were established during the severe weather events in September were issued with a ‘Temporary Incident Card’, and will now be eligible for this offer.
Council waste that is also attributed to the severe weather can also benefit from this concession.
The EPA will administer the waste levy waiver under this temporary arrangement.
Heavy rain and strong winds led to flooding late last month that brought down trees and caused property damage in many locations across South Australia.
EPA Director Strategy and Business Roslyn Agate said this severe weather event resulted in a significant amount of waste including trees, building materials and metals that will require disposal at waste depots.
“The state government has offered to waive the waste levy to assist communities with the cost of waste disposal,” she said.
Organic waste can be received as green waste and will also be exempt from a levy.
Sandbags will be accepted at clean fill rates with no levy when taken to a waste depot for disposal.
This exemption will not apply to the regular gate fee charged by a waste depot.
“The EPA has contacted the councils most-affected by the recent severe weather to advise them of the waiver and outline the process they will need to follow,” Ms Agate said.
The Environment Protection Act 1993 requires the payment of a prescribed levy payable by the licence-holder of a waste depot for all waste received and disposed at that depot.
Waste Reform Bill consultation rounds
The EPA has commenced a public consultation process to inform and seek feedback from South Australians on the draft Environment Protection (Waste Reform) Amendment Bill 2016.
The draft Bill aims to provide the EPA with the necessary tools to improve its methods of tackling illegal dumping and ultimately achieve a series of waste reforms that provide greater certainty in the market place.
It also aims to assist companies to consider more innovative initiatives that will provide economic benefit to the state as well as their own business and promote better environmental outcomes.
The EPA has held consultation forums in Adelaide, Port Augusta, Clare, Mount Gambier, Karoonda and Wudinna with another planned for Mannum next month, where local residents are encouraged to attend.
The last meeting will be held at Mannum on 3 November. Details on this venue can also be found on Eventbrite .
More information and how to provide feedback on the draft Waste Reform Bill.
Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016
The new Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016 (Air Quality EPP) has come into effect to better protect and improve the health of South Australians, their communities and the environment.
The policy reduces the impact of smoke and other air pollutants on communities across the state.
The new policy reflects current understanding of health impacts from air pollution, with the regulation and management of air quality now in line with contemporary practices.
This has not changed any previous practices for prescribed fuel reduction burning.
The key changes to the Air Quality Policy include:
- The EPA taking a ‘whole-of-air-shed’ approach to managing air quality in South Australia
- Regulating the sale and installation of wood heaters, and the sale of firewood
- Streamlining council management of burning in the open through regulation, while ensuring the ability to burn off for bushfire prevention is maintained
- Greater consideration of risk to health and the environment when setting stack emission limits.
The new policy does not require permits for burning-off outside of metropolitan Adelaide and outside of townships beyond metropolitan Adelaide, however burning-off will need to comply with CFS codes of practice to reduce the risk of bushfire.
Further, all necessary burning-off in townships and metropolitan Adelaide will be permitted by general notice or permit, at the discretion of each council.
EPA Operations Director Science, Assessment and Planning, Peter Dolan said that red tape will be reduced for fringe metropolitan councils which under the old policy required permits for every burn undertaken in their rural areas.
“The policy does not apply where a permit has been obtained under the Fire and Emergency Services Act 2005 (CFS permits) or where that Act requires or authorises any fuel reduction burning to occur,” he said.
More details on the Air Quality Policy 2016 are contained in the Public Consultation Report available through the EPA website.
Stay informed by accessing beach advice
The EPA is encouraging beachgoers to subscribe to a seasonal information service this summer that advises when conditions in Adelaide’s beaches are unsuitable for swimming.
EPA Operations Director Science, Assessment and Planning Peter Dolan said Adelaide’s beaches are considered safe and healthy but for about two percent of the time they can be impacted by rainfall or stormwater that is flushed into the sea resulting in discoloured water.
“The EPA runs a seasonal service during the daylight saving period for beachgoers to receive email notifications when the water is discoloured or murky, by subscribing to it through the EPA website,” Mr Dolan said.
“The advice for swimmers to avoid discoloured water is sent during periods of poor water quality which usually follows a major rain event,” he said.
“In summer when the rain is not as frequent, there is a build-up of material trapped in stormwater drains that when it rains, gets flushed into the sea.”
Stormwater is continuously measured near beach outflows that measures both water flow and turbidity.
“When either of the measurements exceed certain levels there is a possibility that beach water quality could be impacted,” Mr Dolan said.
“Stormwater can also reduce visibility in the water, it can smell and could cause a mild illness such as a stomach upset if ingested which is why we issue these warnings to avoid swimming in it when these incidents occur.
Generally after a heavy storm the discoloured water will take about two days to dissipate.
Beachgoers can also choose to receive advice online through Alert SA.
The beaches that are monitored along Adelaide’s metropolitan coastline span from Semaphore in the north to Noarlunga in the south.
For more information and to subscribe to this email alert service, visit the EPA website.
Environmental solutions winner
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli was among 500 guests at the 2016 Business SA Export Awards which was held this month.
A total of 15 high achievers were recognised during the gala evening for their contributions as major exporters.
Mr Circelli who presented the Environmental Solutions Award said the event highlighted a mutual goal shared between the EPA and Business SA by supporting South Australian businesses to be successful and ultimately provide benefits for the state.
“The EPA has a contributing role here, by ensuring that the economic benefits and returns from businesses to South Australia are gained without consequence to the environment or affecting the wellbeing and prosperity of South Australians,” he said.
“Our role goes beyond enforcement requirements of licensed businesses and is more involved and diverse, because a good regulator, is one that also acknowledges and rewards business and industry by supporting good, clean and environmentally sustainable enterprises.”
Mr Circelli presented the Environmental Solutions Award to Sentek Technologies which was selected from of field of four entries by a judging panel.
Each one was assessed on several criteria including its relevance to the category, export growth, their financial position and an international marketing strategy.
“This year’s winner stood out for its technological applications in farming and agriculture to achieve best-practice irrigation methods, a reduction in water, fertiliser and energy use, while increasing crop yields and quality,” Mr Circelli said.
Riverland-based almond processor AlmondCo Australia took out the coveted Business SA Exporter of the Year Award.
EPA Board visits Port Lincoln
The EPA Board toured parts of Port Lincoln recently as part of an engagement program and commitment to visit regional areas in South Australia each year.
EPA Presiding Member Linda Bowes, said Port Lincoln is a major commercial centre on Eyre Peninsula whose economy relies on agriculture, aquaculture, fishing and tourism.
“In fact, Port Lincoln is the seafood and aquaculture capital of Australia, boasting one of the largest protected natural harbours in the world that is three times the size of Sydney Harbour,” she said.
“It is home to the country’s largest commercial fishing fleet and renowned for its Southern Bluefin tuna, King George whiting, western king prawns and Southern Rock lobster.”
The EPA maintains 44 licensees in the Port Lincoln Council area.
Ms Bowes said the Board’s visit demonstrated a commitment for the EPA to work closely with industry and communities, in particular regional areas, to achieve good environmental management and economic outcomes through well-practiced regulation.
The EPA Board toured Boston Bay and viewed kingfish pens and a mussel farm.
It also took part in the Eyre Peninsula Natural Resources Management Board meeting with government and industry and discussed options for future waste management in the aquaculture and fishing sector.
Shack wastewater management plan
The EPA Science, Assessment and Planning team has been working with local councils along the River Murray seeking feedback on a draft shack wastewater management position statement.
Their aim is to raise awareness of the River Murray Water Protection Area and provide clarity to local councils on what the EPA will consider through the planning process.
In recent months the EPA has travelled to Berri, Mannum and Strathalbyn to discuss the draft position statement with all South Australian councils along the River Murray, coinciding with a six week consultation period.
Formal submissions were received from a range of stakeholders including the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR), Mid Murray, Murray Bridge and Berri Barmera councils, together with the Murraylands and Riverland Local Government Association (LGA).
During the consultation process it became evident that development plan policies, which apply in flood and fringe areas, were inconsistent between River Murray councils and raises challenges in addressing wastewater management issues in shack areas.
The EPA is continuing to work with councils, including exploring alternative strategies to effectively influence wastewater management outcomes in shack areas.
The River Murray wastewater management planning position statement and the environmental rationale are available on the EPA website.
Mushroom producer gets an environmental tick
A big tick goes to the South Australian business, Mushroom Exchange, for conducting its compositing activities in a safe and environmentally acceptable manner.
Prior to this EPA-licensed business taking over operations at Monarto, the EPA had previously received a number of complaints for odour at the site, due to the nature of its composting activities.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli who recently visited the site said that the company’s change of ownership has resulted in no complaints about the impacts of its production activities.
“This is a great outcome that should be congratulated,” Mr Circelli said.
“It is a classic case of an organisation taking its environmental responsibilities seriously and doing a great job in executing them.”
Mushroom Exchange now stockpiles long lines of compost on concrete flooring which is equipped with a temperature-controlled aeration system.
Any liquid that drains from the windrow is diverted and collected in a purpose built wastewater lagoon.
The liquid is aerated and treated so it can be reused to moisten straw bales prior to mixing with raw material for further compost production.
In addition, the site also features a purpose-built stormwater lagoon, where stormwater is collected and used to moisten feedstock.
The facility boasts minimum impacts from odour, dust and noise, due to its operations being conducted in an enclosed undercover facility.
Mushroom Exchange is the largest producer, packer and marketer of fresh mushrooms in the Southern Hemisphere.
Waste SA Conference
Delegates at this year’s Waste SA Conference were given an insight into plans for future waste reform initiatives, regulations and enforcement measures for South Australia during a presentation by the EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli.
He also outlined the 2016–17 EPA Corporate Plan which he said is providing a pathway towards a better environment for the wellbeing of all South Australians.
“In the last 12 months the EPA has engaged and worked collaboratively with the community, industry and other government agencies to deliver important initiatives and reforms,” Mr Circelli said.
“This includes making progress towards key waste reforms to improve safety in the management of waste and provide certainty to the resource recovery sector to promote growth and innovation.”
Mr Circelli said the EPA will continue to focus on providing the community and industry a robust regulatory framework that protects the environment, safeguards the community and which promotes a level playing field for industry development.
“We will further develop the capability of the EPA to improve the value of our services to South Australians,” he said.
Retail crackdown on sale of unauthorised containers
An EPA investigation has identified a number of suburban retailers who have been illegally selling drinks in non-compliant containers, flouting South Australia’s container deposit legislation (CDL).
EPA Manager Investigations and Tactical Support Stephen Barry said close to 10,000 unauthorised containers were seized recently from 5 small and independent supermarkets whose owners could face significant penalties.
“Some of these retailers have previously received warnings from the EPA for similar offences and now face penalties as high as $4,000 or $300 fines for each offence,” Mr Barry said.
The EPA is responsible for managing CDL under the Environment Protection Act 1993 where clearly marked and authorised containers sold in South Australia, can each be claimed for a 10-cent refund.
“Beverage suppliers add an extra cost to their product to cover the refund which can be redeemed at South Australian collection depots when the empty container is returned for recycling,” Mr Barry said.
“The non-compliant containers that were seized by the EPA were all imported drinks where the added cost at their point-of-sale did not take place and with each of these not being labelled, rendering them ineligible for a 10 cent refund in South Australia.”
Mr Barry said as South Australia approaches the 40th anniversary of the container deposit scheme, it is important to remind retailers of their responsibilities and reaffirm that penalties will apply to those who disregard this law.
“This scheme has been very successful with an annual average return of around 80% which amounts to around 580 million empty containers that are recycled in South Australia each year,” he said.
“These containers don’t end up polluting our beaches, parks and roadways or end up in a landfill.”
More information on the container deposit scheme is available on the EPA website or by contacting the Investigations and Tactical Support Branch through the EPA Hotline on (08) 8204 2004.
APS Workplace Excellence Awards
The EPA was among the national finalists in this year’s Australian Psychological Society (APS) Workplace Excellence Awards.
These awards presented recently in Melbourne, showcase outstanding psychology programs in workplaces that are developed to improve outcomes and the bottom line.
The EPA had partnered with BDO Industrial and Organisational Psychology to deliver the EPA Aspiring Leaders Development program which was jointly submitted earlier this year for the Awards.
The EPA was subsequently nominated as a finalist in the Award for 'Learning and Development'.
The award recognises outstanding approaches to learning and development that demonstrate strong links to the organisation’s strategy.
Entrants were required to show innovative use of learning process and technology in the program and demonstrate the application of learning content in the workplace by its participants.
EPA HR Manager Special Projects Sue Kite, said it was a hard challenge and although BHP Billiton won the category, it was still a significant achievement for the EPA to be amongst some of the best in this field.
“The Workplace Excellence Awards are an initiative of the APS College of Organisational Psychologists that celebrate exceptional achievement and innovation in the workplace and recognise best practice in organisational psychology,” she said.
“The nomination follows the EPA’s comprehensive approach for the program including 360 degree surveys and two psychometric pre-assessments, coursework, experiential learning, coaching, development plans, rigorous evaluation and follow up refreshers for participants.”
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said by being named a finalist was a recognition of the EPA’s work towards investing in programs that develop future leaders in the public service.
“This reflects on our commitment to develop and encourage the next generation of leaders from within our organisation,” Mr Circelli said.
Solarium operator convicted
The EPA hopes a recent decision on solaria use and advertising will deter others in the community.
Jake Martin-Herde 28, of Salisbury Downs appeared in the Adelaide Magistrates Court in August for sentencing on two charges of offering and providing cosmetic tanning for a fee to the public despite a ban since 1 January 2015.
He was found in possession of three tanning beds offered for use and advertised through social media as 'a service' under the trade names 'Sharelarium' and 'Jake Sharelarium'.
Chief Magistrate Mary-Louise Hribal ruled in favour of the EPA under the Radiation Protection and Control (Non-Ionising Radiation) Regulations 2013.
She acknowledged that while individuals were able to own solariums for personal use, the provision of cosmetic tanning services to the public needed to be discouraged.
Mr Martin-Herde who pleaded guilty to the charges in May, was fined a total of $2,100 and ordered to pay $900 in prosecution costs, in addition to $160 for a Victims of Crime levy.
The conviction and fine is the first successful prosecution under the legislation brought in by the state government in 2015.
This offence carries a maximum penalty of $10,000.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said this case highlights the need to stamp out the use of tanning beds for a profit and sends a strong message to the community.
“This activity is illegal because of its potential to have serious health problems to people who are frequently exposed to the radiation that is emitted from sunbeds,” Mr Circelli said.
He said the health risks of UV radiation exposure from sunbeds is backed up by Cancer Council SA and the Australasian College of Dermatologists.
Cancer Council SA Chief Executive Lincoln Size said he was concerned that there are people who are willing to profit at the expense of other’s health through the commercial use of solariums despite the ban.
“There is no such thing as a safe way to use a solarium and we commend the EPA on enforcing this important regulation,” he said.
“We’ll continue to work with the EPA for the message on the dangers of solarium use gets through.”
New Solid Waste Levy charges
South Australia’s solid waste levy will increase from $62 to $103 a tonne over the next four years and result in an additional $64 million of new expenditure that will be re-invested towards industry development for employment growth, promote recycling and to reduce carbon emissions.
South Australia’s solid waste levy will increase from $62 to $103 a tonne over the next four years and result in an additional $64 million of new expenditure that will be re-invested towards industry development for employment growth, promote recycling and to reduce carbon emissions.
The Waste and Resources recovery sector currently employs approximately 5,000 people.
These reforms and new investment will expand the sector to create new job opportunities and help maintain the state's position as Australia's leading recycler.
In addition, funding will also go to local government waste and resource recovery infrastructure, waste education and new solutions for problematic waste.
This initiative by the government, which has been supported by the waste and resource recovery sector will help the industry capitalise on opportunities associated with collecting and separating waste as well as provide incentives to create new industries in processing and reuse.
Similar reforms have been made in New South Wales to increase employment in the sector and improve recycling and reuse of waste.
As part of the recent state budget, the government also announced a reduced disposal rate of $31 per tonne for packaged asbestos waste from 1 September.
This recognises the potential health impacts associated with asbestos and supports home renovators and the demolition industry to dispose of this hazardous material.
The scrap metal industry will also receive assistance from the latest budget measures with levy rebates remaining on hold for the next two years, as a commitment by the Government to support this important sector.
|Solid Waste Levy Charges||1 Sep 2016–30 Jun 2017||2017–2018||2018–2019||2019–2020|
Environment Protection (Waste Reform) Amendment Bill
The Environment Protection (Waste Reform) Amendment Bill marks the beginning of a legislative program to improve methods to deal with inappropriate waste management practices and the illegal dumping of waste material.
It follows a comprehensive engagement process undertaken by the Government with industry stakeholders initiated during the 2015 Waste Summit and a subsequent discussion paper.
Feedback from stakeholders has indicated that by creating greater certainty in the industry and providing a more level playing field will help to promote growth and innovation, and a desire to invest in new technologies.
This Bill proposes options for changes to the Environment Protection Act 1993 that will provide more effective tools to manage the waste and resource recovery sector and tackle illegal dumping.
It will also provide better tools to ensure compliance with licence conditions through creating an expiation for breach of licence conditions and better use of financial assurances.
This program reflects a long-term commitment to South Australians to enhance a growth agenda while moving towards a more sustainable future with how it consumes and recovers resources by seeking to:
- minimise the risk of environmental harm occurring,
- support the highest and best, safe available use of secondary materials in accordance with the waste management hierarchy,
- provide fairness and certainty for lawful operators, promoting investment, innovation and growth of the sector
- stamp out illegal operators.
The EPA will be consulting on this draft Bill and looks forward to your feedback.
Lower Murray Acid Drainage workshop
Water quality in the Lower River Murray remains a key focus for a group of government agencies that met recently as part of an ongoing monitoring program for the Lower Murray Reclaimed Irrigation Area (LMRIA).
LMRIA comprises around 5,000 hectares of flood-irrigated agricultural land on the historic floodplain of the River Murray between Mannum and Wellington where severe soil acidification occurred during the “millennium” drought of 2007–2010.
The EPA, Murray–Darling Basin Authority, SA Water, Primary Industries and Regions South Australia, and the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources have been involved in a joint project to manage the risks associated with acidic discharges.
EPA Senior Environment Officer David Palmer said the millennium drought resulted in deep drying and cracking of clay soils and oxidation of acid sulfate soil materials.
“The EPA uncovered unexpected secondary effects of the acid sulfate soil which surfaced after the drought when irrigation allocations were restored,” Mr Palmer said.
“The LMRIA drainage water has to be returned to the Lower River Murray via large pumps, which is necessary to keep saline water tables rising and prevent it from causing harm.”
The working group has been managing this environmental management issue since the discovery of low pH drain water in 2011.
In November 2015 the EPA initiated an additional risk assessment project with the aim to assess the ongoing risks to water quality from acid drainage discharges in the Lower River Murray under lower flows and the potential impacts for downstream water users.
Mr Palmer said the recent project is important to ensure that environmental values for the region are met, specifically for public drinking water supply, agriculture, recreation and the environment (aquatic ecosystems).
“The risk assessment recommended that further monitoring and analysis be undertaken to capture knowledge gaps and risk,” he said.
“A recent workshop hosted by the EPA highlighted a need for further investment into research and monitoring to address identified knowledge gaps.”
Shandong Mayor’s visit
The EPA recently hosted a delegation of visitors from Adelaide’s Chinese sister province Shandong that included city mayors and government executives who were briefed on the EPA’s governance model, site contamination, air quality programs and sustainable development.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli made a presentation on the role of the EPA, its governance arrangements, with particular focus on South Australia’s management approach for site contamination and the regulation of the waste industry.
The visit included a tour to the Jeffries composting facility and the Visy Paper factory, both in Wingfield, with the delegation showing particular interest in waste recovery and innovative technologies used in South Australia for re-use.
EPA supporting White Ribbon
The EPA continues to demonstrate its commitment to becoming an accredited White Ribbon workplace.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli hosted a morning tea this month to update his staff on the progress and his efforts taking place in support of the White Ribbon movement.
“The aim of this accreditation is to ensure that we raise awareness of the issue of domestic violence and that as a workplace, we have systems and policies in place to effectively address these issues,” Mr Circelli said.
White Ribbon is the world’s largest movement of men and boys working together to end male violence against women and girls, and promote gender equity, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity.
White Ribbon Australia, is part of the global movement that aims to create an Australian society in which all women can live in safety, free from violence and abuse.
Men who wear a white ribbon demonstrate a personal pledge that they do not excuse violence against women and are committed to supporting community action and behavioural change to stop violence by men against women.
“News from across Australia reminds us that there is still a lot to do as a society in regards to preventing domestic violence,” Mr Circelli said.
The EPA expects to become an accredited White Ribbon workplace by April next year.
Master Butchers Co-operative Ltd
Master Butchers Co-operative Ltd (MBL) was established in 1905 to supply butchers with merchandise, ice and market hides.
This led to the creation of MBL Proteins which saw the development of the co-operative’s first rendering plant on the southern end of its Wingfield site.
MBL now operates 3 protein recycling plants, 2 on the same site and the other, 225 km away, south-east of Adelaide in Keith, with over 100,000 tonnes of protein waste recycled each year, producing 40,000 tonnes of high quality protein meals and tallow including meals for poultry, pig, pet food and aquaculture produced annually.
MBL Chief Executive Officer Warren McLean said the Wingfield facility which became the catalyst for environmental sustainability is a far cry from its first rendering plant.
“This original facility at Wingfield became known as the ‘plant from hell’ which emitted strong odours which by today‘s standards is totally unacceptable,” Mr McLean said.
“But it did reflect the isolated location and an absence of environmental planning imperatives during that period of our state’s industrial history.”
For many years the property had no neighbours and was dominated by stock paddocks and vacant land which in more recent years became progressively developed to a stage where commercial and residential properties now surround the site.
“With this progress came the added responsibility for our environmental performance which we had to address to secure the stability of the business into the future,” Mr McLean said.
“Finding a solution to the odour problem was essential to allow MBL members to continue to own a viable business and turn their waste into reusable products.”
MBL remains committed to its environmental program with its next project focussing on cleaning up its waste water stream.
EPA Executive Director Operations Andrew Wood, commended the company’s transformation.
“This is not only good in terms of MBL’s environmental performance and social licence to operate but this has also been important to its bottom line and growth.”
Do you have a success story to share with us? The EPA is encouraging any of its licenced companies that have developed new work practices or have achieved improvements to their business of benefit to the environment, to share their news with the wider community through ‘Monitor’ by contacting Chris Metevelis at the EPA on (08) 8204 2054. The following story is this month’s featured company.
EPA attracts interest at Science Alive 2016
Hundreds of people visited the EPA stand at this year’s Science Alive expo which was recently held at the Adelaide Showground.
This event is now Australia’s largest expo of its type with more than 70 science-related organisations offering interactive and engaging hands-on experiences and educational science shows and displays featuring magic shows and many other activities.
EPA Science Alive coordinator Stephen Packer described this year’s event as the most successful so far.
“There was a lot of interest in our stand this year from school children and adults who enjoyed interacting with our staff and taking part in some of our activities including a smell test that involved identifying different odours,” Mr Packer said.
He said others were pleasantly surprised to discover that the EPA’s responsibilities extended beyond prosecuting polluters and illegal dumpers or helping to identify sources of groundwater contamination.
“Although the EPA has a responsibility to protect and maintain a healthy environment in South Australia, Science Alive also gives us the opportunity to promote our broader services under the Environment Protection Act and to showcase our highly qualified staff,” Mr Packer said.
“I thank those staff who dedicated some of their time to engage with the public and by contributing to the success of this year’s Science Alive.”
More than 27,000 people are estimated to have attended Science Alive over three days which is a record number.
Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016
The new Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016 (Air Quality EPP) has come into effect to better protect and improve the health of South Australians, their communities and the environment.
The policy reduces the impact of smoke and other air pollutants on communities across the state.
The new policy reflects current understanding of health impacts from air pollution, with the regulation and management of air quality now in line with contemporary practices.
The key changes to the Policy include:
- The EPA taking a ‘whole-of-air-shed’ approach to managing air quality in South Australia
- Regulating the sale and installation of wood heaters, and the sale of firewood
- Streamlining council management of burning in the open through regulation, while ensuring the ability to burn off for bushfire prevention is maintained
- Greater consideration of risk to health and the environment when setting stack emission limit.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said: “The new policy does not require permits for burning off outside of metropolitan Adelaide and outside of townships beyond metropolitan Adelaide, however burning off will need to comply with CFS codes of practice to reduce the risk of bushfire.”
Mr Circelli added: “Red tape will now be reduced for fringe metropolitan councils that were required to provide permits for every burn undertaken in their rural areas under the old policy that was implemented 22 years ago.”
Councils may now issue notices to allow burning across parts of their area where they deem burning off without a permit to be appropriate.
More details on the Air Quality Policy 2016 are contained in the Public Consultation Report.
The name ‘Michell’ has been synonymous with the Australian wool industry since 1870 when GH Michell and Sons launched a family business that processed wool and traded it throughout the world.
Fast forward 134 years, and the company is still at the forefront of the international textile industry. In recent years, it’s maintained a business plan that focuses on its environmental responsibilities to address local residents’ concerns of air quality and odour emissions.
EPA Executive Director Operations Andrew Wood said: “This company has dealt with complaints from neighbourhood residents over air quality, but it’s been able to resolve the issues through its operations and processing facilities.”
In addition, the company’s environmental credentials have extended beyond odour management initiatives. It has reduced a dependence on mains water supplies and also invested in infrastructure to help capture and supply a larger amount of filtered stormwater.
Stormwater at the Salisbury site is now filtered through established wetlands before being stored in an aquifer for future use. This process prevents contaminants from roads and gutters polluting the state’s waterways.
The use of less chemicals in the company’s wool cleaning process to reduce salt loads on the sewer system has also been a significant in reducing the load on the state’s treatment works at Bolivar, while also making water recycling to market gardeners easier.
Michell Wool has also invested in a multi-million dollar scheme to remove solids from its effluent stream.
The EPA is encouraging any of its licensed companies that have developed new work practices, or have achieved improvements that benefit the environment, to share their news with the wider community through the EPA Monitor. Please contact Chris Metevelis at the EPA on (08) 8204 2054.
Water Industry Alliance awards
Last month EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli attended the Water Industry Alliance Awards to present the EPA Award for Excellence in Environmental Practice.
The entries were outstanding, so the judging panel had a hard time separating the final candidates. The winning entry went to Factor UTB, which has developed a sewage treatment plant for TasWater at Rosebery, in Tasmania.
Mr Circelli said: “This plant, which has generated $2.4 million towards the South Australian economy through procurement and fabrication by local suppliers and contractors, was praised for its energy efficient performance that demanded and delivered high-quality effluent.”
Presenting the EPA Award for Excellence in Environmental Practice is an important part of the EPA’s approach in recognising industry best-practice and maintaining a level of excellence that our communities have come to expect.
Mr Circelli added: “The EPA’s role as a regulator isn’t confined to enforcing all of its licenced businesses, it’s also about acknowledging and rewarding business and industry groups for supporting good, clean and environmentally sustainable enterprises in South Australia.”
Meet the EPA’s new Board Member
Christine Trenorden is currently a Visiting Professor at UCL Australia, and served as a Judge of the District Court in South Australia and the Environment, Resources and Development Court for 17 years including handling a number of EPA and environment protection cases.
She will add further expertise to the Board on issues such as environmental policy, governance and regulatory design and enforcement.
Ms Trenorden has been actively involved in environmental and natural resources law over many years and brings with her expertise in planning, environmental and local government law.
Christine has been an advisor to local government and has experience in development-aid projects in the Southeast Asia and Pacific regions, where she has conducted judicial development programs and facilitated training for government officers. She has non-government organisation board/management committee experience and has lived and worked in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.
Positive findings for Southeast Edwardstown residents
The findings of a new environment assessment report into historically used chemicals including trichloroethene (TCE) in the Southeast Edwardstown area have been released with some good news for residents.
EPA Operations Director Science, Assessment and Planning, Peter Dolan said that levels are considered to be safe and no testing is required in private homes.
He added: "The human health risk assessment has indicated that predicted levels of TCE in indoor air would be less than two micrograms per cubic metre in the assessment area."
The EPA has been assessing groundwater and soil vapour in Southeast Edwardstown for historically used chemicals since 2015. While the levels found previously have been very low, the EPA has been undertaking further assessment work to determine the extent of the contaminated groundwater and soil vapour plumes.
The latest stage of work, undertaken by environmental consultants AECOM, focussed on an extended area including Ascot Park where 19 new groundwater and 20 new soil vapour bores were installed.
Mr Dolan said “Mains water and water from rainwater tanks are not affected. Home grown fruit and vegetables are safe to consume, provided they are not watered with bore water.”
To find out more about the Edwardstown groundwater test results, phone 1800 729 175 or email.
Beverley environmental results prompt more tests
The EPA has released the latest results from an ongoing environmental assessment of the Beverley area which had previously identified properties that required further testing.
The work took place near Pope Street to validate initial testing for trichloroethene (TCE) vapour that was undertaken last year.
The assessment area included 181 residences with 48 properties among them, identified as needing further testing to verify the preliminary results.
Based on computer modelling to predict indoor air levels of TCE vapour intrusion, the EPA offered residents from 48 properties an opportunity for site-specific testing with 20 accepting the offer.
The test results from these properties revealed:
- 2 properties that fell within the ‘no action’ response range with concentrations less than detection limits, and considered ‘safe’.
- 5 properties that fell within the ‘validation’ response range with concentrations between detection limits and 2 µg/m3, and considered ‘safe’.
- 8 properties that fell within the ‘investigation’ response range with concentrations between 2 and 20 µg/m3 and further indoor testing is likely.
- 5 properties that fell within the ‘intervention’ response range with concentrations between 20 and 200 µg/m3 and actual indoor testing is likely.
The EPA has informed property owners of the results and the next steps that will be required for further testing.
EPA Operations Director Science, Assessment and Planning, Peter Dolan said: “The report has identified the potential for a contamination source to exist in the vicinity of Pope Street.
“Further sampling will be offered to property owners where required, including a pilot trial for the installation of a vapour mitigation system which will be organised in the coming months.”
The EPA is also continuing its work to determine the scope for a potential future groundwater prohibition area to apply a formal ban on the extraction of groundwater in the area through a bore.
Residents have been reminded not to use groundwater for any purpose until further notice.
Local nuisance and litter control
The Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016 has been passed through Parliament and has a strong focus on managing litter and illegal dumping.
The significant legislation for South Australian councils is expected to assist in resolving local nuisance complaints through councils.
The legislation aims to provide improved community outcomes relating to local nuisance, litter control, and illegal dumping across the state.
To help roll out the legislation, the EPA has committed to providing a full-time officer who will act as a key liaison person between the EPA, LGA and council staff.
The EPA is currently liaising with the LGA on transitional requirements, including how to deliver guidelines, codes of practice, fact sheets, workshops and training for council staff.
A comprehensive implementation plan will be rolled out in the lead-up to the legislation taking effect in 2017, and councils will be kept regularly informed of progress made.
Entries open for SA Climate Leaders Awards
The Premier’s Climate Change Council has launched its new SA Climate Leaders Awards to shine a light on individuals, communities and regions, and industry and business around South Australia who are collaborating, innovating and leading on climate action.
If you or someone you know is taking the lead in this space, now is the time to nominate for an award. There are separate categories for individuals, business and industry, and community and regions.
You can nominate yourself or nominate others. The council is looking for an overall winner to award $10,000 towards continuing action on climate change or to attend an event relating to climate change.
For more information about the awards and the entry process, take a look at the awards website. For any questions, you can also contact Jessica Fruin, Project Officer for the Premier’s Climate Change Council, within the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources at email@example.com.
The most important thing is to get involved. Entries close on Friday 9 September 2016.
River Torrens water quality project
The EPA Water Quality team has recently wrapped up its seasonal work with NRM Board, City of Adelaide, and SA Water, monitoring and managing water quality in Torrens Lake over the summer and early autumn months.
The season saw encouraging results for the River Torrens water quality improvement project with no signs of blue green algal blooms.
The intense summer water monitoring program for the lake and river have now concluded and routine monthly water quality monitoring will continue through the network of composite samplers.
Adelaide City Council will also be conducting monthly water quality monitoring in the lake.
As well as successfully using dilution flows, the EPA was successful in testing hydrogen peroxide as an algicide in the Torrens Lake.
The research team gained enough evidence to pursue permit applications for use of the algicide in the lake next summer.
The EPA also runs a Beach Water Advice program during summer that enables subscribers to receive information by email when the water quality at their local beach is unsuitable for swimming.
EPA working with Sellicks Beach community
The EPA has attended a community forum at Sellicks Beach to address local residents’ concerns about the prevalence of dust in their community and to inform them of how it is being monitoring.
Around 60 people attended the meeting at the Sellicks Community Hall this month, which was organised by the Friends of Sellicks Group who also invited representatives from Southern Quarries, the Department of State Development (DSD) and SA Health to make presentations.
The EPA has been working closely with Southern Quarries over the past two years to monitor and manage dust emissions which is a major concern to the local community.
EPA Manager Resources and Energy, Greg Tykzenko, told the meeting that a temporary air monitor which has been placed near the quarry since December will continue to collect data for at least 12 consecutive months.
He said Southern Quarries’ operating licence was due for renewal in November 2017 and part of its conditions involved dust mitigation requirements that included a sprinkler system over stockpiles, a sand plant rubber cover and dust suppressant trials.
“The EPA has been working on a 3-tiered strategy approach to address the dust situation by engaging all affected parties, implementing a dust management program and by making changes to the Southern Quarries licence,” Greg said.
The EPA has also given Southern Quarries a 30-June deadline to demonstrate its compliance to a dust management plan.
PFC use investigation
The EPA is investigating the use of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in South Australia.
In light of recent activity around defence bases, the EPA has been working with the Department of Defence to advise them of their obligations under the Environment Protection Act 1993 to keep the community informed should they conduct any testing outside a Commonwealth Defence site.
Scientific testing to detect the presence of PFCs is developing and has become more progressive in recent years.
EPA tests have found PFCs in dolphin carcass and in fish in the Port River although dolphin numbers in the inner Port River have increased over the past 30 years, attributed to improvements in water quality.
It is therefore unlikely that the presence of PFCs is impacting on dolphin numbers.
More recent testing of marine life including fish, crabs and mussels has revealed the presence of PFCs in fish fillets but SA Health has advised they are below the maximum allowable concentrations and therefore safe to eat.
There have been concerns interstate where PFCs have been detected in groundwater and used for drinking but this is not the case in South Australia where ground water is not commonly used for drinking.
PFCs are from a family of commonly used chemicals that do not occur naturally and have been used in a range of industrial applications, with the highest proportion and potential for entry into the environment being through their use in firefighting foams for liquid fires.
PFCs are not banned but have been phased-out and replaced by chemicals that break down faster.
EPA Operations Director Science, Assessment and Planning, Peter Dolan said part of the EPA’s role is to monitor emerging chemicals of concern based on a likelihood of them entering the environment.
“Perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are specific types of PFCs that can potentially be transported kilometres through water and air and can readily transfer between different substances such as soil, sediment, surface water and groundwater,” Mr Dolan said.
The EPA is conducting a stocktake of likely sources of PFCs in South Australia to enhance its understanding of its historical and current use, and distribution of the chemical.
Hendon environmental assessment report findings
The EPA is continuing its ongoing environmental assessment of the Hendon area to identify the presence of historically-used chemicals in groundwater and soil vapour plumes.
The latest testing commenced in December 2015 and identified specific boundaries of the extent of contamination, with only minor concentrations of trichloroethene (TCE), of less than one microgram per litre found in the groundwater wells in the most northwestern part of the assessment area.
EPA Operations Director Science, Assessment and Planning Peter Dolan, said the results were from tests on groundwater bores.
“The human health risk assessment is indicating that predicted levels of TCE vapour in indoor air would not be detectable or would have less than two micrograms per cubic metre,” Mr Dolan said.
He said these levels are considered safe and that testing will not be required in private homes.
“In two specific areas with a total of63 properties, any of them with basements should ensure they are adequately ventilated if occupants spend any length of time in them,” Mr Dolan said.
The EPA has been doorknocking the area to identify those properties where this may apply.
Hendon residents have previouslty been advised not to use groundwater for any purpose, with this advice still current.
Mains water and water from rainwater tanks are not affected and home-grown fruit and vegetables are safe to consume, provided they have not been irrigated by bore water.
Local residents who have any concerns or would like more information should contact the EPA on 1800 729 175 or by email.
Pinery bushfire coordinator thanks EPA before retiring
The man who was appointed by Premier Jay Weatherilll to preside over the Pinery bushfire recovery spent part of the last day in his role, with EPA staff and shared some of his experiences with them.
Before retiring as Pinery Bushfire Recovery Coordinator, Vince Monterola visited EPA HQ to also thank staff for their contributions towards the Pinery bushfire recovery effort in the Mid North.
He said the bushfire resulted in two deaths, with six others seriously injured, 97 homes destroyed and around 85,000 hectares of land that was burnt, equivalent to an area spanning from Gawler to Flagstaff Hill.
“The EPA was represented on the State Recovery Committee (SRC) and was among other government agencies involved in the recovery effort that offered valuable advice and support in waste management to those who were affected by this devastating bushfire,” Mr Monterola said.
He said besides the many challenging tasks that the SRC faced, there were also notable achievements including establishing a ‘Menswatch’ program that offered specialised peer support training to help men cope with stress.
Mr Monterola was appointed Pinery Recovery Coordinator in November 2015 and retired last month.
Barossa Chief Inspector, Alex Zimmermann has been appointed to resume this ongoing role.
Harrop Casting Technologies
The EPA is encouraging any of its licenced companies that have developed new work practices or have achieved improvements that benefit the environment, to share their news with the wider community through the Monitor by contacting Chris Metevelis on (08) 8204 2054. The following is this month’s featured company.
What began as a small and modest business known as Australloy in 2011 at the Wingfield Cast Metals Precinct in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, has since seen steady growth and more recently, an expansion, by merging with a Victorian-based company to become Harrop Casting Technologies.
EPA Director Mining Radiation and Regulatory Support, Keith Baldry, said the company’s commitment towards sustainability was first recognised soon after it began operating at its site by developing a sand recycling operation to reclaim a large portion of its used sand.
This project has taken its sand recycling from zero in 2011 to over 60% currently, with further work underway to increase this to 80%.
“There is no presence of odour in the vicinity of this foundry, or issues with off-site dust, with any noisy activities confined to a sound-proofed part of this facility and it doesn’t operate at night,” Mr Baldry said.
“Also, its wastewater is managed well and pollution control equipment is constantly maintained which effectively produces very little swarf and where very few chemicals are kept on site but those that are there, are managed appropriately.”
The company specialises in superchargers, induction manifolds, differentials and cooling systems and evolved from a traditional automotive supplier to a broader manufacturing facility to produce quality castings for diverse markets including the defence and marine industries.
Harrop Casting Technologies now boasts flexible manufacturing methods with quality management processes ranging from the production of single prototypes to large quantity castings.
It employs close to 20 specialised staff and engineers with knowledge and experience to deal with industry and licence requirements that has led to the development of an effective network to design, manage, supply and transport quality aluminium castings locally and interstate, and export markets.
National Sorry Day
The EPA’s Catchment to Coast program formed part of the local contributions during the National Sorry Day event in Victoria Square recently.
This has traditionally been an important day for the EPA by engaging with people from Aboriginal communities and acknowledging the Kaurna people for their involvement in the Catchment to Coast water quality improvement program in locations of cultural significance around Adelaide.
EPA Scientific Officer, Science, Assessment and Planning, Shiloh Gerrity who took part in this event said it offered an opportunity to provide the community information about EPA programs for environmental improvement.
“This work also supports the cultural values of the EPA Reconciliation Action Plan that acknowledges the significance that Indigenous people place on water, land and air,” she said.
Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act
State Parliament has passed new legislation that will provide local government with a greater ability to deal with environmental nuisance, littering and illegal dumping.
The new laws will improve services to the community in the areas of local nuisance and litter regulation and ensure that these issues are managed with a level of consistency at the council level.
A new app will also be introduced next year that will enable members of the public to report cases of illegal dumping for a faster response by councils and the EPA.
The development of the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act began in 2012 – driven by the State Government’s determination to improve legislation in nuisance and litter management in our State.
Previously, matters of local nuisance such as nuisance dust, smoke and noise have been managed by both councils and the EPA but without clear delineation as to who was best placed to investigate these matters across the state.
The Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Ian Hunter said the EPA will work with councils over the next year to bed down these new responsibilities.
“This legislation will give councils better tools for policing and enforcement to deal with complaints more effectively, leading to a cleaner environment, especially in regional areas,” he said.
“There are also higher penalties including a maximum $250,000 fine or two year’s imprisonment for the illegal dumping of asbestos.”
Other changes include improving surveillance technology to gather evidence and allowing for public reporting of littering and illegal dumping by associating alleged offence to a vehicle’s registered owner.
The EPA will continue to assist local government manage local nuisance complaints and will still be responsible for leading significant illegal dumping investigations; councils will continue to manage smaller-scale illegal waste dumping.
NSW to follow SA container deposit scheme
The New South Wales Government has announced the introduction of 10-cent container deposit scheme with the ACT considering following the same path soon.
The lead up to this recent announcement prompted intestate media interest from radio stations keen to find out how South Australia has been operating a similar since 1977.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli when asked, was keen to share with an ABC Radio 702 Sydney audience South Australia’s experience and again a week later with Canberra radio 2CC listeners.
Mr Circelli said that one of the reasons why the scheme has been a success in South Australia over a long period was attributed to strong community and bipartisan political support.
“Our last survey a year ago, showed that 98% of our community were in full support of container deposit legislation and it’s just been one of those things, from a public policy perspective it has almost become part of being a South Australian,” he said.
“Our survey suggests that 83% of our community are actually taking the opportunity to return containers directly and there are lots of organisations like the scouts have a very extensive recycling system and undertake a lot of the recovery process.”
He also explained that there were 126 collection depots in South Australia where containers are sorted and a 10-cent deposit is paid for each specially marked bottle, can or container which otherwise would have ended up as litter or in landfill.
“We do know that in terms of litter that by far South Australia has the lowest litter rate in Australia, with about 1.9% of all our litter is containers which compares to 8% in New South Wales,” he said.
“So there is a real benefit but what we also know is that there is an improvement in the resource recovery rate as well.”
The container deposit scheme will be introduced in New South Wales in July next year.
The EPA Board recently hosted its annual round table summit with a focus on how it can assist in developing practical solutions to build capacity and capability in businesses, particularly small to medium enterprises (SMEs).
A total of 36 delegates representing a cross-section of business, industry, government and non-government sectors participated in the event which was facilitated by Denise Picton (OzTrain).
As the new Presiding Member, Linda Bowes officially opened the event and launched Volume II of the Good for Environment, Good for Business publication, which includes a series of case studies focussing on SMEs, highlighting how successful, innovative businesses in SA can co-exist with and be supported by well-practised regulation.
This was followed by a panel discussion which was hosted by EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli, with Kelly Manning (Hanson – Golden Grove Quarry) and Mark Anderson (Tarac Technologies) among the group who discussed key challenges facing SMEs in the current economic environment.
Following the panel session, participants broke into table discussions to identify areas where the EPA could improve its influence and effectiveness, with key outcomes including:
- The most effective way to engage with SMEs is face to face and the EPA will endeavour to meet with these businesses wherever possible. .
- The regulatory environment should be kept fresh and effective to ensure that old regulations do not stifle innovation and change.
- The EPA should find ways to encourage innovation and reward good performers by providing incentives to leverage businesses in their industry.
The summit provided valuable suggestions for consideration to be progressed by the EPA but also highlighted the value of face-to-face contact.
Good for Environment Good for Business
The EPA has used its recent 2016 round table summit to launch the second volume of a high-quality corporate brochure – Good for Environment Good for Business.
This publication, that was first introduced last year, has been well received by the business sector which first featured prominent, top-end-of-town EPA-licenced businesses that have made significant improvements through environmental initiatives.
This brochure also demonstrates the effect of collaborating with the EPA to protect South Australia’s unique natural environment.
Good for Environment Good for Business is targeted at more than 2,200 businesses in South Australia that are licenced by the EPA as part of a regulatory framework that guides short and long-term environmental outcomes for South Australia’s economic and social wellbeing.
It also highlights examples of successful and innovative businesses that can co-exist with their local communities by delivering environmental improvements and investing in jobs and growth for South Australia’s prosperity.
This year, the focus has been on local small to medium enterprises that have displayed state-leading environmentally sustainable practices in collaboration with the EPA and features four case studies, which will be subsequently republished in this and future editions of EPA Monitor.
This is the first of a series of case studies published in the second edition of the EPA corporate brochure 'Good for Environment Good for Business’, being featured in Monitor.
Wirra Wirra is one of South Australia’s most recognisable wine brands, but it is also a company which has used its commitment to environmentally sustainable practices as a driving force in its development and a key plank in its success.
Established in 1894, the winery was in hiatus for almost 50 years until 1969 when two cousins, Greg and Roger Trott, bought the property and set a course of recovery by salvaging its fermenting tanks and recommissioning the vineyard, naming it Wirra Wirra, which is Aboriginal for 'amongst the gum trees'.
It now employs more than 40 people in its picturesque McLaren Vale location, which helped inspire Greg Trott to become proactive on issues of water management, land conservation and chemical use.
Since 2005, Wirra Wirra has employed a dedicated environmental co-ordinator to manage various projects to provide a cleaner and more environmentally-efficient winery.
More than 4,200 native trees have been planted on its McLaren Vale site, its creek has been rehabilitated and 900 exotic trees and shrubs removed, along 400 metres of path.
EPA Director Strategy and Business Roslyn Agate said this winery not only understands its environmental responsibilities but also recognises the economic benefits.
“Wirra Wirra will often proactively seek advice and guidance from the EPA on environmental matters that has seen improvements to the company’s waste management and a reduction of wastewater overflows,” Ms Agate said.
“This recognises the significance of on-site environmental management as part of its business plan.”
In 2012, Wirra Wirra gained membership to Trees for Life and in the following year achieved National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA) membership, which sets a benchmark for organic, biodynamic and sustainable agricultural practices.
The company has also been working on waste minimisation for a long time and continues to maintain an onsite composting program for its vintage waste and part of its treated wastewater sludge.
This has reduced the quantity of solids in its untreated wastewater by 70% which has been achieved through the installation of stainless steel screens on winery drains.
Efficiency drives and the installation of solar panels in 2014 has seen the company’s reliance on the electricity grid fall by 50% while there has also been a 60% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions during the same period, with annual savings of around $50,000. Wirra Wirra is now focused on gaining Entwine Australia certification – the wine industry’s national environmental assurance program – as its next significant environmental milestone.
Company fined $28K for illegal dumping
An Adelaide company has been convicted and fined $28,000 for operating a waste depot at Mount Compass without an environmental licence.
Nasmin Pty Ltd pleaded guilty to the charge in the Environment, Resources and Development Court in April.
The EPA estimated that at least 2,000 tonnes of contaminated soil waste was illegally dumped on a private property at Mount Compass, between 3 and 6 January 2012.
It was alleged that the soil was excavated from a petrol station redevelopment on the corner of Marion Road and Anzac Highway, Plympton and transported to Mount Compass.
In his sentencing remarks, Judge Jack Costello said that the company had not verified the level of contamination that was present in the soil despite its prior knowledge and had not applied for a licence to operate a waste depot.
But Judge Costello said that subsequent testing of the soil found that the contamination was not at levels to cause environmental harm.
“The regulatory regime which requires individuals wishing to receive and dispose of waste to apply for and obtain an authorisation, has been put in place for very good reasons,” Judge Costello said.
“Those who seek to avoid their responsibilities in this regard undermine the regime and put at risk the very environment the regime is designed to protect,” he said.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said this case demonstrates the consequences of a company ignoring correct procedures by failing to apply for a licence to operate a waste depot.
Beverley environmental assessment report findings
Since April 2015, the EPA has been undertaking environmental assessment works in the Beverley area, involving groundwater and soil vapour tests to detect the presence of historically used chemicals including trichloroethene (TCE).
EPA Operations Director Science, Assessment & Planning Peter Dolan, said that site specific works close to Pope Street are being undertaken to determine if there is a risk to human health from vapour intrusion into homes.
The environmental assessment works are being undertaken by environmental consultant Golder Associates with the findings expected to be available next month.
“A second assessment program undertaken by environmental consultants JBS&G focussing on the broader Beverley area is being undertaken concurrently to the site specific works, to determine the extent of the contaminated groundwater plume and possible sources of TCE,” Mr Dolan said.
JBS&G has finalised its report from 150 properties around the fringes of the assessment area.
“Of these properties, 149 have very low predicted concentrations of less than 2 μg of TCE per cubic metre and just one has a predicted concentration of between 2 and 20μg of TCE per cubic metre,” Mr Dolan said.
“Based on these results the EPA and SA Health consider that intervention is not required,” he said.
“These results will help guide the EPA where a Groundwater (bore water) Prohibition Area (GPA) may need to be established in the area.”
The EPA has written to local residents advising them of the results and informing them that it will soon undertake additional work to determine the boundaries for a GPA which will put a formal restriction on the extraction of groundwater in the area.
Beverley residents have previously been advised not to use groundwater (bore water) for any purpose, and this advice remains current.
Glenelg East groundwater assessment update
The latest groundwater and soil vapour environmental assessment results for Glenelg East to detect chemicals including trichloroethene (TCE), has revealed no detectable traces of any contamination for 90% of all 420 properties in the assessment area.
EPA Operations Director Science, Assessment and Planning, Peter Dolan, said of the remaining 45 properties, none of them were predicted to exceed TCE levels indoors above 2 μg/m3.
“This places all of the 420 properties in the assessment area at the 'safe' level within the indoor air level response range for TCE,” Mr Dolan said.
“The EPA has written to residents within the assessment area at Glenelg East advising them of these results and that no testing for TCE vapour intrusion will be required in their homes.”
The EPA began its environmental assessment at Glenelg East in 2012 by engaging an environmental consultant to undertake the latest stage of testing for chemicals in groundwater and soil vapour.
A historical presence of TCE in groundwater has previously been detected beneath a former dry cleaning business in Cliff Street but with liability for the contamination unable to be attributed due to financial inadequacies from the prior site owner, the EPA stepped in to manage environmental assessment on behalf of the local community.
“I am pleased to advise of the 420 properties in the Glenelg East assessment area, there were 45 with very low concentrations of less than 2 μg/m3 of TCE and the remainder of homes were predicted with no detection of TCE vapour indoors.”
Additional works will take place in the coming months to determine the extent of underground contamination to help guide the EPA where a Groundwater (bore water) Prohibition Area may be established in the area.
Appeal to find Glenelg Beach polluter
The EPA has appealed for public assistance to track down those responsible for the illegal disposal of a fluid into the stormwater system which was discharged at Glenelg beach, recently.
EPA Manager Investigations and Tactical Support Stephen Barry, said the City of Holdfast Bay’s field staff launched an investigation as soon as they became aware of the incident.
“A preliminary examination was unable to identify the substance which had traces of oil contaminants, some solids and a slight odour,” Mr Barry said.
“But the council responded quickly to clean up the beach area and reviewed CCTV footage to offer more clues.”
The estimated volume of the discharge was at least 600 litres. “Although not conclusive, it appears that this liquid waste may have come from a temporary wastewater storage tank from a truck or vehicle-washing station,” Mr Barry said.
“Having this wash-up on one of Adelaide’s most popular beaches is totally unacceptable and is why we are appealing to the public to help the EPA prosecute anyone who is responsible for this illegal activity.”
Holdfast Bay Council has remediated the area which now poses no hazard or environmental threat. Anyone with information about this incident can report it through the EPA Pollution Hotline on (08) 8204 2004.
Funds to spring Adelaide rain gardens into life
The EPA has announced that applications are now open for the Rain Garden 500 grants program in the Adelaide region.
Groups that are eligible to apply for this grant include local government and community organisations, schools, sports and church groups in Adelaide and the metropolitan areas.
EPA Operations Director Science, Assessment and Planning Peter Dolan said that anyone representing their community, can also apply for funding.
“Any group or individual who is interested in building a rain garden in a community space can apply for a grant through the Rain Garden 500 program, or work with their local council to install them in their street,” Mr Dolan said.
A rain garden is constructed to specifically capture stormwater from roads, carparks, driveways and other hard surfaces.
“Beneath the surface of the rain garden is a special porous soil layer overlaying a drainage layer where the stormwater is detained through the design of vegetation, slowly filtering through the soil layer to the drainage at the base,” Mr Dolan said.
“Stormwater flows are diverted and pollutants are removed through the process of settlement or sedimentation.”
Rain Garden 500 is part of a South Australian EPA Catchment to Coast project, funded through the Australian Government National Landcare Programme.
Further information on guidelines and how to apply for a Rain Garden 500 grant, is available on the EPA website.
Applications for the current round of funding will close at 5pm on Thursday 30 June 2016.
LAMP leads the way
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli recently launched the organisation’s largest infrastructure project to date, the long anticipated Licensing Administration Modernisation Project or LAMP.
The $2.5 million project began in September 2010 with the aim of integrating and modernising the EPA’s IT systems relating to all licensing, waste levy auditing, waste tracking and the recording of all previous Waste Management Commission records.
This effectively involved the implementation and creation of three new IT systems known as:
- Licencing and waste levy (LAMP)
- Online applications and payments (ELF)
- Online waste tracking system (Waste Tracker).
“Our Premier’s Digital by Default Declaration (November 2014) mentions that a modern public service should be paper free and the Government of South Australia recognises that digital technology is critical to modernising and transforming our public service,” Mr Circelli said.
These systems will provide us with a framework and an excellent foundation to build additional mobile solutions in the future.”
Mr Circelli said the implementation of these new IT systems will equip the EPA with better and more reliable customer service provision.
“The systems are now implemented but they are not just ICT systems,” he said.
“They are business systems which are modernising and changing the way the EPA does business.”
Guests at the LAMP launch included Philip Simone, Managing Director of Open Office software solutions, external suppliers from NSW and Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) staff.
EPA Service Charter
The EPA has developed a Service Charter outlining its service commitment for South Australian communities.
It provides a framework for defining service delivery standards, the rights of clients and outlines what the EPA does to satisfy customer service needs.
Overall, its objective is to continually improve services to the community.
The Service Charter also highlights a myriad of service standards that include:
- providing a 24/7 pollution reporting service
- providing a 24/7 environmental emergency response service
- responding to incident reports within 3 days
- updating relevant information on the website.
Sellicks Beach air monitoring extended
The EPA has extended its air quality monitoring near Sellicks Beach, until next month.
This follows the installation of a portable air monitoring unit last summer to assess air quality in the area and attempt to identify the source of excessive dust in Adelaide’s southern suburbs.
The EPA has also been working closely in the past two years with quarry operator Southern Quarries, to monitor and manage its dust emissions.
Southern Quarries had its licence amended recently to require the company to prepare and submit a Dust Management Plan for EPA approval.
Dust particles in the Sellicks Beach area are not confined to just one source and can originate from other activities such as motor vehicles, smoke and possibly a disturbance of topsoil.
The most recent report noted higher than expected dust levels emanating from the west of the air quality monitoring unit.
Operations Director Science, Assessment and Planning, Peter Dolan said the Southern Quarries site is located in the opposite direction, southeast of the air monitoring unit.
“Although the air quality has generally been at acceptable levels, the EPA will continue to investigate potential sources of excessive dust,” he said.
The EPA air quality monitoring unit will remain in the area until May.
The EPA has received seven complaints relating to dust emissions in the Sellicks Beach area for the current financial year.
SE Edwardstown environmental assessment results
The EPA has received results from the most recent stage of an environmental assessment program, in the vicinity of 2 former industrial properties at southeastern Edwardstown.
A predicted modelling method taking results from tested bores on roadways and pathways has been used to work out what these results might mean if translated into in-house property air measurements.
Previous environmental assessment work completed in July 2015 detected trichloroethene (TCE) in soil vapour and groundwater samples from within and on the assessment boundary. However the EPA considered further work within an expanded area was required to identify the boundaries of this contamination.
The results of the modelling have shown that predicted TCE indoor air levels of 25 properties fell within the investigation response range of 2–20 μg/m3.
The highest predicted indoor air level was 3.4 μg/m3, which is at the low end of the ‘Investigation’ response range. This means that there are no immediate health concerns to residents but further work is required to confirm the results and any next steps.
The modelling predicted that more than one-third of properties were ‘safe’ with levels less than 2 μg/m3 of TCE in indoor air. Further work will be undertaken to validate these results and understand any seasonal variations.
The remaining 200 properties in the assessment area were reported as having nothing detected and require no further action.
Local residents have previously been advised not to use bore water (groundwater) and the EPA has commenced discussions with the local community on establishing a Groundwater Prohibition Area (GPA).
Tap water from SA Water and rain water are not affected.
Further information and a copy of the most recent site contamination assessment report are now available on the EPA website.
Auditor's report for former Hills Industries site
The EPA has recently received the site contamination auditor’s report for the northern part of the former Hills Industries site.
This consultant’s report commissioned by Hills Industries, marks the final stage in an assessment process which the EPA has been overseeing since 2009, after chemicals were detected in groundwater at levels above the Australian Drinking Water Guideline values.
The chemicals found were fuels and industrial solvents, primarily tetrachloroethene (or perchloroethene, PCE) and some trichloroethene (TCE) which were commonly used in the past by industry as metal cleaners and degreasers.
Residents and property owners in the Edwardstown–South Plympton area were first advised by the EPA in February 2011 not to use bore water (underground water) for any purpose until further notice.
This advice still applies to the area – which is bounded by Marion Road to the west, Oval Terrace and Nelson Street to the south, Railway Terrace to the east and Maxwell Avenue and Melville Street to the north.
Mains water supplied by SA Water and water from rainwater tanks are not affected by this issue.
The auditor reports there is no unacceptable health risks but that consideration be given to establishing a Groundwater Prohibition Area (GPA) to formalise previous advice to not use groundwater.
Senior leadership development
EPA senior management and staff were given a rare glimpse into the inner sanctum of the Adelaide Football Club as part of a guest presentation during the inaugural Senior Leadership Development Masterclass held this month.
Adelaide Crows Head of Football David Noble, donated his time to share with EPA senior management and staff, his career highlights and provide an informative insight into his leadership role.
The masterclass forms part of the EPA’s newly-launched Leadership Development Framework in support of emerging leaders within the organisation.
David spoke about his experiences at the Adelaide Football Club, including leadership styles, creating and maintaining an elite high performance organisational culture and the critical focus on building capability and alignment with their people.
He also emphasised a need to identify and nurture future leaders to establish a flexible workplace.
Although the goals of the EPA and the Crows are different, David stated that all organisations should strive to recruit people who demonstrate they have the potential and capacity to make a significant contribution to the organisation.
“Recruiting the right people to start off with, will help avoid micromanagement becoming common practice,” he said.
David also discussed crisis management including the issues that confronted the club with the deaths of coaches Dean Bailey and Phil Walsh.
He said the club communicated openly and with transparency while supporting its staff and players at all levels.
The Senior Leadership Development session was a successful event providing our management staff the opportunity to reflect on building a stronger, more successful organisation.
Further environmental improvement at Adelaide Brighton Cement
The EPA has endorsed new measures by Adelaide Brighton Cement Ltd (ABC) to improve environmental compliance requirements at its Birkenhead site.
The company has developed a new environmental improvement program (EIP) to predominantly address issues of noise and dust which the EPA will monitor.
The EIP lists 18 actions to be managed in various stages that must be completed by October 2017.
ABC receives 7,000 tonnes of limestone at Birkenhead each day which is stockpiled on site before it is manufactured into cement products.
EPA Executive Director Operations, Andrew Wood said the company must also submit quarterly reports to the EPA detailing the progress of the implementation of its EIP.
The first of these reports is due by 30 April 2016.
“This EIP which includes compliance objectives and specific actions that are required, was developed in conjunction with the EPA and the local community,” Mr Wood said.
“The company has committed to undertaking several actions to reduce its environmental impact by abating noise levels and reducing dust emissions,” he said.
“ABCt has also committed to undertaking certain specifications to demonstrate it is taking its compliance seriously as part of its licence conditions as required under the Environment Protection Act 1993.”
These actions will include a site-greening program involving the planting of native trees and shrubs on the Birkenhead site in addition to improved stockpile management and the sealing of internal roads in an effort to reduce dust emissions.
As well as this, there are actions specifically targeting noise reduction – including replacement of noise equipment and the installation of self-closing access doors.
“This EIP is comprehensive and task-driven that will result in good environmental outcomes for the local community in general,” Mr Wood said.
The Adelaide Brighton Cement EIP is also available through the EPA website.
Convicted and fined for public land waste dumping
A 29 year-old man who admitted to illegally dumping more than 60 tonnes of construction waste contaminated with asbestos, was convicted and fined in the Environment, Resources and Development Court.
Geoffrey Michael Ashurst of Nairne, who pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful disposal of waste was fined $7,200 and ordered to pay $800 in costs, in addition to $160 for a Victims of Levy.
He was prosecuted under the Environment Protection Act 1993, for disposing waste without permission on a public land at Pyrites Road and McIntyre Road, Dawesley, on February 7 2015.
Mr Ashurst was also issued an environment protection order (EPO) and complied with it by removing the material and transporting it to a licensed waste site.
In court recently, he expressed remorse by apologising to the judge for his actions.
EPA Manager Investigations and Tactical Support Stephen Barry said illegal dumping of any material, disregards other people’s rights and is an unacceptable method of disposing waste that can cause harm to the amenity of a property.
“In this case, the incident was first reported to the Mount Barker Council which worked closely with the EPA to identify the source of the construction waste that ultimately led to a prosecution,” Mr Barry said.
“I hope that this outcome sends a clear message to those who don’t treat illegal dumping as a serious offence, to think again.”
The maximum penalty for unlawful disposal of waste under the Environment Protection Act 1993 is a $120,000 fine or 2 years’ imprisonment.
Seagrass study dive near Brighton
A team of EPA marine scientists drew more attention than they are normally accustomed to while working in the Gulf of St Vincent near Seacliff recently.
Three EPA divers were examining the condition of seagrass, whose important work was briefly interrupted by a Seven News crew to film and interview members of the team for a report in the local news bulletin.
Principal Marine Scientist Sam Gaylard explained to Seven News Environment Reporter Amelia Mulcahy that there are positive signs of regrowth of seagrass around Brighton and beyond, with their research focussed on more accurately determining its extent.
“There are positive signs and although we still have got a way to go, there is definitely seagrass returning,” he said.
“Seagrass is one of the most important nearshore habitats in South Australia, for fisheries production, to help stabilise sand to attenuate or dampen the effect of waves and to provide food and habitat for lots of fish and invertebrates.”
Sam said that water quality improvements from the nutrient discharges of wastewater treatment facilities has been a significant contributor towards seagrass regrowth, but stormwater is a concern.
“Each time it rains and we get water running off the streets and roads through our stormwater drains, it accumulates lots of fine sediment that easily gets re-suspended along the near shore waters and there’s pollutants that comes in with that stormwater as well,” he said.
“What often ends up being discharged in the gulf through the stormwater can be controlled by what we do in our homes with things like not washing down driveways and leaves but sweeping them up and putting them in the green bins, to improve the quality and reduce the volume of stormwater.”
Sam said the work that is being done underwater will ultimately influence the future management and treatment of waste and stormwater discharges at sea for long-term benefits.
“The stormwater contributes fine sediment which is causing an impact that makes the sea water dirty and cloudy which makes it harder for seagrass to be able to get enough light to photosynthesise grow,” he said.
“Our work hopes to change that by helping to improve ways to encourage seagrass growth.”
Leading forensic psychologist conducts seminar
The EPA hosted a seminar on ‘Investigative Interviewing and Behavioural Indicators’ last month.
The seminar was organised jointly by the EPA and the Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators neTwork (AELERT) with the first session of the seminar livestreamed to regulatory professionals across Australia and New Zealand.
He is also an Adjunct Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Massachusetts USA and Professor of Pacific Policing at the University of the South Pacific Fiji.
His areas of expertise are within the field of interpersonal violence and law enforcement investigation, with a focus upon the behavioural assessment of offenders, investigative interviewing by law enforcement, risk assessment and risk management.
The seminar focused on ethical law enforcement investigation including investigative interviewing.
Professor Roberts discussed the importance of conducting interviews ethically and various practices and techniques that facilitate engagement between enforcement personnel and interviewees.
The use of webinar technology allowed the work being done by the EPA to be transmitted to environmental regulators across Australia and New Zealand.
Horse trainer fined for illegal dumping
A horse trainer has been fined a total of $3,600 for the illegal disposal of horse carcasses that were discovered in a secluded part of the Mount Magnificent Conservation Park, in April last year.
Trevor Lionel Day, 47 years of Yundi, pleaded guilty recently in the Environment, Resources and Development Court to the charges that took place between 2013 and 2015, about 60 km south of Adelaide, near Mount Compass.
He admitted to 3 counts of unlawful disposal of waste after being charged by the EPA for the illegal disposal of horse carcasses.
Judge Jack Costello also ordered Mr Day to pay $2,827 for the EPA’s clean-up costs, in addition to a Victims of Crime Levy of $160.
In his sentencing remarks the judge said the penalty was important to reflect a personal and general deterrence, and acknowledged that offences of this nature are often difficult to detect and police.
Penalties for illegal dumping by an individual can range up to a maximum of $120,000 or 2 years’ imprisonment.
Last year, Thoroughbred Racing SA conducted a separate inquiry into this matter and suspended Mr Day’s licence as a horse trainer for 27 months and fined him $2,500 for a breach of conduct under the Australian Rules of Racing.
An investigation found no evidence of ill treatment of the horses.
EPA environmental planning
The EPA is closely involved in the South Australian planning system through the assessment of potential environmental issues associated with development.
The EPA has also provided comments on proposed changes to South Australia’s Planning Strategy and development plans, and assessing or advising on development applications.
Furthermore, it prepares position statements and guidelines to help local government planners, developers, consultants, and the community to better understand the EPA’s position on air quality, noise, radiation, waste, wastewater, and water quality in the context of the state’s planning system.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said the position statements and guidelines assist those preparing planning documents to understand how the environment can be safeguarded within planning strategy and policy guidelines documents.
“The EPA is working to provide clarity to planners, developers, consultants and the community on our expectations of how the environment can be best protected when development is being undertaken,” he said.
“We work with the planning and development communities to ensure ongoing care of our environment and human health whilst supporting economic growth and job creation in South Australia”.
Mr Circelli said the EPA’s planning staff can be contacted to discuss the EPA’s expectations on environmental protection for any proposed planning policy matter or development.
Information about the EPA’s role on position statements and guidelines in the planning system and contact details for environmental planners, are available on the EPA website.
River Murray shack wastewater management planning
The EPA has been working with local councils along the River Murray seeking feedback on a draft shack wastewater management position statement.
EPA Director Science, Assessment and Planning Peter Dolan said the draft position statement has been developed to provide councils with greater clarity on matters to be considered when responding to referrals through the South Australian planning system.
“The health of the River Murray is vital to South Australia’s economy, communities and the environment”, Mr Dolan said.
“Documenting the EPA’s position provides confidence to those involved in the planning system that EPA-decisions on wastewater management along the River Murray will be risk-based, reasonable and targeted at limiting the prospect of human wastewater ending up in the River Murray”.
The EPA will also be seeking targeted feedback from River Murray councils and key government agencies before finalising its position.
NSW EPA interest in SA CDL
A delegation from the NSW's EPA and Office of Environment and Heritage visited Adelaide recently to discuss South Australia's successful Container Deposit Legislation (CDL) with some of their counterparts..
The EPA NSW is currently considering implementing a similar scheme for its state by July 2017.
The 5 interstate representatives held meetings with CDL collection depot operators at Welland, Prospect, and Pooraka, as well as at the Elizabeth (Scouts) depot which uses the latest counting and sorting technology.
Meetings were also held with Envirobank, which has entered into a commercial arrangement with Scouts SA for the use of its technology at the Scouts Elizabeth and Pooraka depots, and Statewide Recycling which hosted a tour of its Regency Park facility.
The group also visited the Visy Material Recycling Facility (MRF) at Gepps Cross.
EPA hits 1K Twitter followers
The EPA achieved a notable milestone recently with the 1,000th follower on its Twitter page.
This figure recently stood at 1,038, while the number of EPA followers on Twitter continues to climb.
Twitter is just one of many EPA communications tools that is used to engage with communities and disseminate information about key initiatives and activities.
EPA Digital & Publications Officer Trixie Tan, said that it was an ideal communications tool that enables tweets to be shared among others with Twitter accounts.
“When someone shares our Tweets, we then connect with their followers and so on, in a form of quick fire communication and it’s mobile,” Trixie said.
EPA maintains support for bushfire victims
The EPA has continued to work closely with property owners affected by the Pinery bushfires in November 2015 following media reports that they were being hindered in their efforts to dispose of waste and demolition material on their properties.
In a media release, EPA Manager Investigations and Tactical Support Stephen Barry clarified claims that landowners could not dispose bushfire waste and building material onsite on their properties.
“The EPA recognises the distress experienced by affected communities and is making every effort to ensure that landholders are aware of the assistance being offered to them,” he said.
“We have maintained close contact with local residents and councils affected by this devastating fire, in particular, advising on the disposal of waste material.”
The EPA has been informing local residents and councils through community meetings, fact sheets and its website about bushfire-affected waste disposal, asbestos, chemicals and copper chromium arsenate (CCA) treated timber.
Fire-affected demolition material can be disposed on private land with the permission of the owner, so long as the material does not contain hazardous waste such as asbestos or chemicals, or cause any harm to human health or risk to the environment.
“There has been some discussion over the disposal of waste material on private property, but this is permitted provided the waste does not include contaminants or products that may be harmful to the environment,” Mr Barry said.
The EPA is continuing to participate in the recovery process by working with local communities to do everything it can to help those affected by this bushfire.
The state government has also waived the waste levy for bushfire-affected communities.
Licence to restrict aircraft movements at Aldinga
The EPA has issued its first licence for an aerodrome in South Australia, to necessitate regulating the noise impact on residents around Aldinga from the frequency of aircraft movements.
This follows a recent judgement in the Environment, Resources and Development (ERD) Court that determined the airfield operator, Aldinga Aviation Pty Ltd, had exceeded the annual flight movement threshold of 20,000 and dismissing an appeal against the EPA.
Executive Director Operations Andrew Wood said the judgement upheld the EPA’s position based on this threshold that a licence was necessary for the company to manage the Aldinga Airfield which accommodates 70 aircraft including a flying school and a charter company.
“The EPA has welcomed this finding that more than 20,000 movements per year by commercial or charter aircraft involving take-off and landing constitutes a prescribed activity of environmental significance within the Environment Protection Act 1993,” Mr Wood said.
The City of Onkaparinga first raised concerns with the EPA in 2012, that operations at the Aldinga Airfield had increased to a level that would require a licence.
“While there has been no precedent for this action in South Australia, the legislation offers the option to regulate aerodromes as a licensed activity when the number of flights exceed an annual 20,000 movement threshold,” Mr Wood said.
The licence imposed on Aldinga Aviation includes conditions to curb problematic noise disturbance issues by restricting the flight movement hours to between 7 am to 9 pm, and from 6 am during periods of daylight saving. Aircraft landings will be permitted until 10 pm.
Circuit flying will only be permitted between 8 am and 8 pm Monday to Saturday, and 9 am to 8pm on Sunday and prohibited on some public holidays.
“Aldinga Aviation must also develop an environmental management plan outlining measures that will be undertaken to minimise noise nuisance impacts on the local community,” Mr Wood said.
Jail sentence for repeat illegal dumping offender
A Devon Park man has been sentenced to a term in prison for repeatedly dumping building and construction waste on public land over a 2-year period.
This is the first time that a jail sentence has been imposed by a South Australian court for illegally dumping waste under the Environment Protection Act 1993 and marks the end of a significant investigation for the EPA.
Gabriel Paul Ivanyi, aged 40, was sentenced in the Environment, Resources and Development (ERD) Court this month, after pleading guilty to 11 counts of unlawful disposal of waste and for failing to comply with an environment protection order to clean up the waste.
He was previously found guilty in the Port Adelaide Magistrates Court in May 2012, for illegally dumping waste in December 2011 but despite his conviction, continued to illegally dump building construction waste between December 2012 and May 2013.
During this period, Mr Ivanyi was captured by a covert surveillance camera illegally dumping waste on numerous occasions at a site in Pedder Crescent, Regency Park (pictured).
The EPA issued him a warrant in April 2013 and was interviewed by investigating officers, but he continued to illegally dispose building waste at another site at Gillman on 8 May 2013.
EPA Manager Investigations & Tactical Support Stephen Barry said that Mr Ivanyi demonstrated a blatant disregard for the law with a significant cost to the environment, waste disposal business and the general amenity of the dumping sites.
“This is a landmark case with the first custodial sentence delivered in South Australia for an environmental offence of this nature and the culmination of a significant protracted investigation by the EPA,” Mr Barry said.
The properties where the illegal dumping took place are owned by SA Water, the Australian Rail Track Corporation and the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI).
Judge Jack Costello imposed a sentence of four months and two weeks but suspended for 2 years with a $100 good-behaviour bond.
In his sentencing remarks, Judge Costello said that the nature of this offending was too serious to avoid a prison sentence.
He also ordered Mr Ivanyi to pay $44,000 in clean-up costs and $160 for a Victims of Crime Levy.
1-million litre wine spill
Just a few days after Christmas last year, the EPA Emergency Response Team (ERT) was notified of a potential environmentally harmful wine spillage that ended up in the stormwater drainage system in the Riverland.
The EPA responded by attending the Riverland Vintners winery at Monash where an alleged vandalism attack took place involving more than 1 million litres of stored wine that was drained from several vats and flowed into the drain and a holding dam.
EPA Team Leader and ERT Coordinator Kevin Rowley said the deployment of bunding combined with the effectiveness of the holding dam helped to avert a potentially significant environmental issue for the Riverland.
Locals and staff rallied behind the EPA and the winery through their clean-up efforts (pictured), while neighbouring wineries offered support to affected growers whose wine was being stored in the targeted vats.
Pools of wine was reported to have flooded the front of the Riverland Vintners winery and along Nixon Road.
The company’s managing director David Harris also thanked the EPA which he said sought to minimise the environmental damage.
Picture credit: Jane Kuerschner, Murray Pioneer
EPA recognition in State of Sector Report
Each year the Commissioner for Public Sector Employment releases the State of the Sector Report.
This important document details public sector principles that have been applied during the financial year.
The Public Sector Act 2009 outlines the principles, which apply to all public sector agencies and employees.
An EPA Water Quality project at Lake Bonney involving the South East Branch, has been highlighted in the most recent report for 2015, as a key example of collaboration.
“Over the last 3 years, the EPA has led a collaborative project with the local community, industry groups, scientists and other government agencies to rehabilitate Lake Bonney, a large coastal lake about 10 km south of Millicent in South Australia’s South East,” the report states.
PM awards finals qualification for EPA project
The EPA recently achieved a finals nomination in the Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Public Sector Management, through its involvement in the Tuna 90-Day Project.
The application which was jointly submitted with Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) highlighted a project that was developed to reduce red tape and to maximise opportunities for South Australia’s tuna industry in Port Lincoln.
South Australia’s tuna generates around $150 million annually for the state’s economy and is a major regional employer for Eyre Peninsula.
The Tuna 90-Day Project aimed to change processes to align better with the annual fishing and farming cycle, which is determined largely by the migration patterns of southern Bluefin tuna.
It has reduced the regulatory burden for South Australia’s Bluefin tuna industry by speeding up the time it takes to gain approvals for a tuna license each year and where possible, has reduced the cost to tuna farmers.
The EPA maintains an oversight of the ocean environment to ensure that it stays healthy into the future while PIRSA handles aquaculture activities for the viability and growth of the industry.
The Prime Minister’s Awards is administered by the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) to encourage and recognise better practice and innovation in all levels of government in Australia.
Air Quality Policy community forum
The EPA hosted a series of public consultation forums in regional South Australian towns and in the Adelaide Hills over the past few weeks, to seek community feedback on the draft Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016.
EPA Director Strategy and Business Roslyn Agate said the draft policy has been developed to provide a more effective means of managing South Australia’s air quality.
“The Air Quality Environment Protection Policy aims to protect and improve the health of South Australian communities and our environment by improving the regulation and management of air quality,” Ms Agate said.
“This will mean South Australia will have a single policy that will consolidate three policies and two guidelines and enable the EPA to manage specific areas of concern and set quality objectives for an area,” she said.
“The EPA will be able to apply localised air quality objectives for a specific area and anyone carrying out an activity in such an area will have to ensure that any pollutants named in the declaration will not exceed the ambient concentrations declared for that pollutant,” Ms Agate said.
The new policy will also provide local government with more powers to manage burning in the open, outside the metropolitan area.
A hard copy of the Air Quality Policy can be requested by telephoning (08) 8204 9387 or email (and marking the subject line 'Air Quality Policy').
Comments can also be forwarded by mail before 5 pm, on Friday 15 January 2016 to: Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2015 Environment Protection Authority GPO Box 2607 ADELAIDE SA 5001.
Photo: West Coast Sentinel
Dust monitoring near Sellicks Beach
The EPA will be monitoring the air quality near the Sellicks Hill Quarry in Adelaide’s southern suburbs over summer when dry conditions could result in higher levels of dust.
It has been working closely with the company that operates the site - Southern Quarries - over the past two years to monitor and manage dust emissions, while also reinforcing a commitment to remain transparent by keeping the local community informed.
For more than 4 decades, the quarry has been a significant supplier of dolomite aggregates and crushed rock suitable for use in concrete as well as asphalt grade aggregates and road base materials.
It is licensed by the EPA with conditions requiring Southern Quarries to minimise dust emissions from its operations.
The company’s licence conditions also requires it to use enclosures and water sprays at transfer stations, a water cart and sprinklers to wet down areas of the site, place covers and lids on conveyors and other equipment and provide a shed for a sand plant hopper.
EPA Director, Mining, Radiation and Regulatory Support, Keith Baldry said a temporary air monitoring unit has been placed near the quarry to gather dust data.
“The EPA’s independent monitoring program is valuable to all parties as it helps us work closely together as part of an environmental management strategy to implement further improvements if required,” he said.
The air-monitoring caravan will be located on Arcadia Crescent in the Blue Water Estate near Sellicks Beach to assess dust over the coming months during drier seasonal conditions when nuisance dust can be more prevalent.
International Compliance and Enforcement Conference in Singapore
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli, in his role as Chair of the Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators Network (AELERT), recently took part in the Second International Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Conference in Singapore.
Mr Circelli spoke on Vibrant Networks and Capacity Development at the conference which was convened by the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).
“As environmental crimes occur within national, regional or global contexts, they are increasingly connected to other crimes such as fraud, theft and various forms of trafficking,” Mr Circelli said.
“The role of networks such as AELERT in facilitating inter-agency cooperation and collaboration is becoming increasingly important bringing regulatory practitioners together with other law enforcement agencies helps to build intelligence and regulation interventions where organised crime involves different regulators or indeed where it crosses state and federal boundaries,” he said.
“This leads to successful outcomes in the apprehension and prevention of environmental crime and other illegal activities and across Australia, including here in SA, where this happens in areas such as illegal dumping of waste, fisheries crime and wildlife regulation.”
Participants also took part in sessions on sustainable development goals and effective environmental compliance and enforcement, international cooperation on climate legislation, enhancing enforcement capabilities and vibrant networks and capacity development.
A group of EPA field officers and staff members were recently reminded of the perils of summer with the probability of confronting the threat of bushfires being more likely than most had imagined.
Although most of us who live and work in Adelaide or its suburbs are complacent with bushfires the reality is that at some point during the bushfire danger season that we will visit or travel through a high bushfire risk area.
Oshanna Alexander from the CFS Community Engagement Unit who recently conducted a bushfire safety workshop for EPA staff said irrespective of where anyone lives or works, everyone should have a plan to respond to a bushfire.
The workshop presented scenarios to determine risk assessments of workplace procedures and practices through bushfire emergency management planning.
This included an exercise that took participants through a bushfire scenario with its intensity and level of threat being rapidly escalated and thinking through procedures and taking steps that could potentially be life-saving.
Waste levy waived for Pinery bushfire victims
The State Government is assisting communities affected by the Pinery bushfire by waiving the waste levy at local landfills and offering advice through the EPA on the disposal of waste including animal carcasses.
The Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Ian Hunter said the waste levy will not be applied when waste as a result of this most recent bushfire, is received by a licenced recycling facility.
“Under provisions of the Environment Protection Act 1993, I have authorised the removal of the waste levy for bushfire affected properties,” Mr Hunter said.
“This is just one of several initiatives by the State Government to provide immediate help to those who have been affected by the Pinery region bushfire in the State’s Mid North.”
Mr Hunter said a significant amount of waste including animal carcases, bricks and concrete, timber, metals and chemicals is expected that will require an effective and supportive disposal management process.
“The waiver of the waste levy is considered appropriate in these circumstances and will apply to any licenced landfill, including those that are closest to the fire-affected areas at Dublin and Inkerman,” Mr Hunter said.
There is more information about bushfire-affected waste management, disposal of animal carcasses, fire-affected asbestos, disposal of contaminated water and other issues that may arise from the Pinery bushfire recovery.
EPA encouraging borewater testing
The EPA is encouraging property owners of residential groundwater bores to have this source of water tested for contaminants before it is used.
The precautionary measure aims to eliminate any uncertainty of the quality of groundwater from bores that can vary across Adelaide’s suburbs.
Operations Director Science, Assessment and Planning, Peter Dolan, said as a consequence of environmental audits which have been undertaken in recent years, residents in some urban areas are now more aware of legacy industrial site contamination.
“Residents in areas such as Clovelly Park, Edwardstown, Beverly, Hendon and Glenelg East have previously been advised through letters and face-to-face meetings with the EPA not to use their groundwater,” Mr Dolan said.
Household groundwater bores are commonly drilled to shallow depths, where contamination is more likely to occur and as a precaution residents who use borewater, are being advised to have it tested.
The EPA will conduct a campaign over summer to encourage people not to use groundwater unless it has been tested.
“Groundwater can have chemical contaminants from past industrial and agricultural activities,” Mr Dolan said.
“Anyone in the Adelaide metropolitan area who uses groundwater for drinking, cooking, bathing, topping up a rainwater tank, watering the garden or filling up a swimming pool, should be aware of the water quality.”
The EPA can offer advice to property owners who have responsibility for testing bore water to determine its quality and potential health risk.
More information on groundwater testing or call EPA on (08) 8204 2004 or 1800 623 445 (for country callers).
The EPA recently negotiated two civil penalties totalling more than $20,000 involving companies that breached their licence conditions.
The first case involved the Director of a Para Hills transport company who agreed to pay a civil penalty of almost $6,000 for obtaining an illegal benefit from South Australia’s Container Deposit Scheme.
The settlement was negotiated by the EPA after Spectrum Transport Systems admitted to its liability over an incident that took place last year.
This was the first-ever negotiated civil penalty for the illegal redemption of beverage containers.
An EPA investigation found that a company employee was directed to cash-in more than 2,400 beverage cans who was paid a total refund of $243.30 by the Scout Recycling Centre at Greenfields.
The EPA later determined that the cans were not purchased in South Australia and therefore not authorised for a refund, contravening the Environment Protection Act 1993.
A civil penalty of $5,890.50 was paid and the company was ordered to return the containers to their state of origin in Queensland.
The EPA also negotiated another civil penalty of almost $15,000 with Integrated Waste Services (IWS) after the company admitted to a breach of its licence conditions.
Between November 2011 and July 2013, IWS received grease trap waste, liquid waste and sludge at its Wingfield site, in contravention of its EPA licence.
An EPA investigation found that although this caused no environmental harm, the company had purposely constructed special ramps to accept liquid waste at its site without licence approval.
This resulted in a negotiated penalty of $14,850.
Local government engagement forum
The EPA Board last month held a successful engagement forum with representatives from the Local Government sector, as part of its annual stakeholders and community groups engagement program.
Just over 20 participants including mayors and chief executives took part in the discussion that focussed around three key topics – site contamination framework, local nuisance responsibilities and litter control; and waste reform.
Both sectors were encouraged to foster shared roles and responsibilities and to remain innovative in delivering joint and seamless environment protection services for the South Australian community.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said the forum also focussed on the EPA interacting with other government departments, stakeholders and the community organisations.
“These discussions will help shape some of the strategies and actions in the EPA Partnerships and Engagement Framework, particularly around ways we can work better with local government to engage and communicate with community groups,” he said.
“The following day, I attended the LGA Chief Executive Forum, Our State – Enhancing State and Local Government Collaboration where I spoke about the benefits of working with the LGA and recognised that for us to operate effectively, we need support from, and partnerships with, local government.”
Mr Circelli stressed the importance of working collaboratively to strengthen the EPA’s relationship with both the LGA and local councils.
EPA Principal Advisor Planning Policy and Project, Kym Pluck has been was appointed President of the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) South Australian Division.
Kym (right) had previously held the position of Vice-President for two years and was also a national Board Director of PIA.
As President, Kym will oversee the South Australian PIA committee and develop new initiatives.
Her role during its two-year term will also involve raising the profile of PIA and planning in general in South Australia while also improving the relevance of the Institute to planners, the wider community and the Government.
SA Coastal Conference
The EPA recently took part in the SA Coastal Conference at the Adelaide Sailing Club, where it promoted its achievements in water quality improvements and the successful Catchment to Coast project.
Linda-Marie McDowell and Warwick Noble from the EPA Water Quality Branch were among the 150 people who took part in the 2-day event which focussed on South Australia’ coastal environments.
Participants included representatives from local government (regional and metropolitan coastal councils), state agencies, universities (academics and students) and non-government organisations including the SA Conservation Council, Dolphin Watch, Eco-Surf and Friends of Gulf St Vincent.
Linda-Marie presented her work on the Australian Government funded National Landcare Program, the Catchment to Coast project, which is inspiring local action for water quality improvement across the Adelaide region.
EPA staff gained valuable information from this conference including issues related to local government coastal adaption work, coastal, estuarine and marine monitoring, natural resources management, citizen science work and developing networks of coastal contacts.
A message from EPA CE Tony Circelli
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our many Monitor readers, among them, stakeholders, licensees, colleagues and members of the community, for their ongoing support and interest in the EPA during 2015.
The coming New Year will bring new challenges with more opportunities and achievements.
In the meantime, I wish everyone a safe and relaxing holiday season ahead of a prosperous 2016.
Have a safe and enjoyable Xmas and New Year
The next edition of Monitor will be published in February after a short break. The EPA Communication and Media Branch wishes our readers a safe and enjoyable Christmas and New Year and will be back with more interesting news items.
EPA at AMSA symposium
The Australian Marine Science Association (AMSA) held its 10th Annual Symposium on Wetlands, Estuaries and Coasts in Adelaide last month, where the EPA was well represented with input by four of its marine and water quality scientists.
AMSA is a non-profit organisation that promotes marine science that is open to anyone working or studying in this field.
EPA Principal Marine Scientist Sam Gaylard presented to the symposium on the monitoring of South Australia’s nearshore marine environment, assessing broadscale habitat conditions and the development of a tiered Monitoring Evaluation, Reporting and Improvement (MERI) program.
He described the program as a fundamental part of the overall management of the state’s coastal waters that required an effective communication tool to resonate through the wider community.
“Communication of the results from MERI programs is often left for scientific journals or one-off media statements about very good or very poor results, leading to poor take up by the general public,” said Mr Gaylard.
“Report card approaches are typically seen as a good tool for communicating results to non-scientific communities and can increase the acceptance of results and impact of monitoring programs.”
EPA Scientific Officer from the Water Quality Branch, Linda-Marie McDowell, also presented at the symposium on the topic of community engagement in urban Adelaide with the Catchment to Coast project.
She said the project had evolved from the Adelaide Coastal Waters Study (ACWS) between 2001 to 2007 which was developed in response to concerns of declines in water quality and the loss of seagrass.
“The Australian Government National Landcare Programme funded Catchment to Coast project is a partnership project that includes six sub-projects aiming to inspire local action and community engagement in improving water quality in urban environments and at the coast,” Linda-Marie said.
She said that these projects involved the provision of information, supporting community awareness with catchment to coast education and citizen science work, developing water sensitive urban design (WSUD) demonstration sites and implementing the Rain Garden 500 grant program.
2015 AELERT conference
EPA Team Leader & Emergency Response Team Coordinator (Investigations & Tactical Support) Kevin Rowley, has won an Australasian achievement award after being nominated by his peers.
He was nominated for demonstrating an 'excelled or significantly improved regulatory performance within his agency or jurisdiction'.
The Recognition of Achievement Award was presented to Mr Rowley at last month’s Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators (AELERT) conference in Brisbane.
The other finalist in this category was Patrick Lynch from Waikato Regional Council in New Zealand.
This year’s AELERT conference featured some of the best examples from the region and worldwide, of innovative solutions to real-world problems and leading practice in environmental regulation.
AELERT is an internationally recognised professional forum and network for environmental regulators in Australia and New Zealand, with 1,000 members from 190 local, state and federal government agencies.
Air quality consultation
State Cabinet has approved the release of the draft Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016 (Draft Air Quality EPP) for public consultation.
This legislation has been developed to provide a cleaner environment and to protect and improve the health of South Australian communities and our environment.
Key features of the EPP will include:
- consolidating the current Air Quality, Burning and Solid Fuel Heater policies
- providing greater clarity and certainty to industry and the community on air quality criteria
- empowering the EPA to take a ‘whole of air shed’ approach to manage specific areas of concern
- requiring reduced emissions from solid fuel heaters
- enabling burning in the open to be managed at a local level.
Public meetings are being held across South Australia and the consultation period will end on Friday 15 January 2016.
Broad interest in waste reform
The Waste Reform Discussion Paper released in August has generated widespread interest across the waste and resource recovery sector.
Reforming Waste Management – creating certainty for an industry to grow – focused on the key issues faced by the waste management and resource recovery industry.
This included regulatory options to achieve a better and more equitable industry, reduce environmental risk in a cost-effective way and to further promote safe resource recovery through innovative change ideas.
Around 120 representatives from local government, waste disposal and recycling operations took part in a series of discussion sessions and one-on-one meetings during the consultation period to hear about the regulatory reform options and seek more information.
This was followed up with 38 formal written submissions to document wide-ranging views on the positive and negative impacts of the various options and to offer the EPA further insight in the way waste and recovered resource materials are currently being managed across the state.
The most topical items discussed were mass balance reporting, upfront levy liability, illegal dumping and the waste levy.
The EPA is now reviewing submissions and preparing a formal response with resourcing needs to be considered by the Government.
Further targeted consultation will take place for approved legislative amendments and the high-level concepts that are pursued.
A high level advisory group representing the waste industry, local government, Renewal SA, the Conservation Council, KESAB, Greening Industries SA and the EPA will also continue to provide valuable strategic advice.
The EPA thanks those who participated in the consultation sessions, especially those who travelled long distances to the regional centres and looks forward to more discussion to progress the reform agenda.
Business and industry statement of agreement
The EPA has ratified a valued partnership between Business SA and the Australian Industry Group, through a Statement of Agreement.
It also recognises the collective commitment by its three signatories to work together in promoting better environmental outcomes.
This will be achieved through continuous improvement in environmental management and better regulatory practice based on principles of mutual respect, open communication and meaningful engagement.
The EPA has agreed to commit to set standards, consult and engage, inform, enable, ensure a level playing field and to recognise and reward. Industry and business groups are committed to supporting and engaging with the EPA.
The statement titled, A partnership for a sustainable and prosperous SA has been signed by Business SA Board Chairman, Vincent Tremaine, Australian Industry Group (SA Branch Council) Presidents, David Heaslip and EPA Presiding Member, Mia Handshin.
EPA hosts prominent nuclear scientist
The EPA continued its long-standing practice of hosting a representative of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently, to study Australia’s uranium mining methods and its regulatory process for radiation protection.
The EPA Radiation Protection Branch welcomed Petr Otahal, a Visiting Fellow from the IAEA and researcher at the National Institute for Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Protection in the Czech Republic.
Petr who has published scientific papers on radon monitoring and radiation protection for the uranium mining industry, said he was most impressed with EPA’s Radon Chamber which is one of only two in Australia and the most sensitive for environmental and occupational analysis.
After making a presentation to the EPA on radon monitoring and the history of Europe’s only operation mine in the Czech Republic, Petr said he was keen to establish closer ties for collaborative studies.
He also visited the Beverley and Olympic Dam Uranium mines in South Australia and the Ranger mine in the Northern Territory.
The EPA is continuing to make inroads in provincial communities across South Australia and was recently met with a warm reception in the Riverland when representatives from more than 50 local businesses welcomed Principal Adviser Peter Scott.
Mr Scott was a guest at a Bizlink seminar in Berri where he presented EPA case studies and offered advice on the obligations of small businesses to reduce their environmental impact that led to a positive discussion.
Bizlink seminars have been established by the Office of the Small Business Commissioner (SASBC) to connect small business operators with government representatives on a wide range of areas.
Mr Scott also recently represented the EPA as part of a South Australian delegation of industry, local and state government representatives at Lake Eildon in Victoria where they assessed the environmental and economic benefits of a cost-recovery scheme involving the management of several hundred houseboats.
The delegation will report their findings to the Natural Resources SA Murray Darling Basin Board.
EPA ERT visits critical assets sites
Members of the EPA Emergency Response Team (ERT) were recently hosted by SA Water and Allwater on site visits to several of their critical assets, as part of an ongoing collaborative alliance.
Allwater operates and maintains metropolitan Adelaide's water, wastewater and recycled water systems for SA Water.
The program included a visit to the Hope Valley Water Treatment Plant, where the recently upgraded fluoride storage facility took place and processes were established to ensure the appropriate handling of chlorine on site.
This was followed by an inspection of the small submersible wastewater pump station at Pennington.
The Port Adelaide Re-lift Pump Station was the final site visited where the differences in scale of pumping assets were highlighted.
Allwater Performance and Innovation Manager Dan Hoefel said the inspection tour was another great example of proactive collaboration and knowledge transfer between the EPA, SA Water and Allwater.
“In particular the EPA visitors were highly appreciative of the time and effort given on the day,” he said.
Beverley tests call for further action
The EPA last month received a preliminary report consolidating the various stages of ongoing work in the Beverley assessment area, to identify the presence of trichloroethene (TCE) on private and commercial properties.
The results were based on scientific modelling of accumulated data from outdoor soil tests that have taken place during the year.
EPA Director Science, Assessment and Planning, Peter Dolan said the data was analysed through a conservative modelling process that is designed to over-predict potential TCE levels, to ensure that no properties are missed.
The most recent results identified properties in the Beverley area that will require more attention.
“We are now in the process of personally visiting approximately 40 properties to advise residents that individual assessments will be required, including some indoor sampling to determine with greater accuracy the air quality inside these homes,” he said.
“Once we’ve gained a better understanding of the air quality in these homes we will be able to work out appropriate solutions to reduce TCE vapour levels,” Mr Dolan said.
In April, the EPA began an environmental assessment program in the Beverley area and surrounding suburbs to pinpoint the nature and extent of TCE contamination while also attempting to identify its source to determine whether liability can be attributed to a polluter.
“There have been a number of companies that operated in the Beverley industrial precinct over a long period of time, although most are now no longer there, so it is difficult to determine who has contributed to the groundwater contamination and to what extent,” Mr Dolan said.
Environmental and human health risk assessment reports from the Beverley assessment area are available on the EPA website.
CRC CARE Fellow
EPA Site Contamination Manager Andrew Pruszinski was named a Fellow of the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE), at the Clean Up 2015 conference, in Melbourne recently.
CRC CARE is an independent organisation which has 28 partners, including the EPA (SA) as a founding member that conducts research, develops technologies and provides policy guidance for assessing, cleaning up and preventing contamination of soil, water and air.
CRC CARE is also regarded as a leader in the field of risk-based strategies for managing contaminated sites.
A CRC CARE Fellowship recognises individual contribution towards the development of best practice policy and risk assessment methods for human health and the environment.
“This is quite an honour and I had no idea I had been nominated until my name was announced at the (CRC CARE) conference dinner,” Andrew said.
“I was both surprised and humbled to receive this,” he said.
“It’s a privilege to work with CRC CARE and the highly talented site contamination professionals at the EPA where I believe together we can continue to develop world-leading solutions to very complex problems relating to the legacies of chemical contamination.”
EPA hosts Shandong delegation
In early September, the EPA hosted 17 mayors and senior government officials from China’s Shandong Province who were keen to learn about environmental compliance and the management of site contamination.
They were among 150 delegates from South Australia’s sister province to be hosted by environment, investment, trade and cultural organisations in Adelaide.
EPA Executive Director Operations Andrew Wood made a brief presentation on site contamination and Compliance Manager Sophie Martin, presented on regulation and compliance.
The group from the Chinese delegation expressed particular interest in further engaging with EPA staff to benefit from their expertise in legacy contamination issues, waste quality regulation and pollution reduction technologies.
A total of 10 new memoranda of understanding were signed between South Australia and Shandong during the visit, which is expected to lead to significant trade outcomes and job creation opportunities.
Shandong is China’s 3rd largest province with a population of 100 million.
ERT Team Leader takes part in iIIRG conference
EPA Team Leader and Emergency Response Team Coordinator Kevin Rowley, recently attended the International Investigative Interviewing Research Group (iIIRG) Conference in Geelong.
He was among more than 160 local and international delegates who heard from keynote speakers about recent advances in knowledge, training and the frontline application of best practice interviewing techniques from around the world, including Australia and New Zealand.
The conference was led by a leading authority on investigative interviewing, Professor Martine Powell, who is also a founding director of the newly developed Centre for Investigative Interviewing, based in Melbourne.
The iIIRG is a worldwide network of interviewing professionals who are committed to developing investigative interviewing and ensuring all improvements are underpinned by a robust evidence base.
Garden Island rehabilitation project completed
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli, representing the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Ian Hunter, led proceedings to mark the completion of the rehabilitation of a 1960s landmark waste dump in September.
The Garden Island rehabilitation project which took 8 years to complete was recognised by a special on-site ceremony to mark the occasion.
The site, located south-east of Torrens Island, in the Barker Inlet, was first used as a waste dump by the Port Adelaide Enfield Council before its operation was transferred to the Western Region Waste Management Authority (WRWMA) in 1982.
The EPA managed the operational licence that included as part of its conditions for the 54-hectare landfill site, to be rehabilitated after its closure in 2001.
Mr Circelli said that 4 years later, an agreement was signed between WRWMA, Renewal SA and the EPA to rehabilitate the landfill site.
“The rehabilitation program involved capping the landfill with an estimated 1.4 million tonnes of clay and soil, while also planting hundreds of native grasses, trees and shrubs,” he said.
“In addition to this work, there was the management of stormwater, groundwater and landfill gas including flaring and oxidisation through the soil.”
Mr Circelli said the collaborative efforts of the four councils and commitment by the WRWMA has been realised through this project for the benefit of future generations.
New training program launched in Whyalla
The EPA led a new Authorised Officers training session in Whyalla last month involving the Whyalla City Council, Natural Resources Management (Eyre Peninsula) and the District Council of Lower Eyre Peninsula.
EPA Principal Adviser Peter Scott, said the pilot program demonstrated an effective partnership between state and local governments by working together to tackle illegal dumping in regional communities.
“The 3-day course was led by the EPA Investigations and Tactical Support Branch (ITSB) which deals with the most serious breaches of the Environment Protection Act (1993) and provides support in other areas including compliance and enforcement matters,” he said.
“This year alone, the EPA prosecuted a man who was fined more than $20,000 for dumping concrete waste on private land and ignoring an Environment Protection Order, in addition to an earthmoving director who was fined a total of $26,000 for threatening and abusing EPA officers.”
The Whyalla City Council has been proactive in its response to illegal dumping by vowing to take a tough stance.
Mayor Jim Pollock said this issue has been an ongoing concern for the council "over a long period of time".
Plastic bags success
The EPA has praised retailers and shoppers for the environmental benefits of their ongoing support of the plastic bags ban, which has been enforced in South Australia since 2009.
Retailers are prohibited from selling or giving away lightweight plastic bags with polyethylene handles that are less than 35 microns thick.
The ban has effectively removed an estimated 400 million plastic bags from circulation in South Australia each year that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill.
EPA Executive Director Operations Andrew Wood said South Australia was the first State to introduce this ban, with the ACT and Northern Territory following its lead in 2011 and Tasmania in 2013.
“There may still be suppliers of plastic bags from interstate where similar bans don’t apply or from overseas, who may attempt to sell their product to retailers here in South Australia,” Mr Wood said.
He said that the ban included lightweight plastic bags with '100% degradable' printed on them and although they may break down into smaller flakes, their waste would continue to remain damaging to the environment for many years.
“Only compostable plastic bags that comply with Australian Standard AS4736-2006 are permitted to be used in South Australia,” Mr Wood said.
The EPA which monitors its compliance has conducted more than 800 inspections of retail stores since the introduction of the ban from which there have been 45 warnings and only one expiation notice issued to a retailer for ignoring the new legislation.
The maximum penalty for non-compliance is $5,000 and $315 for an on-the-spot fine.
“If a supplier provides a retailer with plastic bags that they know are banned and found guilty of an offence, they could face a maximum penalty of $20,000,” Mr Wood said.
EPA AECR 2015
The EPA has released its latest series of aquatic reports with this year’s results focussing on the condition of inland surface waters in areas of the South East and on near-shore marine ecosystems along the West Coast.
The Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Reports (AECR) are part of the EPA monitoring, evaluation and reporting (MER) program that provides water quality assessments from designated areas throughout South Australia which is measured on a six-level scale ranging from 'very poor' to 'excellent'.
The most recent report is based on data from sites that were monitored during 2014.
Operations Director Science, Assessment and Planning Peter Dolan said the results of each inland water site and marine ecosystem biounit involved a detailed process of evaluation and assessment before they were finally released, which often means p in the following year.
“This recent AECR release of inland surface waters covered 40 creeks, rivers and drain sites in the South East Natural Resources Management (NRM) region, in addition to six biounits in the West Coast bioregion,” he said.
Mr Dolan said the results for both regions were unsurprising when taking into account the level of activities such as livestock, agriculture and some industries that will influence the water quality in the corresponding areas that are being tested.
“The level of agricultural and industrial activities has a significant influence on the surface waters in the South East and therefore it is not surprising that the ecosystems condition fell mostly in the ‘fair to poor’ range,” he said.
“It was also noted that there was no significant deterioration or change in the condition of these inland waters since they were last monitored in 2009.”
Mr Dolan said the results also highlighted the need for everyone to take responsibility for their land use by taking measures to reduce any potential source of contaminating inland waters, creeks and drains.
Hazardous materials safety training
Two senior officers from the Western Australian Department of Environment (DER) Pollution Response Unit were in Adelaide last month to deliver Hazardous Materials Safety Awareness training for the EPA.
Ken Raine and Paul Fanetti who led the training, said that the sessions were aimed at providing further learning to the Emergency Response Team (ERT) and its investigators through real life experience and knowledge.
“This is achieved by recognising threats relating to hazardous materials incidents and inspections, understanding the recommended risk-based approach to hazardous materials issues, basic toxicology and personal protective equipment,” they said.
The training was also attended by EPA investigators from the Radiation ERT along with EPA Tasmania Incident Manager Roy Port.
The training was arranged by EPA Team Leader and ERT Coordinator, Kevin Rowley, through the National Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators Network (AELERT).
Waste Reform Discussion Paper Launched
The state government has released a discussion paper aimed at reforming South Australia’s waste sector and becoming a world leader in the field.
The Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Minister, the Hon. Ian Hunter MLC who launched the discussion paper at the Adelaide Waste and Recycling Centre, at North Plympton, said it aimed to encourage feedback about the current state of South Australia’s waste industry.
“Our work over the past decade has already driven major changes in waste management and we have already responded to industry feedback by transforming Zero Waste into Green Industries SA (GISA) who will assist the sector’s expansion while continuing to reduce waste,” Mr Hunter said.
He also reminded the media during the launch that the waste management and resource recovery industry contributes more than $500 million a year to Gross State Product (GSP) and sustains about 4,800 full time jobs.
“South Australia has established itself as a leader in this area with our recycling rate regarded among the world’s best, and in terms of GSP contribution the sector is greater than the fishing and aquaculture industry and similar to the air transport sector,” Mr Hunter said.
“Studies have shown that diverting waste from landfill helps creates jobs, as evidenced by what has happened in our state over the past 10 years.”
In 2009 Access Economics estimated that for every 10,000 tonnes of waste that is recycled, 9.2 direct full time equivalent jobs are created, as opposed to 2.8 if sent to landfill.
Submissions for the Waste Reform Discussion Paper close at 5pm on Friday 2 October, 2015, with more information available on the EPA website at Have Your Say.
Senior Management West Coast Tour
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli was among 17 key leaders from state government agencies to visit Eyre Peninsula and the West Coast region this month, who met with local leaders to discuss regional development and future prospects.
The Senior Management Council’s two-day tour included visits to the Ceduna Youth Hub, the Flexible Learning Centre, Far West Language Centre, Ceduna Aboriginal Arts, and Cultural Centre and Ngura Yadurirn Child and Family Centre.
Government departments including the EPA, PIRSA, DEWNR, DCSI, DPTI, AGD and DECD were represented by their chief executives.
Mr Circelli said the visit was an excellent way for the EPA to engage with communities and discuss local issues such as trade waste and other key cross agency initiatives that are important to address for the future prosperity of the region.
“This has not only been a valuable exercise for the EPA but it also provides a better understanding of the issues and challenges that require coordination across government with stakeholders, including how we better engage local communities,” he said.
The Senior Management Council also visited the Ceduna Youth Hub, the Flexible Learning Centre, Far West Language Centre, Ceduna Aboriginal Arts, and Cultural Centre and Ngura Yadurirn Child and Family Centre.
Public Sector Employment Commissioner Erma Ranieri said the group was attentive with an aim to encourage further dialogue that will lead to improvements.
"We came here to see how we can assist organisations with local issues and simply ask how we can help," Ms Ranieri said.
"We are also here as part of the Far West Coast Services Reform, which will allow the collaboration of local agencies, a marrying of all the services if you like," she said.
"It's a way of looking for ideas to solve local problems with local solutions." Ceduna Area School principal Jim Michalanney said having the opportunity to meet with the leaders of multiple government departments could only be beneficial for the community.
"It has been a fantastic day, we are really pleased with the response by local organisations," Mr Michalanney said.
EPA celebrates at Science Alive
South Australian school children were encouraged to get involved in science activities as part of the 10th annual Science Alive event that took place at the Adelaide Showground between 7-9 August.
An estimated 5,000 students attended the first day of this year’s event which featured demonstrations, wildlife exhibitions and “magic shows”.
The Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Minister, the Hon. Ian Hunter MLC, said Science Alive is a fantastic event that showcases to students the wonderful world of science.
The EPA which was among the many exhibitors, also used the occasion to mark its 20th anniversary this year, by encouraging students to explore the use of science to help protect the environment.
“The EPA’s Rain Garden 500 programme is an example of science in action, capturing stormwater from roads, carparks, driveways and hard surfaces to improve water quality to protect our creeks and coastal waters,” Mr Hunter said.
“This is a program that offers funding to eligible groups such as schools, community organisations and sports clubs to install a purpose-built rain garden.”
The Rain Garden 500 programme is part of an EPA Catchment to Coast project, funded through the Australian Government National Landcare Program until June 2018.
Anyone representing their community or street can apply until the end of August 2015 for between $3,000 and $50,000 in funding, under the current round of grants.
The first day of Science Alive was a designated Careers Day, where students are encouraged to take part in activities and demonstrations to consider the many benefits of science as a career path.
“I hope that many of the students who attended Science Alive, and other young people who visited the Adelaide Showground will be inspired to become the next wave of scientists, and ultimately benefit future generations of South Australians,” Mr Hunter said.
Beverley Environmental Tests
The EPA has reduced the focus of its groundwater and soil vapour testing in Beverley by concentrating on smaller defined areas, following recent data results.
Environmental testing in April and May this year confirmed the presence of the chemical Trichloroethene (TCE) in a number of locations within the assessment area.
Although groundwater contamination was at lower levels than previous tests had shown, the soil vapour data returned higher than expected readings which prompted the further testing.
EPA Director Science, Assessment and Planning, Peter Dolan said he had previously advised that a detailed report would be available in July but now requires more time.
“This is a consequence of the need to include data from upcoming testing which will now be available in August,” Mr Dolan said.
“The next round of testing will involve the installation of a series of permanent soil vapour bores on public and commercial land in the defined areas,” he said.
Mr Dolan said residents and property owners in the EPA assessment area and neighbouring communities are being kept informed of the progress of environmental tests through personal visits and information being placed in letter boxes.
The EPA is now providing data to Alert SA with information on air quality, beach alerts and locations of recycling depots.
Alert SA is a South Australian initiative that provides a wide range of event and warning information to the public through the Alert SA website and mobile application.
This also includes power service outages, emergency warnings for fire, flood and extreme weather.
The website and mobile application offers a comprehensive source of official real-time event and warning information in South Australia.
Alert SA displays all 3 levels of warnings issued by South Australian control agencies.
Opt-in notification services are provide which have the capacity to send emails and push notifications.
Other agencies provide information and warnings on fire, flood, storm, earthquake, power outages, road closures, traffic and transport disruptions.
The Alert SA application also allows you to create ‘watch zones’ to receive alerts about events and warnings in a nominated local area, personalise the types of alerts you want receive, and the mobile app allows you to receive ‘proximity’ alerts so you know what’s happening when you are on the move in South Australia.
Local Nuisance and Litter Control Bill
A new Bill aimed at providing local government with clearer responsibilities when dealing with environmental nuisances and littering, is going through a public consultation process.
Current provisions under the Environment Protection Act 1993 allow councils to deal with environmental nuisances such as smoke noise and dust but has not been mandatory.
The proposed legislation will provide councils with greater powers to deal with nuisance, litter and illegal dumping that will improve services to local communities.
EPA Director Strategy and Business Roslyn Agate said the proposed Local Nuisance and Litter Control Bill 2015 will eliminate confusion for local communities and allow all councils to act more decisively and with greater authority when smaller scale local environmental incidents take place.
“The proposed Bill also aims to reform litter laws in South Australia by consolidating over time the numerous laws that currently cover these offences,” she said.
Ms Agate said that although councils are already responsible for litter regulation under the Local Government Act 1999, the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Bill 2015 will improve their enforcement capabilities through the provision of more effective powers and other tools.
Renewal SA Environmental Tests
This follows the EPA’s comprehensive environmental assessment program from last year that identified four potential source areas of groundwater contamination on industrial land between South Road and the Tonsley rail corridor.
EPA Director Operations Science, Assessment and Planning Peter Dolan said that these sources still require further testing to improve an understanding of the nature and extent of groundwater contamination.
The testing will be done by the government’s urban development agency – Renewal SA – as the current owner of the Tonsley site,” Mr Dolan said.
Renewal SA is facilitating the redevelopment of the Tonsley site, which was previously owned by car manufacturer, Mitsubishi.
“The EPA in its role as the environmental regulator will oversee Renewal SA’s environmental assessment program in accordance with a formal regulatory agreement,” Mr Dolan said.
“Renewal SA has appointed an independent EPA accredited site contamination auditor and will commence the environmental assessment program in Mitchell Park and Clovelly Park.”
The program will include testing to determine the nature and extent of groundwater contamination to the west and north of the Tonsley site with the environmental assessment program to take place over the next six months.
Community and environmental groups forum
The EPA Board recently hosted a successful forum that brought together community and environmental groups to enhance an ongoing spirit of cooperation and partnership in the sector.
About 40 people took part in the event which was held at the City of Charles Sturt Civic Centre, on 9 June.
The Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Ian Hunter who attended the forum, spoke about the State Government’s commitment towards community and stakeholder engagement.
He said that by encouraging community and environmental groups that share common interests and aspirations, to work more closely together, would help ensure a sustainable, prosperous and productive future for South Australia.
The forum’s 40 delegates representing a broad range of organisations, raised issues that were impeding their progress and offered insightful views on their perception of how well the EPA communicates with them.
The EPA has consequently gained valuable feedback from the forum on inter-agency relationships and working with stakeholder and community groups.
EPA Board Presiding Member Mia Handshin told the forum that it was a valuable opportunity to strengthen ties with stakeholders and community groups.
“We take the time to engage with you, not just because the (Environment Protection) Act requires us to, but because through working with you, we are better able to understand and address emerging environmental issues, particularly those in your backyards,” she said.
EPA Board Iron Triangle visit
The EPA Board has completed a successful 2-day tour of key Spencer Gulf cities as part of an annual regional engagement initiative.
The Regional Summit which began on June 30, included an inspection of the Arrium OneSteel facility in Whyalla which offered Board members an opportunity to discuss with the steelwork’s executives its future plans.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said it was also encouraging to hear about the community engagement program and the company’s ongoing efforts to reduce red dust which has been a contentious issue in the local community.
The EPA has previously acknowledged Arrium OneSteel for its commitment towards dust reduction by being presented an EPA Sustainability Licence.
Mr Circelli said the regional visit provided an opportunity for the EPA Board to engage more closely with the region’s key stakeholders and explore opportunities for the future.
“This EPA visit included a briefing from Arrium OneSteel chief executive Matthew Reed who talked about the volatility of the steel market and the pressures in this industry,” Mr Circelli said.
The Port Pirie Regional Council also hosted the EPA Board for a luncheon following its visit to the Nyrstar lead smelter which is undergoing a multi-million dollar redevelopment into a poly-metallic processing and recovery facility.
EPA Board Presiding Member Mia Handshin acknowledged the Nyrstar business model which is transitioning from a traditional lead smelter to a more diverse multi-metals facility that will have broader-scale benefits.
“Our goal is to work better and more effectively with industries and individuals who are licensed by the EPA to achieve beneficial environmental outcomes for their communities and for all South Australians,” she said.
“This is why it is important for us to visit these regions for the Board to seek the views of our stakeholders and to continue working with them.”
EPA datasets are now part of a state government data platform that feature on a new single website offering South Australians access to anything from air quality measures to school zones.
Location SA is a new product in the Resources and Infrastructure Cluster also involving the following agencies:
- Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI)
- Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR)
- PIRSA Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA)
- DMITRE Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy (DMITRE)
- SA Water
Public Sector Minister Susan Close said the new website is part of a state government commitment to proactively release data.
“The Location SA Map Viewer will dramatically improve access to government spatial information and support South Australia’s digital economy,” she said.
“This tool brings location-based data together in one efficient site and allows the user to make quick and informed decisions immediately,” Ms Close said.
“Location SA will help a homebuyer or developer, for example, to quickly analyse school zones, air quality and public transport options at a particular location, by viewing the data over a satellite image or a road map.”
The EPA has contributed the following datasets:
- licensed activities
- collection depots
- air quality monitoring sites
- water protection areas.
Around 160 government datasets will be mapped initially, with more to be added.
Gold Stars for air quality data
The EPA has been acknowledged with 'Gold Star' by Data SA for the release of a complete open access information package, for air quality data in South Australia.
Data SA is a government directory that recognises the economic, social and environmental potential of releasing government data to encourage improved investment decisions, research and well-planned service delivery.
The EPA has released:
- A user friendly Adelaide Air Quality Performance Dashboard with published PDF reports on the EPA website.
- An hourly Air Quality Index RSS feed.
- A location-based open dataset providing Air Quality Monitoring sites that enables easier map display and correlation between the annual statistical datasets of each site.
Premier Jay Weatherill recently issued an open data declaration requiring all government agencies to ensure their data is publicly accessible.
Kiwis marvel SA recycling program
The EPA Container Deposit Legislation (CDL) gained the attention and praise of a New Zealand delegation who were in Adelaide recently for a study tour.
CDL Team Leader Andrea Woods, hosted the Envision New Zealand Resource Recovery study group comprising representatives from Auckland City Council, New Zealand recycling businesses and Maori communities.
They visited the Statewide Recycling facility at Ottoway and the Welland Waste depot where they learned about the EPA’s role in administering and enforcing the container deposit scheme.
The EPA also welcomed Kylie Hughes, from the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, who was shown the Scouts Recycling Centre at Green Fields and their new automated recycling site at Edinburgh North.
EPA Environment Award
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli has acknowledged the good work and consistent efforts of the Boating Industry Association of SA for its regulatory support and commitment to improvements for the marine environment.
Mr Circelli was guest speaker at a recent breakfast function during the Adelaide Boat Show where he presented the EPA 2015 Environment Award to John Milham, a former long-term Board member of the BIA SA.
Before the award presentation, the gathering of South Australian boating industry representatives were reminded of the responsibilities shared between the EPA and the BIA to protect and help sustain the marine environment.
“In some cases we will be unable to reverse the damage caused by common practices of the past but by understanding its consequences, we can plan for a more sustainable future,” Mr Circelli said.
“But this requires a broad commitment from industry, governments, environment and private organisations working alongside the EPA with a plan or targeted strategies.”
This year’s Environment Award winner was also a former president of the Boating Industry Association and chairman of its Marina and Environment Division, for more than 15 years.
Mr Milham also previously held memberships with the following organisations before his recent retirement:
- The South Australian Boating Facilities Advisory Committee
- The Australian Marine Industries Federation
- The National Marine Safety Commission, Industry Committee
- The Tourism Council of SA
- The Houseboat Hirers’ Association
He is now a Life Member of the Boating Industry Association of SA.
“A person of so many accomplishments for the benefit of the boating industry and the marine environment as a whole, in my view is worthy of recognition,” Mr Circelli said.
Catchment to Coast tour
The EPA Water Quality team recently hosted a Catchment to Coast Kaurna bus tour that included Natural Resources Management (NRM) staff, local government representatives and Kaurna people.
The group visited water-sensitive urban design sites across Adelaide that included Rain Garden installations and large wetland schemes, as examples of local council projects to improve stormwater quality.
This included different rain gardens developed by the Adelaide, Unley and West Torrens councils.
The tour group also visited the Cooke Reserve wetlands and Tennyson Dunes in City of Charles Sturt, and the Oaklands Park wetlands in the City of Marion.
Osborne cement silo collapse
On Sunday 14 June, 2015 a 2,500-tonne silo at Osborne collapsed while it was being loaded with dry cement from a container ship creating a blast that caused extensive damage and showered the immediate area with a plume of dust.
The EPA Emergency Response Team (ERT) was activated at the request of SafeWork SA to isolate the cement to the site by blocking stormwater pits with sandbags as a precaution.
Cement in the vicinity of the silo was approximately 30 centimetres thick and covered an area of around 3,000 square metres, however no cement went directly into the river.
Six vacuum trucks were used to remove the cement and stormwater pits were kept isolated during this process.
The potential for the Port River being polluted in this incident was considered a moderate risk and of low impact.
ARR fined over EPA licence contraventions
The operator of a waste and recycling depot at Dry Creek has been fined $25,000 for the improper storage of low-level contaminated waste from the Adelaide Oval redevelopment.
The civil penalty against Adelaide Resource Recovery (ARR) was delivered recently by Judge Costello in the Environment Resources and Development (ERD) Court.
The EPA identified three breaches of ARR licence conditions that occurred between 18 October 2012 and 8 August 2013.
This involved three corresponding occasions when low-level contaminated waste soil had been stored in the open at the ARR Dry Creek site, when it should have been placed under cover.
Judge Costello said that 39,000 tonnes of soil had been removed from the Adelaide Oval and deposited in 3 'discrete' areas at the ARR facility, with only 500 tonnes of it being stored in a shed, as required under its licence conditions.
He said that the conscious decision by ARR to breach its licence had the potential to put the protection of the environment and the general public at risk. Judge Costello imposed a single aggregated civil penalty of $25,000 for the three contraventions of the licence.
EPA Executive Director of Operations Andrew Wood, said the penalty reflected the serious nature of ignoring licence conditions and putting the environment and people at risk.
“The judge clearly indicated that this penalty aimed to deter other licence holders who may consider a similar course of conduct,” Mr Wood said.
EPA Civil Penalty calculations changes
The EPA Civil Penalty Calculations Policy will be amended on 1 August, 2015 to implement the final recommendation of the 2013 Calculations Policy Review.
This change will increase the penalties that will be generated in the negotiation of civil penalties. Section 104A of the Environment Protection Act 1993 allows the EPA to seek a civil penalty from an alleged offender in respect of certain alleged contraventions of the Act, as an alternative to criminal prosecution.
The Calculations Policy provides a framework for calculating fair and consistent penalties while balancing the need for deterrence, accountability and equity.
Participation in negotiations is voluntary.
The issue that was the subject of most discussion during the 2013 Calculations Policy Review and consultation process, was the question whether the monetary value of negotiated civil penalties should be increased by increasing the foundation penalty by 20%.
This increase would take into consideration the cost-savings of avoiding court proceedings and possible conviction.
After considering the 2013 review submissions the EPA introduced a staged increase of the foundation penalty of 10% in 2013 and an additional 10% planned for 2015.
To implement this subsequent increase, the civil penalty calculations policy will be amended on 1 August, 2015.
The foundation penalty for Category One offences will increase from 60% to 70% of the maximum penalty for the offence in the Act and for Category Two and Three offences from 35% to 45%.
The EPA will continue to review the policy to ensure that it meets its objective of providing a transparent and consistent method of calculating negotiated civil penalties.
The next review of the policy is scheduled to commence within 3 years.
A civil penalty is voluntary system that was legislated in 2005 allowing the EPA or the Environment, Resources and Development Court to negotiate a penalty directly with a person with whom the EPA is satisfied has committed an offence under the Environment Protection Act 1993.
Strategic Plan 2015–2018
As guardians of South Australia’s environment we take seriously our role to safeguard the future and clean up the past for the next generations. In stating that, the Strategic Directions document this year focusses on driving three central objectives:
- Support wellbeing and prosperity
- Keep people informed and engaged
- Being an effective and trusted regulator.
A number of high level strategies are listed under each of these areas that will guide corporate initiatives, to be developed annually over the next three years through the EPA’s planning process.
This new plan will come into effect from 1 July and is the culmination of an intensive consultation process with goals, key themes and strategic EPA objectives. Feedback from key stakeholders during round-table discussions also played a significant part in influencing necessary directions.
The Strategic Directions 2015 – 2018 is now available in the Corporate Reporting section on the EPA website. .
EPA Board hosts industry summit
More than 40 people representing government, business, industry and environmental groups took part in a roundtable summit in Adelaide on May 12, which was hosted by the EPA Board.
This year’s theme was Better Regulation - Driving Innovation in South Australia with the Chair of the Economic Development Board, Raymond Spencer, providing the keynote address.
Mr Spencer discussed how the 'big picture strategy' of regulation and business success can support and benefit the Government’s economic priorities.
The Director of Operations at Thomas Foods International, David McKay, also presented a case study on how effective regulatory practice can drive innovation for economic growth and business success, as well as better environmental outcomes.
Summit delegates took part in workshop discussions on how the EPA works with industry to streamline regulations and promote innovation and opportunity.
Key themes identified during the discussions included the need for the EPA to be a facilitator and educator as well as a firm and fair regulator with an emphasis to improve the speed and consistency of decision making.
Outcomes of the 2015 EPA Summit are being collated into a draft report by 30 June, 2015 which will soon be available on the EPA website for feedback.
ARR Wingfield fire
The EPA was notified early morning on Tuesday 5 May, 2015, of a significant fire of processed recycled material at the Adelaide Resource Recovery (ARR) facility at Hanson Road, Wingfield.
ARR is licensed by the EPA as a waste and recycling depot with stockpile management criteria as a condition.
An EPA Emergency Response Team (ERT) attended the site to monitor smoke emissions from the stockpiles of burning mulch.
ARR was issued an Environment Protection Order to remove and dispose all fire-affected waste from its site by 8 June, 2015.
The EPA conducts regular inspections at the ARR facility and made changes to strengthen licence conditions for stockpiling in January 2015.
The stockpiling of recycled or processed waste material has been an issue discussed between the EPA and industry groups in the past 12 months.
In March this year, through the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Ian Hunter, the EPA and Zero Waste SA convened a South Australian waste summit, where there was widespread industry agreement to work towards improving the EPA’s powers.
This meeting was broadly represented by various groups including the LGA, Master Builders Association, SA Waste Industry Network, ARR and the Waste Management Association of Australia.
Scouts blaze the recycling trail
Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Minister Ian Hunter has opened a new recycling centre in Pooraka that will boost the fundraising efforts of South Australia’s largest youth-oriented not-for-profit organisation.
The South Australian branch of the Scouts Association of Australia now operates ten recycling centres, with the latest featuring automated technology that will improve the experience and efficiency of recycling containers.
“South Australia leads the nation in recycling and the Scouts Association has been operating Scout Recycling Centres (SRCs) for fundraising efforts for 35 years,” Mr Hunter said.
"Their operation is a fantastic example of the wider benefits the $1 billion dollar waste industry generates in our state, while supporting around 5,000 jobs.
“These SRCs employ around 100 people, and generate an annual return of $24 million, some of which helps to support the activities of around 10,000 volunteers and young people.”
Mr Hunter said the state-of-the-art recycling centre at Maxwell Road, Pooraka features fully-automated counting machine technology that scans the barcode of recyclable products.
“This will improve efficiency through a process of scanning containers – helping the scouts in South Australia process up to 15 per cent of the state’s recycling volume,” he said.
“What’s more, the efficiency of this technology is driving a planned expansion of the SRC network to more locations – including in regional areas – leading to more jobs in the sector.”
The Scout Association receives around $3 million a year from its SRC operations which sustains the organisation in South Australia through affordable membership fees, youth programs and upgrading equipment.
SRC is now one of the largest recycling facilities in metropolitan Adelaide, and also recycles other reusable materials including newspapers, scrap metals and plastics. South Australia first introduced Container Deposit Legislation (CDL) in 1978 for soft drink bottles and cans returned at the point of sale and later expanded to include other specified products for a 10-cent refund.
The Scout Association will opening another new automated centre in Edinburgh North soon.
Illegal dumping of asbestos at Mutton Cove
The EPA has been investigating the illegal dumping of asbestos and construction waste that was discovered in a remote area at Mutton Cove near Osborne, in Adelaide’s north in March.
EPA officers from the Emergency Response Team acted swiftly to attend the scene and set up a perimeter to ensure that public health, safety and the environment were not compromised.
This was considered to be an extremely serious illegal dumping matter which attracted extensive media attention. The EPA used this opportunity to reinforce a strong message of zero tolerance for anyone caught illegally dumping waste, especially asbestos.
Renewal SA, who own the land, organised a clean-up to take place on the same day of the discovery. Investigations are continuing to find the person responsible for the dumped asbestos.
Rain Garden 500 grants
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has announced that applications are now open for the Rain Garden 500 grants program in the Adelaide region.
A rain garden is constructed to specifically capture stormwater from roads, carparks, driveways and other hard surfaces to divert water to specifically selected plants.
Groups that are eligible to apply for a grant between $3,000 and $50,000 include local government and community organisations, schools, sports and church groups in Adelaide and metropolitan areas.
EPA Executive Director Operations Andrew Wood said that anyone representing their community or street can also apply for funding.
“Any group or individual who is interested in building a rain garden in their street or community can apply for a grant through the Rain Garden 500 program,” Mr Wood said.
"Beneath the surface of the rain garden is a special porous soil layer overlaying a drainage layer where the stormwater is detained through the design of vegetation, slowly filtering through the soil layer to the drainage at the base.”
Stormwater flows are diverted and pollutants are removed through the process of settlement or sedimentation.
This project has been developed by the Australian Government through the national Landcare programme with funding made available until June 2018.
Rain Garden 500 is part of the SA Catchment to Coast project which is being supported by the EPA.
Further information on guidelines and how to apply for a Rain Garden 500 grant are available on the EPA website. Applications for 2015/2016 will close at 5pm on Friday 31 July, 2015.
National Pollutant Inventory data
The National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) data for 2013/14 is now available on the internet.
This resource offers the community, government and industry free information about emissions and transfers of 93 substances that have been identified as significant due to their potential effects on human health and the environment.
The NPI website is unique because it indicates geographically where substances are being emitted and their volume of discharge each year.
NPI fast facts
Beverley environmental tests results
Environmental testing has confirmed the presence of the chemical Trichloroethene (TCE) in a number of locations within the Beverley environmental assessment area.
The EPA is assessing preliminary results from groundwater and soil vapour tests that were conducted in April and May 2015.
Although groundwater contamination is at lower levels than previous results, the recent soil vapour data has returned readings that are higher than expected.
The EPA will undertake more analysis of the data and further testing in June to better understand the environmental conditions in the area.
Local residents are being kept informed and the EPA is working with them to form a local community working group.
The report from the groundwater and soil vapour data is available on the EPA website with further information from the next round of tests to be provided to local residents in the coming weeks.
Residential and commercial property owners in the Beverley area have also been reminded that a previous EPA advisory not to use groundwater for any purpose until further notice, remains in place.
Groundwater and soil testing in the suburbs
The EPA recently commissioned an environmental assessment program in several Adelaide suburbs.
This included groundwater and soil testing in two industrial sites at Edwardstown and in the vicinity of Cliff Street, Glenelg East.
The assessment work that was undertaken over a three-week period in April aims to determine the nature and extent of groundwater contamination caused by previous industrial activities over a long period of time.
EPA Manager Site Contamination, Andrew Pruszinski said the environmental assessment activities will provide more information about the type and extent of potential contamination.
“Samples and data has been collected to assist in our understanding of the environmental conditions and whether any remedial works may be required,” Mr Pruszinski said.
The test results are expected to be available in July 2015 on the EPA website through the EPA Public Register.
A summary of results will also be provided to local residents in the area where the environmental tests took place.
Earthmoving boss convicted and fined for EPA threats
The director of an earthmoving business has been convicted and fined more than $26,000 in the Environment, Resources and Development Court for threatening and abusing Environment Protection Authority (EPA) officers during inspections at a site in 2013.
In February this year, Ron Papillo, 53, pleaded guilty in court to making threats and using abusive language towards the officers when they visited his Angle Vale property and during a conversation over the phone.
The court heard that Mr Papillo told an EPA officer during a site visit that, “I don’t like being messed with, I have guns,” among his threats.
In her sentencing remarks, Judge Susanne Cole said that the language used by Mr Papillo was appalling, unacceptable and unlawful under the Environment Protection Act.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said the officers who were subjected to Mr Papillo’s tirade of abuse went about discharging their functions under the Act with considerable restraint, patience and fortitude.
“This judgment also sends a clear message that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated by the EPA to obstruct or intimidate its officers as they go about doing their work for the community’s benefit,” he said.
In addition to the fines, Judge Cole ordered Mr Papillo to pay $1,500 in court costs.
EPA supporting Aboriginal engagement at Marion
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has endorsed the appointment of an Aboriginal Engagement Officer at the Living Kaurna Cultural Centre (LKCC) at Marion.
Merle Simpson has been appointed to the part-time role to assist the EPA Water Quality Branch to engage with the Kaurna people of the Adelaide region.
EPA Water Quality Manager Andrew Solomon said this new role will make a significant contribution to the Catchment to Coast project which forms part of the Adelaide Coastal Watch Quality Improvement Plan (ACWQIP).
“This project is supported by the EPA through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare programme,” Mr Solomon said.
“The initial consultation process for the ACWQIP involved Kaurna Nation representatives who provided input towards the development of this plan,” he said.
“Members of the Kaurna community also contributed to a focus group that identified environmental values for Adelaide’s coastal waters.”
Mr Solomon said there is a clear and inseparable cultural and spiritual bond held by Aboriginal people for the landscape and the coast.
The Aboriginal Engagement Officer will assist the EPA to effectively engage with the Kaurna people to identify linkages between their cultural and spiritual values and the Catchment to Coast project.
Waste dumper pays dearly
A Kidman Park man who chose not to pay an expiation fee of $360 for the illegal disposal of concrete waste was ordered by a judge to pay fines and costs totalling almost $20,000.
Shane Hanley was prosecuted by the EPA on one count each of illegal disposal of waste and for failing to clean up waste after being issued an Environment Protection Order (EPO).
Mr Hanley who failed to appear in the Environment, Resources and Development Court for his hearing in April, was found guilty and convicted on both counts.
The incident related to the illegal dumping of concrete waste that took place on a vacant property in Piovesan Court Kidman Park, on 14 July last year.
A neighbour who witnessed three people pumping wet concrete onto the ground, took photos and contacted police.
Mr Hanley who was still at the site when police arrived later, told them he was the owner of the concrete truck whose waste was cleaned-out from the mixer.
He also told police that he would clean up the waste concrete before the end of the day’s shift but failed to do that which led the EPA issuing him an expiation fee of $300 and a $60 levy for causing an environmental nuisance.
Mr Hanley responded by notifying the EPA on 6 October last year that he would not pay the expiation fee but instead contest the matter in court.
The EPA inspected the Piovesan Court site again and found that the concrete waste had not been cleaned up and Mr Hanley was issued another EPO to clean up the site by 19 December 2014 which he ignored.
In her sentencing remarks, Judge Susanne Cole said that it was a matter of great concern that Mr Hanley had ignored an EPO.
“The illegal dumping of material is a blatant disregard of other people’s rights and a cheap disposal of waste that caused harm to the amenity and the usability of the property,” Judge Cole said.
EPA Manager Investigations and Tactical Support, Stephen Barry said that this was a significant outcome that sent a strong message to those who don’t treat illegal dumping as a serious community issue.
“It is everyone’s responsibility to dispose of waste appropriately and quick thinking by the neighbours to take photos of the waste and truck was of great assistance to EPA in this case,” Mr Barry said.
EPA investigates horse remains in a Conservation Park
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) began an investigation in April following the discovery of the 13 horse carcasses that had been illegally dumped at Mt Magnificent Conservation Park, near Mt Compass, about 60 kilometres south of Adelaide.
A member of the public stumbled upon the decomposed remains and reported it to the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) which notified the EPA.
EPA Manager Investigations and Tactical Support, Stephen Barry, said the EPA has been working with Thoroughbred Racing SA to identify those responsible.
“It appears that these animals were disposed at this location over a long period of time, prior to their recent discovery,” Mr Barry said.
The area where the horses were found was examined by an EPA investigations team and evidence was gathered from the site.
The EPA can prosecute for illegal dumping with penalties ranging from a maximum $250,000 for a corporation or a $120,000 fine and two years’ imprisonment for individuals.
EPA welcomes your feedback
The EPA has made improvements to its website by being more user-friendly featuring drop-down menus making it easier to navigate through its wealth of information.
As part of an EPA commitment to maintain an excellent standard of service, feedback and comments are encouraged to develop further an understanding of the things that people regard as important to make more improvements.
The EPA’s services are covered by a Complaints Management Policy which can also be accessed through the Feedback section of the EPA website.
20 years of environmental protection
Twenty years ago on 1 May 1995 the Environment Protection Act 1993 (EP Act) came into effect, providing the legal framework for stronger protection of South Australia’s unique and productive environment.
Tony Circelli, now the EPA’s Chief Executive, joined the Office of the EPA in 1994 as it prepared for the EP Act to come into effect the following year.
Mr Circelli noted the anniversary milestone provides the EPA with the opportunity to reflect on the achievements and challenges of the last twenty years – and also herald the future.
“The EP Act replaced six separate Acts and various statutory authorities and licensing and approval requirements, resulting in major streamlining and strengthening of existing laws. Environmental issues including air quality, water quality, waste management and environmental noise are covered in the one Act.
“Rob Thomas had been appointed to establish and head up the new Office of the EPA in the Department of Environment and Land Management. Once the EP Act was passed, the Authority’s (Board) members were appointed in September 1994 and met for the first time two months later.
“In our first year of administering the EP Act we issued over 1,500 licences that reflected the diversity of the state’s economy,” said Mr Circelli.
“With some reforms over the years, the EP Act remains a leading and contemporary regulatory framework in both a national and international context, with broad sustainability principles driving all that we do.
“As we embark on the next 20 years, the EPA is committed to engaging with the community and industry to ensure that environmental protection continues to deliver wellbeing and prosperity for all South Australians.”
South Australia 2015 Waste Summit
South Australia’s waste sector, urban development and business leaders and state and local government representatives recently gathered at the South Australia 2015 Waste Summit to consider reform and innovation for waste management.
The summit, held on 3 March, was convened by the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, the Hon Ian Hunter and jointly hosted by the EPA and Zero Waste SA.
Formally opening the summit, Minister Hunter highlighted South Australia’s leading track record and recent achievements in the waste and resource recovery industry and invited the summit guests to generate bold and exciting ideas to move the industry to the next stage.
Key speakers set the context for the discussion with Zero Waste SA CE Vaughan Levitzke charting Zero Waste SA’s transition to the future; EPA CE Tony Circelli outlining the EPA’s key waste issues and reform priorities; and NSW EPA Director Waste and Resources Recovery Stephen Beaman presenting on NSW’s waste reforms and experiences.
The waste summit guests then had the opportunity to put forward their ideas, priorities and challenges, focusing on eight key issues: Green Industries SA and SA’s waste strategy; urban renewal; waste derived fill; asbestos management; application and use of the waste levy; energy from waste; upfront levy and mass balance reporting; and other waste reforms.
Mr Circelli said the summit was a great success, with guests enthusiastically contributing to the discussion.
“We sincerely thank everyone for their input and commitment to ensuring that South Australia continues to play a leading role in waste management and resource recovery,” said Mr Circelli
“All the comments and key themes provided at the summit will be compiled and made available on the EPA and Zero Waste SA websites. Importantly, this feedback will inform the directions for Green Industries SA and EPA project priorities and industry consultation.”
Site Contamination Review
The EPA has welcomed the report of the Site Contamination Review Committee, established by the EPA Board in 2014 after the Clovelly Park and Mitchell Park groundwater contamination case attracted considerable public attention.
The Board-appointed committee was chaired by Cheryl Batagol, Chair of the Vistorian EPA and made up of senior state government members and public health experts, and reviewed areas including testing, monitoring and communicating historic site contamination, particularly in the way that potential health risks are prioritised.
The report’s 11 recommendations cover five themes of: working together; building capability; working with the community; transparency and accountability; and urban renewal – unlocking potential.
EPA CE Tony Circelli welcomed the review and its findings.
“We have already begun reviewing and improving our engagement with communities around contaminated sites, and we will work through the committee’s recommendations to ensure we continue to improve the management of South Australia’s legacy issues from our industrial heritage.”
Committee chair Cheryl Batagol said the committee concluded that legacy site contamination is generally well managed but there were opportunities to improve, particularly in relation to interagency coordination, capability, community engagement and transparency.
“The EPA has procedures and protocols for regulating site contamination, which were applied in the case of Clovelly Park. However, they were not able to deal with the significant controversy and heightened public interest that arose in this instance,” added Ms Batagol.
“In undertaking this review, the Committee listened to members of the community and organisations about their issues of most concern. This often had to do with the expectation to be engaged early, regularly and effectively; and having certainty that contamination is effectively managed.”
Mr Circelli said that South Australia has made significant progress in managing site contamination in the past five years since legislative provisions were introduced in July 2009.
“The reforms realised through this review, along with the ongoing review of our practices and learning from Australian and overseas EPAs, will only further our efforts to better address legacy issues and importantly ensure that the community is more involved and engaged in this work.
“Through the ongoing review of our practices, South Australians can be confident that the most effective practices will be employed in SA, and that SA remains at the forefront of proactively dealing with site contamination in Australia.”
A copy of the Committee’s report is available on the EPA website.
Updating Ionising Radiation Regulations
The EPA has conducted a comprehensive review of the Radiation Protection and Control (Ionising Radiation) Regulations 2000(Ionising Radiation Regulations) under the Radiation Protection and Control Act 1982. Proposed amendments are now being drafted to come into effect on the 1st September 2015.
The Ionising Radiation Regulations provide the detailed requirements for protecting the health and safety of people and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation.
Commitments have been made by all Australian States and Territories to implement a uniform national framework for radiation protection and these are documented in the National Directory for Radiation Protection published by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.
The main initiatives requiring implementation are the adoption of exemption levels for radionuclides; national codes and standards; and a radiation incident reporting framework. The proposed amendments to the Ionising Radiation Regulations seek to implement these initiatives.
At a recent well-attended information session, the proposed amendments were well received and helped raise awareness and understanding of the proposed amendments. A detailed explanatory report is also available via the EPA website.
EPA contributes to LeFevre public meeting
The EPA continues to take every opportunity to actively participate in the ongoing community discussion about environmental and planning issues for the LeFevre Peninsula community.
Peter Dolan, the EPA’s Operations Director, Science, Assessment and Planning recently joined speakers at a public meeting held by the City of Port Adelaide Enfield to discuss issues associated with the recommendations of the Report of the Select Committee on Land Uses on LeFevre Peninsula.
Port Adelaide Enfield Mayor Gary Johanson said the meeting provided an opportunity for the community to ask questions and hear from the government on these issues.
Mr Dolan explained the EPA’s role in licensing activities of environmental significance, assessment of new proposals, responding to complaints and ambient air quality monitoring on the Peninsula. He also reaffirmed the EPA’s commitment to continue working with the Port Adelaide Residents Environment Protection Group.
The Member for Lee and Assistant Minister for Planning, the Hon. Stephen Mullighan MP, the Hon. Mark Parnell MLC and senior SA Health and Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure staff also addressed the meeting, which was also attended by the local Member for Port Adelaide, the Hon. Dr Susan Close MP.
January’s devastating Sampson Flat bushfire saw a range of government agencies, including the EPA, swing into action to support the affected communities in their time of need.
The EPA Incident Management Team and Bushfire Recovery Project Board collectively ensured our involvement and contribution to the recovery effort was effectively managed and coordinated across government.
Our main concerns following the fires were the protection of water resources and appropriate disposal of hazardous waste (chemicals and CCA timbers), animal carcasses and fire-affected asbestos. Through our continued involvement as a member of the State Emergency Management Committee and the State Recovery Office, we were able to support the agencies leading the response efforts and provide advice to government on environment protection matters.
The EPA set up single points of contact for each of the three affected councils in the Adelaide Hills, SA Water and the Department for Environment Water and Natural Resources. This cooperative effort ensured the EPA gave expert advice and assisted the community during the recovery phase.
Our team continues to advise where needed and discussions have also commenced with local government on levy waivers in relation to waste produced by the bushfires.
Anyone requiring further information about environment protection matters arising from the bushfire can contact the EPA on 8204 2004. Country callers should ring 1800 623 445. Please mention ‘bushfire’ to be directed to the appropriate person to assist with your enquiry.
Seagrass cores reveal historical pollution
EPA marine scientists are collaborating with SA Water and Spanish researchers to study metal pollution throughout South Australia’s marine waters.
A clearer picture of the historical accumulation of metals in sediments will inform the EPA’s regulation of discharges and managing the ongoing legacy of contamination in areas such as the northern Spencer Gulf.
The pilot project will investigate whether coring the rhizome mat of the long lived seagrasses in our gulfs is able to reveal historical pollution loads.
In addition to this information, estimates of carbon can be derived from the same cores, improving our knowledge of blue carbon in South Australia’s marine environments.
In December, the EPA joined researchers from SA Water, Edith Cowan University, the Centre d’Estudis Avancats de Blanes (Spain) and the Universitat Autonoma Barcelona (Spain) to take cores of seagrass rhizome mat and sediment from various locations in Gulf St Vincent and Spencer Gulf.
Principal Scientific Officer Sam Gaylard says the pilot study should reveal the history of metal pollution from Port Pirie, Whyalla and the Barker Inlet over the past 150 years.
“South Australia’s gulfs have some of the largest meadows of long-lived seagrass in the temperate world with significant value for both long-term histories of pollution and blue carbon accounting.
“During our recent field trip we were also able to core in areas that have not been investigated before including temperate mangrove sediments and saltmarsh which can potentially enhance blue carbon accounting throughout Southern Australia,” said Mr Gaylard.
It is anticipated the findings of the study will inform the regulation of current pollution from both large industrial sources and from wastewater and stormwater.
It will also reveal the fate of metals historically discharged in the northern Spencer Gulf, which could be resuspended by increases in shipping and dredging. It is expected that this work will give us indications of the background concentrations of metals prior to European settlement and even whether natural processes such as fires can effect metals in the marine environment, assisting our ability to define harm.
As the year draws to a close I would like to take this opportunity to thank Monitor readers—our many stakeholders, licensees, partners, members of the community and colleagues—for your ongoing support and interest in the work of the EPA over the last 12 months.
It has been an eventful year with a number of highlights:
Our 2013–14 annual report includes details of this work and highlights for the first six months of the year including:
- the EPA’s significant input into legislation passed by the state government as part of the Nyrstar transformation project and the state government decision to approve the redevelopment of the lead and zinc smelter
- our study of noise impacts from the Waterloo Wind Farm
- publication of the first series of nearshore marine aquatic ecosystem condition reports.
Since July we have also seen:
- the presentation of an EPA licence to Kimberly-Clark Australia (KCA), representing the culmination of many years of work with the Millicent paper mill to transition from their 50-year indenture and achieve major improvements in their environmental performance for the benefit of the nearby Lake Bonney and local community
- ongoing input to the state government planning review—Our Ideas for Reform
- a new improved annual compliance plan for 2014–15 providing transparent reporting on our regulatory work.
Our main challenge for the year has been the ongoing management of the state’s legacy site contamination with a particular focus on Clovelly Park and Mitchell Park. Recent testing to determine the extent of the contamination has been the most extensive testing program undertaken by the EPA and indeed by any organisation in the southern hemisphere. The latest results announced earlier this month provide the clearest picture yet of the exposure risk and environmental conditions in the area with vapour intrusion which was found to be limited to just 9 of the 1,400 properties. Relocation of these affected residents by Housing SA is nearly completed.
It was therefore timely for me to be an invited guest of the Taiwan Government to attend the International Conference on Remediation and Management Strategies of Soil and Groundwater Pollution held in Taipei late last month. The 3-day conference showcased international guest speakers sharing knowledge and experiences on regulation of pollutants, innovative technologies and site contamination management strategies.
I also attended a meeting of EPA heads from 8 from Asia Pacific countries, to discuss the status of regulatory frameworks and issues such as the availability of environmental funds for remediation of ‘orphaned’ sites.
South Australia’s EPA represents Australia on the Working Group on Remediation for Soil and Groundwater Pollution of the Asian and Pacific Region. This group promotes research activities, including through the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE), policy development and management strategies for remediation techniques on soil and groundwater contaminated sites.
We are looking forward to another busy year in 2015—the 20th year of environment protection through the Environment Protection Act 1993 which came into effect in 1995. Importantly next year will see the finalisation of our new Strategic Plan (for 2015–18) which will set the agenda for better environmental outcomes and seek to identify ways the EPA, as the regulator, can work with business, community and government to achieve a more prosperous future for South Australia.
I wish you all the very best for a safe and relaxing holiday season and a sustainable and successful year in 2015.
On the national stage
In early December the Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators Network (AELERT) Forum met in Canberra to share and exchange knowledge with 70 leading environmental regulatory practitioners from all jurisdictions across Australia and New Zealand.
Chaired by the EPA’s Chief Executive, Tony Circelli, the Forum presented and canvassed a comprehensive regulatory framework developed by AELERT that identifies 12 facets for better regulatory outcomes. These were explored through experiences brought by the delegates, with discussion to consider and identify common challenges, and develop strategies for better practice.
The insights gained from the Forum will further inform the development of a regulatory best practice framework for environmental regulators, as well as continue to encourage stronger connections and collaboration between Australian and New Zealand environmental regulators.
The Forum was attended by representatives from South Australia’s Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Department of State Development and the EPA. AELERT has a strong and growing membership base with 182 member agencies from across Australia and New Zealand.
EPA online annual report
The EPA’s 2013–14 Annual Report is now available as a new user friendly online (HTML) version, making it easier to access and find information of interest.
This is the first major EPA publication to be made available in this format—paving the way for future publications to be presented in this way.
In addition, the new format includes features that assist people with a disability who may use assistive technology to read or listen to online content.
Highlights in this year’s annual report include:
- the release of the 2013 State of the Environment Report
- targets set for the ongoing management of Lake Bonney in the South East
- improved regulation and reduced red tape for the tuna industry
- significant input into legislation passed by the state government as part of the Nyrstar transformation project and the state government decision to approve the redevelopment of the lead and zinc smelter
- the study of noise impacts from the Waterloo Wind Farm
- publication of the first series of near-shore marine aquatic ecosystem condition reports
- delivery of the EPA’s first annual compliance plan for 2013–14
- establishment of an active social media presence by launch of an EPA Twitter account.
Site contamination update
Earlier this month the EPA released the test results for groundwater contamination and soil vapour intrusion in the Clovelly Park-Mitchell Park investigation area.
House-specific results were distributed to all 1,400 homes in the assessment area. Residents received a letter with their results, a frequently asked questions fact sheet and a results summary indicating the total number of houses falling within each category of the indoor air levels response range. Copies have also been mailed to property owners who do not reside in the area.
Residents who are directly impacted by the results of the assessment program were visited individually in their homes by members of the Environmental Management Project Team—a cross-government project team assembled to engage with the community and facilitate timely delivery of information—together with representatives from Housing SA.
Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Minister Ian Hunter said his priority was to communicate the results of the assessment to all the residents in the area.
“This assessment provides the clearest picture yet of the environmental conditions in the area and whether there is any health risk related to TCE exposure,” Mr Hunter said.
“It clears the vast majority of the assessment area from any health risk from TCE exposure.
“The report indicates that whilst groundwater contamination does exist, soil vapour intrusion above two micrograms per cubic metre of air is limited to nine occupied properties in the relocation area of Clovelly Park.”
Updating the Radiation Protection and Control Act
In late 2013 the EPA undertook public consultation on the draft Radiation Protection and Control Bill to update the Radiation Protection and Control Act 1982.
The response to submissions is now available, along with a revised version of the draft Bill.
The future progress of the Bill is subject to the determination of the government of the day and its ministers. Cabinet approval is required for the Bill to be introduced to Parliament. It must then be debated and approved by both houses of Parliament and further changes may occur during this time. Following Parliamentary approval, the Bill must be proclaimed by the Governor for it to become an Act of Parliament and come into effect.
The Radiation Protection and Control Act regulates activities involving radiation sources and provides for the protection of people and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation. The draft Bill seeks to update administrative and enforcement provisions, which have not been reviewed since the Act’s commencement in 1982, and implement national commitments for consistent legislation and improved security of radioactive sources.
The key changes in the Bill are:
- Financial assurances (clause 42) to ensure there is a financial safety net in instances where, for example, a business goes into liquidation and cannot afford to safely dispose of radiation sources, or where a radiation incident has occurred and the remediation costs exceed what the business can afford.
- Death, bankruptcy, etc of holder of an authority (clause 53) to clarify who is to be the next holder of an authority if the holder dies, becomes bankrupt, insolvent or placed under administration.
- Offence to abandon radiation source (clause 33). This new clause ensures that sources are not intentionally or recklessly abandoned, creating a potential safety or security risk, particularly when the ownership of the source is in question.
- Responsible person—references to and the definition of the ‘responsible person’ have been removed.
- Maximum penalties have been increased with regard to the nature of the legislation and the particular offences they relate to, on the basis of the worst possible offence which could occur. The Bill, and maximum penalties, will be subject to further scrutiny by Cabinet and Parliament before becoming legislation.
A new green future for Kimberly-Clark in SA’s South East
It was a landmark occasion for the South East when Kimberly-Clark Australia’s (KCA) Millicent Mill ended its 50-year indenture and transitioned to an environmental licence under the Environment Protection Act last month.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Chief Executive Tony Circelli formally presented the new licence to the mill’s manager Scott Whicker and commended KCA for making significant environmental improvements over the past decade.
State Treasurer Hon Tom Koutsantonis MP, Minister for Investment and Trade Hon Martin Hamilton-Smith MP, and Robbert Rietbroek, Vice President and Managing Director for Kimberly-Clark Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands attended the event with local Members of Parliament, local government representatives and senior KCA officials also present.
The KCA paper mill near Millicent has operated under a 50-year indenture, issued by the State in 1964. The indenture outlined various aspects of the operation including rights to discharge all effluent into the adjacent drain which flows to Lake Bonney.
Mr Circelli said that the EPA has been working closely with KCA since 2002, with significant progress over the last five years, in preparation for the end of the indenture.
“Kimberly-Clark has not only dramatically reduced the volume of its wastewater discharges, but the quality of that water has improved greatly, with a 95 percent reduction in phosphorous load and an 89 percent reduction in nitrogen load in recent years,” said Mr Circelli.
Lake Bonney is South Australia’s largest freshwater lake and a precious natural resource.
Other significant improvements are:
- wastewater discharge decreased from a peak of 35 megalitres a day in 2010, to currently around 12 megalitres per day
- a 60% decrease in suspended solids
- a change in water colour which signifies improved physical, chemical and bacteriological conditions, from 129 HU (Hazen units) to 14 HU (water colour).
Mr Circelli also acknowledged the notable improvement in biodiversity.
Aquatic plants around the fringes of the lake have increased, and there has been an increasing numbers of insects, crustaceans and fish including two threatened fish species in the lake—the Southern Pygmy Perch and Dwarf Galaxias.
“These improvements in environmental quality have led to the re‑opening of the lake to human-powered craft such as canoes and tinnies. This was a key environmental objective sought by the local community and points to recognition of the lake’s re-emergence for recreational activities for the benefit of the community,” said Mr Circelli
EPA tours South East industry and development
While in the South East last month, Chief Executive Tony Circelli and Executive Director Operations Andrew Wood also visited the Mount Gambier Railway land development, Mayura Cattle Feedlot, Timberlink Tarpeena timber mill and SA Water sites.
Mr Circelli said “Visiting these businesses was a reminder of the important role we have in proactively managing environmental impacts in the region and how this contributes to the strength of regional businesses and the state’s economy.”
The EPA has been working with SA Water to prioritise upgrade works for all 21 regional facilities based on treated effluent quality, development pressures and the receiving environment for the final effluent.
“The site tours provided an opportunity for us to visit the facilities together and discuss current performance and opportunities for improvement.
“Our thanks go to the management and staff at these sites, for their generous time and briefings on their operations and current challenges,” said Mr Circelli
AELERT Secretariat moves to Adelaide
The Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators NeTwork (AELERT) Secretariat has now formally relocated to Adelaide, hosted within the EPA.
This follows the appointment of EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli, to the position of AELERT Chair. The relocation also sees the commencement of new AELERT Secretariat staff members, Debbie Bletsas and Kiran Groom.
Mr Circelli said the EPA appreciates this opportunity to contribute to AELERT and support the valuable collaborative work of the regulatory colleagues.
“I would also like to thank the Victorian EPA for their outstanding support in hosting the AELERT Secretariat for the last 4 years, and the outgoing Executive Officer Nicole Maher, who has greatly assisted in the transition to Adelaide,” he said.
Debbie Bletsas comes to AELERT from the South Australian Parliament where she worked as a Research and Executive Officer to a variety of South Australian Parliament Standing Committees. Debbie has a background in law and is keen to assist collaborative working practices across the AELERT membership.
Kiran Groom was most recently employed at RiAus, which promotes and embeds science in everyday life. With a degree in Environmental Science and extensive experience in new communication technologies, Kiran brings a solid understanding of environmental issues to her role as a communications specialist.
AELERT is a collective of environmental regulators from all levels of government across Australia and New Zealand which provides a platform for members to connect and collaborate in their work. The network enables the important exchange of resources, knowledge and experience relating to environmental regulatory practice and opportunities to work together to improve the ‘regulatory craft’.
Site contamination auditors’ forum
The EPA’s recent Site Contamination Auditors Session were held earlier this month.
Management of offsite contamination affecting third-party land, the audit system and public health issues; and stakeholder and community engagement were among the many topics discussed at the EPA’s recent Site Contamination Auditors Session held earlier this month.
The annual event is always well attended and this year 20 EPA accredited auditors from New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia joined their South Australian colleagues.
For the first time, members of the Site Contamination Audit System Improvement Group also presented case studies to the group for discussion. The session provoked interesting discussions and valuable feedback, which will be used by the EPA in finalising the current review of site contamination guidance documents.
West coast water quality monitoring
The EPA’s marine biologists recently travelled to the west coast to collect monitoring data for the region’s first set of nearshore marine Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Reports (AECRs).
Monitoring along the 350 km stretch of water from Coffin Bay to Point Bell near Fowlers Bay is logistically difficult. Exposed coasts and long distances between monitoring sites make the daily site selection dependent on the weather forecast, access points for safe launching and shelter from the exposed seas.
The region’s nearshore environment condition is typically expected to be some of the best in South Australia. At many locations, extensive dense seagrass meadows and rocky reefs covered in large brown algae were found. However, in some of the sheltered bays close to the small townships, there was evidence of nutrient enrichment suggesting that even small populations can start to have an impact on the nearshore marine environment.
This monitoring work will help the EPA and local communities to intervene early and prevent future seagrass loss. In many circumstances seagrass loss can lead to significant economic impacts on local fisheries and sand stability. Often the seagrass can never regrow, resulting in a permanent economic cost to the state.
As well as completing the nearshore assessment, the EPA team visited a group of offshore islands recently declared a Sanctuary Zone in the state’s Marine Park program, including St Francis Island which is a part of the Nuyts Archipelago Wilderness Protection Area. These remote locations are useful references as they reveal information about the condition of habitats where there is very little human activity. This understanding of reference conditions will enable informed decisions about what is impacted and whether some activities need to be regulated differently in affected areas.
The AECR program uses extensive information on the biology and the water chemistry of a location to determine the condition of the nearshore marine environment. Summaries from the program are used for State of the Environment reporting, while finer-scale results inform whether the region is being impacted by high nutrient loads or poor water clarity. The findings of this program assist the regulation of discharges—through EPA licensing, and the work of other agencies such as NRM.
Now it is back to the desk for the marine biologists, to analyse the data, interpret the findings and generate the AECRs for publishing in mid-2015.
Read about the latest nearshore marine AECR program.
EPA focus for 2014–15
The Corporate Plan 2014–15 sets out 5 focus areas for the EPA's work.
Safer communities, environmental knowledge, effective response, safeguarding resources and being a leading regulator are the 5 focus areas for the EPA’s work which is set out in our Corporate Plan 2014–15.
The Corporate Plan identifies the key initiatives to pursue and deliver the environmental goals outlined in the 2012–15 Strategic Plan, and the EPA’s vision for a better environment, protected for all South Australians.
Capturing environmental information and knowledge to better understand the environment, and monitoring industry activity to ensure compliance with EPA policies and regulations are key areas in the plan.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said this Corporate Plan maintains the EPA’s focus on managing the environmental harms faced by the state, and safeguarding our precious resources.
“It also recognises the contribution that well-practised regulation makes towards our economic competitiveness and overall prosperity, while ensuring that we meet our current needs but do not compromise those of future generations” he said.
The EPA will also undertake a number of initiatives to ensure the effectiveness of its regulation through monitoring programs, risk-based interventions and strong enforcement. This work is set out in further detail in the supporting Annual Compliance Plan 2014–15.
This is the third and final Corporate Plan under the current Strategic Plan. It outlines how public value will be best delivered and how the EPA contributes to the wider priorities of government, including the Strategic Priorities of Government and the longer term targets in South Australia’s Strategic Plan.
We appreciate the valuable feedback from our stakeholders which has helped shape this plan.
We are now planning the development of the EPA’s next strategic plan which will set the longer term goals and priorities.
Managing SA’s legacy contamination
Groundwater and site contamination have been at the forefront of the EPA’s work over recent months
We continue to work closely with local residents, businesses, the Clovelly Park Mitchell Park Environmental Management Project and local government, to manage the legacy impacts of past polluting practices.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said the EPA’s focus is the people who live in the areas currently under investigation and the agency is committed to ongoing communication and engagement to provide residents with all the most up-to-date information available.
“Ensuring the public is safe has always been our priority. We enjoy a relatively good environment in our state, but we have challenges such as dealing with the legacy of past contamination,” said Mr Circelli.
“This is a challenge that all modern urban environments face. With the legislative framework introduced in July 2009 the EPA now has the powers to deal with these historical problems caused by poor environmental practices of the past.
“We will continue our efforts to protect affected communities and to engage local residents and stakeholders to explain our approach in dealing with site contamination.”
The Parliament’s Statutory Authorities Review Committee is conducting an inquiry into the operations of the Environment Protection Authority, particularly regarding public notification protocols of contamination.
Last month Mr Circelli appeared before the Committee to present the EPA’s submission and to respond to questions. In his opening address he said the EPA looks forward to the outcomes of the inquiry.
“We are confident it will assist both the EPA and Government more broadly in determining future improvements, as well as improving the understanding and level of community conversation around site contamination and the management of legacy issues in South Australia” said Mr Circelli.
EPA Board review
The EPA Board is taking this opportunity to review how we can improve our work in managing legacy site contamination issues. This review will look at how site investigations and assessments are prioritised and conducted, and how the EPA communicates with residents and other stakeholders.
A committee has been formed to undertake the review, led by Victorian EPA Chair, Cheryl Batagol who is an expert in bringing restorative justice to those affected by environment protection issues. The current site contamination at Clovelly Park and Mitchell Park is being used as a case study to capture learnings and identify areas for improvement.
Mr Circelli said: “Provisions for managing and responding to site contamination have been in place for 5 years now. We welcome this review as an opportunity to ensure we are best positioned to continue dealing with legacy contamination issues for the next 5 years.”
Clovelly Park/Mitchell Park
The Clovelly Park Mitchell Park Project Management Team was established in August to lead and coordinate the whole-of-Government response to the environmental issues in these 2 suburbs. This team is led by Richard McLachlan (seconded from Renewal SA) with Steve Dangerfield and support resources from SA Water managing the communications and engagement with the affected residents.
This team is working closely with the Clovelly Park and Mitchell Park communities to ensure concerns are heard, questions are answered and the current complex drilling and testing program is fully explained.
As well as supporting the Team, the EPA will continue to focus on its regulatory role in assessing the nature and extent of the environmental issue and undertaking the testing program. In addition, it provides other government agencies involved with the project the opportunity to focus on their functions and specific areas of expertise.
In July a Community Reference Group was convened by the EPA to provide a forum for discussion and information sharing, and to ensure community questions and concerns are addressed in a timely and consistent manner. This group is made up of community members who actively represent local communities and other key stakeholders, and now meets regularly under the Chair of the project team.
Further assessment at Beverley
Further testing of known groundwater contamination around former and existing industrial sites at Beverley will commence in November.
The EPA has previously advised residents that chemical substances were identified in the groundwater at Beverley and surrounding suburbs and that it should not be used for any purpose until further notice.
As part of investigations for declaring a wider groundwater exclusion zone in Beverley due to the known presence of groundwater contamination, the EPA has sought new advice from SA Health about risks associated with TCE that has been detected. We have agreed that further testing is warranted as a precaution.
The source of this TCE contamination has not yet been determined due to the number of industries currently and formerly operating in the area.
Residents and businesses in the area are being kept up to date on the current groundwater testing program via letters, public information sessions and online updates. In addition a Community Reference Group with representatives from residents, businesses, local health and education bodies, councils and the EPA is being established.
Radiation emergency response
The EPA’s Radiation Protection section now has its own dedicated Emergency Response Team (ERT).
The team will respond to any radiation incidents including hazardous materials (HAZMAT) and chemical, biological, radiation and nuclear incidents.
The new team adds to the EPA’s existing emergency response capacity, ensuring round-the-clock ability to respond to pollution and radiation incidents. The Radiation ERT has its own identifiable field wear and vehicle. This will enable the EPA to deliver more robust and professional support to the emergency services (including SA Police and the Metropolitan Fire Service), industry and the public when dealing with any radiation incidents in South Australia.
This approach supports the EPA Strategic Plan and builds on existing links with the State Emergency Management Plan and Emergency Services.
If you need to report a radiation incident, please call the Radiation ERT on 1800 307 733.
EPA waste reform showcased at ENVIRO’14
The EPA recently joined leaders of the Australian environment industry, business and policy makers at the ENVIRO’14 conference held in Adelaide.
This year’s conference encompassed waste management, resource recovery, water, clean air and energy to explore and share experiences of pathways for better business, innovation and integration.
It was the ideal forum to highlight the EPA’s current waste reform program that focuses on key environmental issues within the waste and resource recovery sector. As South Australia’s leading environmental regulator, the EPA seeks to balance protection of the environment and human health with promoting resource recovery and supporting innovation.
At the conference Networking Breakfast the EPA’s CE Tony Circelli welcomed delegates to the second day of proceedings and officially released the Authority’s 2014–15 Corporate Plan and Annual Compliance Plan.
In addition, commercial drivers and regulatory reform in South Australia’s waste and resource recovery sector were outlined in a conference presentation by the EPA’s Principal Adviser Waste Management, Tiana Nairn.
Continued regulatory reform of South Australia’s waste and resource recovery sector will be a focus of the EPA’s work for the next 12 months and Ms Nairn presented the reform process and key priorities for 2014–15 including:
- review of the Waste Derived Fill Standard to make it easier to understand and simpler to use
- determination of mass balance reporting and monitoring
- improved stockpile management and, if appropriate, the development of stockpile guidance materials for different waste types
- improvements to current waste taxonomy and definitions
- development of a waste to energy policy.
A South Australian Waste Management Association of Australia Industry Reference Group as been established to assist the EPA in exploring the scope and likely pros and cons of various reforms through the sharing of knowledge and expertise.
Updating Schedule 1
The activities and wastes of environmental significance that require an EPA licence are listed in Schedule 1 of the Environment Protection Act 1993 (EP Act).
The EPA is currently reviewing Schedule 1 to update and clarify the provisions and better reflect modern practice and terminology, with particular focus on waste activities in Clause 3 – Waste Treatment and Disposal.
This is the first substantial review of the Schedule since the EP Act came into effect in 1995.
Current licensees, the waste management sector and the general public will be invited to comment on the proposed changes. The consultation documents will be made available on the website.
Tony Circelli appointed to lead EPA
Chief Executive Tony Circelli, appointed on 19 May 2014 intends to continue the EPA’s focus to further strenghten its regulatory function and build on the organisation’s strong scientific foundation.
Mr Circelli took up the post after holding the position of Deputy Chief Executive for the past 2 years. He joined the EPA on its establishment in 1995 and has since held a variety of senior executive positions, including national and state policy and strategy development, operations, and corporate governance functions.
He has significant knowledge of regulatory science and practice, is the current chair of the Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators Network (AELERT), and is the Presiding Member of the SA Radiation Protection Committee.
“We have significantly improved our regulatory approach in recent years, and I want to ensure that we continue to focus on risk-based outcomes in order to identify and solve the important issues,” Mr Circelli said.
“To do that, we need to be good listeners, engage with community, industry and our peers, and be open to doing things differently and better,” he said.
“It’s important that we continue to ensure our decisions are based on good science, which means we want to continue to work with co-regulators and the environmental and tertiary sectors to collaborate and share our expertise and knowledge.”
“We also need to be consistent in our regulation and practice, in promoting and pursuing a level playing field and certainty for business.”
Mr Circelli has an honours degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Adelaide and a Master of Business Administration from Deakin University. He is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and Fellow of the Governor’s Leadership Foundation.
Former Chief Executive Prof Campbell Gemmell resigned in April to return to Scotland.
Focusing on more sustainable outcomes
The annual EPA Round-table Conference themed ‘EPA Summit 2014: Changing Economy, Changing Environment’ was held at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) Auditorium on 20 May.
Hosted by EPA Board Presiding Member Mia Handshin and Chief Executive Tony Circelli, 21 of the state’s influential leaders from business, industry and government were invited to discuss how the changing economy and environment will impact on businesses. Discussion focused on recognising the core value offered by the EPA to protect the environment and drive more sustainable outcomes through better regulation. The Board also explored the connection between well practised regulation and the contribution this approach has on economic competitiveness and overall prosperity.
Two key questions were posed to participants to be discussed at table level:
- What value can the EPA provide for the environment and business in performance of its role and functions?
- What should the EPA do to further contribute to competitiveness?
A third question was posed at the end of proceedings for general discussion:
- How can business/participants support the EPA to deliver desired outcomes for SA.
Some of the key themes raised by the participants included:
• The EPA should be a strong and robust regulator when it is needed.
• A high degree of certainty is crucial to allow business to invest.
• The EPA needs to be the referee and the coach, and ensure a level playing field.
• Accreditation should be used to reward good performers, such as through an awards program.
• The EPA should continue to take a risk-based approach and recognise the need to be more prescriptive on high risk and poor compliance behaviour.
• Early engagement is needed when making changes to regulations.
Thank you to those of you who participated, your input is greatly appreciated and a summary report will be available soon.
New expertise for Radiation Protection Committee
The EPA welcomed five new radiation experts to its Radiation Protection Committee (RPC).
They are radiographer Cara Kirsten, scenitific expert Dr Nigel Spooner and industrial radiation expert Melissa Holzberger as members. There are also two new deputy members, scenitific expert Dr Judith Pollard and environmental sciences expert Iris Dobrzinski.
Ms Kirsten is the Managing Director of Sound Radiology and one of the founders of Sound Radiology. She has a background in clinical ultrasound, education and team management spanning more than 15 years. Dr Spooner holds the position of Adjunct Professor, Head, Environmental Luminescence Group at the University of Adelaide, and Ms Holzberger is the Founding Principal of the law firm, Sloan Holzberger Lawyers and a member of the Commonwealth’s Radiation Health and Safety Advisory Council.
Deputy Member Dr Pollard is a Visiting Research Fellow and Lecturer for the Department of Physics at University of Adelaide. She has received numerous prestigious awards including the Australian Institute of Physics Education Medal (2008), and the Dean's Certificate of Excellence in Teaching in the discipline of Physics and Mathematical Physics (1996). Ms Iris Dobrzinski is currently the Principal Policy Officer in Science and Innovation at the Department of Further Education Employment Science and Technology.
The Radiation Protection Committee (RPC) was officially appointed on 27 May for the next 18-month term, expiring on 26 November 2015.
The committee comprises 10 members and deputy members appointed by the Governor and it reviews the actual and potential exposures of harmful radiation to South Australians.
The functions of the committee are to advise the Minister in relation to the formulation of regulations and licence conditions under the Radiation Protection and Control Act 1982, as well as investigate and report on any matters relevant to the administration of the Act.
Engaging with the mining and community groups
As part of the Board’s ongoing commitment to enhancing stakeholder relationships and genuine engagement and part of the Board’s work program for the year, Presiding Member Mia Handshin and Board Members recently held two group discussions with representatives from the mining sector and from the environment and the community sectors.
The first session welcomed representatives from Rex Minerals, BHP Billiton (Olympic Dam), Santos Limited, Arrium, Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy (DMITRE) and South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy (SACOME).
Ms Handshin invited guests to reflect on the EPA’s strategic review, share what is most important to their organisations and provide their perception of current regulatory approaches and opportunities for improvement. Attendees agreed that the development process has to be robust and transparent.
Facilitated by Board Member Dr Rob Fowler, the second consultative forum was held for environment and community group members. The group discussed how a strong and supportive EPA is vital to ensuring a smart, sustainable and successful future for SA, and to build community confidence in the organisation.
A number of issues were raised of general consensus: the importance of the EPA’s independence; the commitment by the EPA to ongoing transparency of data and information; and the need to further inform on the EPA’s role and powers. It was agreed that ongoing dialogue is required and as a next step sought that a workshop be held to discuss the roles and responsibilities of the EPA.
Air monitoring station set up in Adelaide CBD
A new air monitoring station in Adelaide’s Central Business District (CBD) will give people access to up-to-date information about air quality in the area.
Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Ian Hunter and the EPA held a public launch of its new station, located the front of the SA Water building at 250 Victoria Square, on 1 May to invited guests and the community.
Data from the station will help the EPA better understand pollution sources and patterns in the CBD, and how they may impact on air quality.
The EPA has an air quality monitoring network comprising 14 sites throughout South Australia, monitoring 7 different pollutants.
By establishing this new station, important information can be collected on the air quality impacts from building and infrastructure changes presently being undertaken and help to inform future planning. This information can be used in conjunction with inventories, modelling and community engagement programs to underpin future policy directions aimed at reducing long-term risks to human health, and environment within the CBD. This approach supports the Premier’s strategic priorities Creating a vibrant city and Safe communities, healthy neighbourhoods.
To ensure availability of real-time information to the public, the data from the CBD station is also available via a digital display on the ground floor foyer of the SA Water/EPA Building.
Overall, the air quality in South Australia is relatively good compared with other states, due to its smaller population and because weather conditions help to clear pollutants out away from the city.
Data collected from the EPA’s air quality monitoring network is reported on a regular basis.
Adelaide hosts World Aquaculture Conference 2014
For the first time since 1999, Australia played host to the annual World Aquaculture Adelaide 2014 (WAA14) held from 7–11 June at the Adelaide Convention Centre.
With more than 2,000 delegates from around the world, WAA14 combined the international annual conference and exposition of the World Aquaculture Society with the highly successful biennial Australasian Aquaculture event.
The aquaculture industry has firmly established itself as a significant contributor to South Australia’s primary industries and regional communities. In 2010–11 the aquaculture industry became the State’s leading producer of seafood, contributing almost 54% of the total value of seafood production.
The EPA participated in the global trade show with an exhibit focused on the EPA’s role in the management of aquaculture in South Australia, and a number of key aquaculture projects such as the 90-day tuna project, the release of the SA Oyster Basket Recycling Feasibility Study and the monitoring of South Australian waterways using Aquatic ecosystem condition reports.
Principal Adviser Aquaculture Tara Ingerson presented on working with industry to achieve good environmental outcomes and joined Luke Fraser (PIRSA) to discuss the key outcomes and benefits from the 90-day tuna projects. Senior Scientific Officer Coby Mathews spoke about the recommendations of the feasibility study into recycling plastic oyster baskets.
The aquaculture industry in South Australia is regulated via the Aquaculture Act 2001 which is administered by PIRSA with the EPA playing a key role as a mandatory referral agency for aquaculture licence/lease applications and by providing advice on policies, legislation and environmental monitoring programs.
WAA14 was an opportunity for the international aquaculture community—academics, industry researchers, market and industry analysts, government officials, policy makers and industry representatives to build relationships, present their work, exchange ideas and develop a vision for the future of the aquaculture industry.
River Murray vessels compliance audit
Last month, water quality senior compliance officers undertook a vessel audit in the Renmark region to identify vessels that do not comply with the greywater requirements under the Code of Practice for Vessel and Facility Management (marine and inland waters).
The EPA’s Investigations and Tactical Branch also assisted carrying out site inspections of suspected illegal sand dumping and, where appropriate, issuing infringement notices.
The EPA works closely with houseboat owners both during and after the audits to help them rectify any breaches within a set timeframe. If required the officers can issue environment protection orders (EPOs) and court orders to vessel owners that continue to infringe.
In response to a recent increase in illegal sand dumping in the River Murray, the EPA has stepped up its campaign within the Murraylands region to educate and enforce compliance with the relevant legislation. Placing sand into any waters has adverse effects on water quality and impacts the local environment. This practice increases turbidity, smothers natural sediments, flora and fauna, fouls pumping infrastructure, increases dredging activity and contributes significantly to the creation of sand bars which impede navigation of the river channel.
All vessels from Lock 5 upstream to Woolshed Bend (612 km to the Murray Mouth) were included in the audit. Of the 91 vessels in the region, 21 were non-complaint with greywater requirements (77% compliance) and 4 non-compliant with black water requirements (96% compliance). One sand dumping occurrence was inspected and numerous illegal developments on the river bank.
Australia-wide National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) 2012–13 dataset released
New data on Australia’s pollution is now available on the National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) website.
The NPI is an internet-based database that provides free information to the community, government and industry on the emissions and transfers of 93 substances that have been identified as important due to their possible effect on human health and the environment.
The NPI is unique as it shows on a geographical basis, where substances are being emitted, and what amount. Each year this data is reported nationally by industry to the relevant state environment agency. EPA team members Naomi Struve, Brenton Reynolds and Savini Tennakoon are dedicated to validating and auditing the NPI process and data in South Australia.
NPI data is used in many ways by government, industry and the community. Here in South Australia for example:
- EPA load-based licensing uses NPI data to calculate the Resource Efficiency Fee (REF).
- The 2013 State of the Environment Report uses NPI data to show emission trends of key pollutants.
- Marine parks design and monitoring by the Marine Parks Unit in the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. NPI data is used in conjunction with other social and economic data such as aquaculture, recreational fishing, boat ramps, jetties, mining and shack settlements to assist in the designing of the marine park zoning network. NPI data will also support the marine parks monitoring and evaluation program.
For more details, read the Environment Protection Authority 2014 NPI Newsletter.
National Estuaries Network meeting
The National Estuaries Network (NEN) Science Symposium was held at the EPA on 22 May, for more than 40 representatives from across Australia.
This event was jointly hosted by the EPA and Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR).
Throughout the day, there were a number of discussions and presentations by EPA staff. Principal Scientific Officer Marine Sam Gaylard spoke about ‘Monitoring South Australian Estuaries: what and why?’ and Senior Scientific Officer Shaun Thomas addressed the question of ‘Contaminants in estuarine fish: where do we go from here?’
There were also presentations on the Port Waterways Water Quality Improvement Plan and the Adelaide Coastal Water Quality Improvement Plan (ACWQIP), with discussions focused on seagrass restoration both in SA and interstate.
The EPA project Catchment to Coast Focus for Water Quality Improvement Across Urban Adelaide funded and supported by Australian Government Caring for Our Country, was also highlighted at the NEN meeting. The project forms part of the ACWQIP implementation and informs people on actions that can be taken to improve the condition of water quality in our urban waterways and along Adelaide’s coast. The EPA will continue to keep the NEN updated on the progress of this project at their regular six-monthly meetings.
SA Water Team Leader Source Water and Environment Research Tim Kildea presented on the unique conditions of Gulf St Vincent as an inverse estuary while another presentation covered the conditions of Spencer Gulf.
EPA Chief steps down
Professor Campbell Gemmell will be leaving the EPA next month to return to Scotland for family reasons.
Current Deputy Chief Executive Tony Circelli has been appointed to take up the position. For more information, please see Minister Hunter's press release.
Minister Hunter retains environment portfolio
Following the election, Premier Jay Weatherill announced his new Cabinet on 26 March.
The Hon Ian Hunter MLC continues as Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation.
For the full list of ministry appointments, see news release from Premier Jay Weatherill.
On behalf of the EPA staff, Chief Executive Prof Campbell Gemmell congratulated Minister Ian Hunter and welcomed him back to the portfolio.
“Minister Hunter is supportive of the EPA’s work and its regulatory role,” said Prof Gemmell.
“The EPA looks forward to building on our relationship with Minister Hunter to progress the government’s environmental agenda and continue to protect the environment for all South Australians”.
Improved online licensing forms coming soon
A newly designed online applications and payments system for EPA licensees will be released in June.
The Environment Licensing Forms (ELF) upgrade is part of a major project within the EPA to modernise its licensing systems, to make them easier for our licensees to use and make our licensing processes more efficient.
ELF will enable licensees to access application forms and payments, with wider functionality for managing current and new licences.
L-R: Project Manager Megha Padhye and Doug Johnston (centre) discussing the new ELF system with licensees at a workshop held at the EPA head office in Adelaide.
The EPA recently sought feedback from licensees, inviting them to test the system during an ELF workshop and provided suggestions for improvement. The feedback has been positive with licensees expressing the improved system was modern and easy to use.
We would like to thank the licensees for their contributions to further enhance the system.
Radiation Protection Committee’s end-of-term meeting
The Radiation Protection Committee (RPC), an expert advisory body established under the Radiation Protection and Control Act 1982, recently held its last meeting for this 3-year term ending on 25 May 2014.
The committee comprises 10 members and deputy members appointed by the Governor and it reviews the actual and potential exposures of South Australians to radiation in the endeavour to minimise its harmful effects.
The functions of the committee are to advise the Minister in relation to the formulation of regulations and licence conditions under the Act, as well as investigate and report on any matters relevant to the administration of the Act.
Dr Carl-Magnus Larsson, CEO Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, was invited to present on the national uniformity in radiation protection and the status of radiation protection at the commonwealth level.
A special presentation was made to Committee Member Ms Jill Fitch who stepped down from her previous Member position and will commence as a Deputy Member in the next term. Ms Fitch has had an illustrious career in radiation protection spanning over 50 years and was awarded the Public Service Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2003 for outstanding public service, particularly in the field of radiation protection. She chaired the Radiation Protection Committee from 1998 to 2001, and has been a member since 2008.
The EPA would like to thank all members and their deputies for their participation and advice during this term.
Engaging Catchment to Coast project partners
In recent months, the EPA has engaged key partners in the delivery of the Caring for Our Country funded Catchment to Coast project.
The project is titled Catchment to Coast focus for water quality improvement across urban Adelaide and will be implemented from 2013 to 2018.
This project involves community engagement at catchment, sub catchment and local levels across the Adelaide region to improve coastal water quality. It will contribute towards improving urban waterways and coastal waters through the implementation of strategies outlined in the Adelaide Coastal Water Quality Improvement Plan (ACWQIP).
Building community capacity for water quality improvement is the main strategy area for this project, and equally important are on-ground action, signage at specific sites and some monitoring to inform managers of stormwater on how to best reduce sediment, coloured dissolved organic matter and nutrient loads from stormwater.
The EPA, along with key partners Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges (AMLR) NRM Board, Marine Discovery Centre (MDC), Cities of Unley, West Torrens, Adelaide, Charles Sturt and Onkaparinga and the Kaurna Heritage Group, will deliver the project over the coming five years.
The first engagement workshop was held at the MDC with AMLR NRM Board and local government staff on 5 November 2013. The workshop focused on planning for the development of water sensitive urban design (WSUD) demonstration sites and rain gardens. There were presentations from the EPA, AMLR NRM and the Cities of Unley, West Torrens and Adelaide on their current projects.
A second workshop was held on 21 February, with AMLR NRM Board staff, to ensure key project components are coordinated between the two agencies for a successful delivery.
In February, EPA CE Prof Campbell Gemmell and Chief of Staff Ros Agate travelled to Tasmania with Aron Hausler from the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), Vice Chancellor David Lloyd from University of SA (UniSA) and Trent Mader from Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), to learn about Tasmania’s Sense-T program, an innovative data/telemetry initiative.
The Tasmanian product is similar to a concept being developed here in South Australia, called SenSA (from ‘sensing’ and ‘South Australia’).
The trip to Tasmania sought to establish mutual grounds for collaboration between Sense-T and SenSA on two initial projects relating to the viticulture and aquaculture industries.
The group received an overview of Sense-T and discussed collaboration with representatives from the University of Tasmania and Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.
They were also taken to a site visit to a trial monitored research winery in Campania. While the Sense-T concept is still very much in the research stage, the visit provided some useful insights and identified a need to first review what is available in South Australia that could be useful in this project.
Work on the SenSA concept began in November 2013 when the OCIO ran a round-table with EPA support, to discuss the SenSA concept with a variety of high level participants. The government was identified as a key stakeholder in SenSA with industry and the broader community having significant roles to play.
Inaugural HEPA Forum
Following the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) recent decision to abolish the Standing Council on Environment and Water (SCEW), the heads of the state and territory environment protection regulators have decided to establish an informal collegiate forum.
To be known as Heads of EPA (HEPA), the group aims to provide a setting where Australian environmental regulators can share knowledge and experiences.
EPA CE Prof Campbell Gemmell and Deputy CE Tony Circelli attended and Campbell chaired the first HEPA Forum meeting on 20 February 2014, held at the Victorian EPA office in Melbourne.
The focus of this meeting was on establishing the terms of reference for the group, along with membership and meeting frequency. There was strong agreement that a forum was essential to facilitate collaboration, knowledge management and joint policy development on issues of common or national interest. Discussions also considered a forward work plan and reporting framework, as well as current issues in each jurisdiction.
It was proposed at the meeting to advise the Federal Department of the Environment that the HEPA group had been formed and seek guidance on potential collaboration with the National Environment Protection Council (NEPC) and Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators neTwork (AELERT), under an overarching single secretariat.
This is a joint initiative with the SA EPA and Victorian EPA. A subsequent meeting with the Secretary of the Federal Department consolidated the intention to collaborate on project areas of common interest, tackling air pollution, for example.
EPA welcomes new Board Member
The EPA welcomes Ms Roslyn DeGaris as the new Member of the EPA Board.
Ms DeGaris has her own consultancy business, DeGaris Consulting Pty Ltd, which specialises in supporting industry with energy, greenhouse gas and sustainability strategies and actions linked to changing legislation and practices. She was previously Group Sustainability Manager at Adelaide Brighton Cement, responsible for company government reporting and audits; and external and public reporting on sustainability.
Ms DeGaris previously participated in the Carbon Disclosure Project, Global reporting initiative, SA voluntary sector agreements, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), and has been active in the carbon trading strategy and legislative development. She is also a member of the Premier's Climate Change Council.
She has been appointed to the Board for 3 years from 23 January 2014 until 22 January 2017 for her practical knowledge of, and experience in, industry, commerce or economic development.
SA Oyster Basket Recycling Feasibility Study released
The EPA has been working collaboratively with the South Australian Oyster Growers Association (SAOGA), in conjunction with Regional Development Australia Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula (RDAWEP) and the Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy (DMITRE), to undertake a feasibility study into recycling plastic oyster baskets.
The aim of the SA Oyster Basket Recycling Feasibility Study was to 'identify cost-effective oyster basket recycling options that will value add to the efficient operation of the industry as a whole'.
The oyster industry uses 2.5 million baskets annually. Each year about 5–10%, or 150–200 tonnes, of these plastic baskets reach their end of life and must be disposed. Instead of sending the baskets to landfill, many oyster growers have been stockpiling them on their properties until more environmentally sustainable disposal by recycling option becomes available. It is estimated that this stockpile is currently 1,300–1,500 tonnes.
The feasibility study was officially released at an oyster industry information day held in Port Lincoln on 7 February. The session provided an opportunity for attendees to discuss the recommendations of the report and consider the next steps to progress a recycling option for this waste stream.
An important recommendation from the study was for industry to collaborate and tender out its disposal requirements in order to obtain the best price for recycling disposal and minimise its potential disposal management risks. At the information day, the industry association agreed to seek expressions of interest for a market-based response for a suitable and cost-effective way to recycle oyster baskets.
The oyster industry is the second largest aquaculture industry in South Australia. It produces up to 100 million oysters annually, contributing more than $100 million to gross state product, and creating jobs for more than 1,000 people.
The EPA’s pleased to be working collaboratively with the SA oyster industry to identify recycling opportunities for waste plastic oyster infrastructure and have been impressed with the proactive approach that the industry has taken. We will continue to assist the industry to implement the recommendations of the feasibility study.
Stakeholder consultation now open for site contamination guidelines
The EPA has conducted a review of its published site contamination guidelines following the amendment in 2013 of the National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure 1999 (ASC NEPM).
Guidance on the amendment, the national transition period and the EPA’s strategy for implementation of the ASC NEPM is available on the website.
As a result of the review, the following draft publications have been prepared and are now open for public consultation:
- Guideline for the assessment and remediation of site contamination (new).
- Guideline for the site contamination audit system (revised).
- Notification of site contamination that affects or threatens underground water (revised).
- A series of information sheets on the audit system and consultants (revised).
Information on the guideline review and consultation process is available from the website.
If you would like more information on the draft guidelines, please contact the Site Contamination Branch by email at EPAsitecontam@epa.sa.gov.au or phone 08 8204 9934.
New container deposit resources available on the website
To showcase the success of SA’s long-running Container Deposit Scheme (CDS), the online CDS section of the EPA website has been updated to highlight how the scheme operates and provide helpful resources for industry and the community to source the correct recycling information.
The improved CDS web pages incorporate a new FAQ section providing answers to a range of questions on refunds at depots, industry information, CDL and kerbside, the national CDS proposal, and a useful link to help you find your nearest depot.
There is also a number of testimonials on how CDS is making a difference for community groups across South Australia, general recycling information and an interesting look into the historical overview of container deposits.
South Australia introduced its container deposit legislation (CDL) in 1977, which to this day continues to be a highly successful environmental program aimed at litter reduction and resource recovery. The scheme has been so successful that in 2006 it was awarded the status of State Heritage Icon.
South Australia now leads the nation in the recovery, recycling and litter reduction of beverage containers with a current, overall return rate of 80.8%. With the refund scheme, beverage containers make up only 2.2% of litter in SA.
For everything you need to know about the CDS, click here.
90 Day Tuna Project sealed
The project team for the Change@SA Reducing Red Tape for the Tuna Industry Project has now finalised the Memorandum of Administrative Agreement (MAA) between the EPA, Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) and the Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association (ASBTIA).
This agreement provides a streamlined process for the assessment of tuna licence applications and chemical use, and provides broad guidelines that will underpin the review of the environmental monitoring programmes for the tuna industry.
The key outcomes resulting from the agreement include:
- Reduced red tape and regulatory burden for the tuna industry
- Improved relationships between the Government of South Australia and the seafood sector, and
- More effective and efficient management of the tuna industry, whilst ensuring risks identified by PIRSA and the EPA are adequately assessed, managed and monitored.
The agreement has now been endorsed and signed by the Chief Executives of the EPA, PIRSA and ASBTIA.
Preliminary discussions have taken place on the next steps and knowledge transfer to be applied to further sectors.
CE’s best wishes for a new year
A very Happy New Year to you all and I hope that you had an enjoyable and restful holiday season.
The New Year is off to a flying start and I expect it will be a challenging and busy period for us all. I look forward to continuing our working relationships in the coming 12 months.
In the year ahead, we plan to deliver a number of key environmental projects such as the implementation of the Adelaide Coastal Water Quality Improvement Plan (ACWQIP), the new National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure (NEPM) Guidelines, Water Quality EPP Review and launch a new electronic licensing system to name a few. We will continue on our journey to enhance stakeholder and community engagement by participating in a variety of environmental events and host our annual Round-Table Conference in May.
If you would like to know more about our projects and initiatives, I welcome you to follow @SA_EPA on Twitter and join the conversation.
State of the Environment video now online
Last September, the EPA released the 2013 State of the Environment Report (SoE) which aims to inform South Australians about the current state of the environment and provide an assessment of the EPA’s efforts to deal with significant environmental issues.
The SoE Report is a substantial body of work, and as a follow up and thank you to those that assisted with its compilation, we have created a 5-minute wrap-up video which provides a ‘snapshot’ of the key findings and trends from the report. The SoE video can be viewed on the EPA website.
EPA Board visit Port Adelaide
The EPA Board travelled throughout South Australia last year as part of its commitment to build and enhance stakeholder and community engagement.
The year concluded with a visit to the Port Adelaide region on 10 December for various meetings, site visits and held its monthly Board meeting.
Board Members met with representatives from Port Renewal, Renewal SA and Department Planning, Transport and Infrastructure, to discuss the proposed Port Adelaide Precinct Plan. Renewal SA has developed a Precinct Plan to provide a long-term framework to guide and prioritise renewal activities over the next 20 years.
A meeting was then held with representation from the local member and Port Adelaide Enfield Council staff to discuss residential dumping, development applications, the Gillman Master Plan, and the challenges and opportunities posed by the plans to rejuvenate Port Adelaide.
Board members subsequently visited the Port River Waterfront Precinct and various licensed sites including Incitec Pivot, Shell Bitumen, Exxon Mobil and Penrice Soda Products. They also took the opportunity to met Executives from the Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy (DMITRE) and Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) at Jeffries Buckland Park site to view and discuss the closure of the Ridley Corporation saltfields. More information about the closure of the saltfields will be available in coming editions.
The Board’s commitment to enhancing stakeholder relationships and engaging the community by holding a number of Board and community meetings throughout metropolitan and regional South Australia will continue throughout 2014. A calendar of events is already underway in the coming months so watch this space.
Illegal waste operators: you will get caught!
Illegal dumping is a serious problem in South Australia, costing State and local government more than a million dollars every year to clean up.
Illegal dumping not only creates a blot on the landscape, it damages our environment and puts at risk the health of our communities, and creates an unlevel market playing field for legitimate waste and resource recovery operators.
A team of dedicated and experienced investigators, who use sophisticated covert surveillance and investigative techniques to identify people and organisations involved in illegal dumping, have been working closely with councils, SAPOL and the community to target illegal waste operators and large-scale illegal dumping activities.
Last year, the EPA successfully closed 8 illegal landfills across the State and prosecuted 2 illegal operators for unlawful waste disposal, including a $15,000 fine for illegal asbestos dump.
The EPA takes a zero-tolerance approach to illegal dumping. Offenders will be forced to pay full clean-up costs as well as penalties imposed through the South Australian court system.
People with information about the specific types of illegal dumping being tackled by the new Unit should call the EPA Hotline – phone 8204 2004 or 1800 623 445 (non-metropolitan callers).
Best wishes for the festive season!
As this is the last EPA Monitor for 2013, I would like to wish you and your family a happy festive season and take this opportunity to reflect on the challenges and achievements in the past 12 months.
In January, the EPA welcomed a new Minister for Sustainability, Environment andConservation The Hon Ian Hunter MLC.
The Planning Review Committee (PRC) report (19 recommendations) was released in March which provided an outline on our current and future development planning, and examined the role the EPA plays in relation to the planning system and scope for improvement.
Deputy Premier and the Minister for Planning Hon John Rau MP declared the Port Pirie smelter Nyrstar transformation to be a major development under Section 46 of the Development Act 1993 in February. Nysrtar submitted a development application and it was supported by a Public Environmental Report submitted in early August demonstrating the environmental improvements anticipated if the site was to upgrade to latest technology. Experts from within the EPA assessed the: predicted improvements in air quality after upgrade; noise impacts during and after the upgrade water quality impacts from the upgraded acid plant; and site contamination management throughout. The EPA supported the development with conditions to minimise impact during construction and to finalise specific details of the upgrade.
The Round-table Conference 2013, hosted by Presiding Member Mia Handshin on 24 May, was attended by 43 stakeholders representing industry, environment and business groups. The conference focused on the environmental pressures identified in the 2012–15 EPA Strategic Plan, and strategic goals and priorities for stakeholders engagement in the newly released Communications and Engagement Framework 2013–15.
On 1 July, a new organisational structure was implemented as part of the on-going EPA Change Program and combined four divisions into two, with the organisation now structured into the Strategy and Business Directorate and a new Operations Directorate. During this time, we welcomed Andrew Wood as the new Executive Director of Operations.
In recognising and tackling particular environmental challenges in the state, we developed our inaugural Annual Compliance Plan 2013–14, which will be a key contributor in helping us to manage these challenges in the coming year.
The EPA released the Adelaide Coastal Water Quality Improvement Plan (ACWQIP) in August, a culmination of more than 5 years’ work and consultation with key stakeholders and the community to improve of water quality along Adelaide's coastline. To support the implementation of the plan, the Federal Government approved $2 m Caring for our Country funding for the next 5 years towards the ‘Catchment to coast focus for water quality improvement across urban Adelaide’ project.
Published every 5 years and the sixth of its kind, the State of the Environment (SoE) Report was presented to Minister Ian Hunter and officially released on 19 September. This important report provides evidence that environmental sustainability must remain at the forefront of government, business and community decision making to ensure the long-term prosperity of the state. It also reminds us that our quality of life, economic success, and social fabric are underpinned by the state of our environment.
As part of the EPA's commitment to engaging with communities and in conjunction with the SOE launch, we initiated our social media presence starting with a Twitter account @SA_EPA.
During the year, we dealt with a range of key compliance activities, some of which were direct response to the community. Of particular note was concern about noise from the Waterloo Wind Farm and the impact on nearby residents. In response, the EPA released the Waterloo Wind Farm Environmental Noise Study on 26 November, which involved monitoring and working with residents to complete noise diaries.
The EPA Board has also seen some changes when Deputy Presiding Member Mr Stephen Hains retired on 3 August, after almost 11 years of service. Board Members Megan Dyson, Jane Yuile and Terry Groom also left the Board when their terms concluded and attended their last Board meeting on 8 April. The Governor of South Australia His Excellency Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce appointed Mr Mark Withers and Dr Helen Macdonald as members on 8 August. I am very much looking forward to working with Mark, Helen and the rest of the Board Members over the coming years.
Many of you have also played host to the Board and Executive team when we visited licensees and travelled to the River Murray, Whyalla, Port Pirie, Clare and the South East, to gain a better understanding of the issues and environmental challenges facing our regional areas.
Some of the other key achievements include:
- The Change@SA 90-day project to streamline legislative process for tuna fishers between Department of Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA), the Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association (ASBTIA) and our agency to decrease the time it takes for licences to be assessed.
- New landfill bans for e-waste and fluorescent lighting under the Environment Protection (Waste to Resources) Policy 2010 (EPP).
- The new Le Fevre air monitoring stati7on at the North Haven Primary School.
- The third set of Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Reports (AECRs) and the first marine reports released on the health of South Australia’s inland and marine waters.
- Review and public consultation on the proposed revision of the Environment Protection (Water Quality) Policy 2003 and proposed amendments to the Radiation Protection and Control Act 1982 and the Radiation Protection and Control Bill 2013 for public consultation.
- Working with SafeWork SA on a joint initiative to raise awareness about asbestos in the home.
- Established the first groundwater prohibition area at Allenby Gardens.
- Successful prosecutions, investigations and other enforcement actions.
It has been a most eventful year and on behalf of the EPA, thank you for your support. I look forward to working with you in 2014. Have a safe and enjoyable break!
Annual Report 2012–13 available online
The EPA and Radiation Protection Annual Report 2012–13 is now on the website.
The 2012–13 financial year presented an outstanding opportunity for change and growth in the EPA. There were a number of new faces joining the leadership team. The EPA has also undertaken a change program, which strengthen the framework and capability of the agency to assist in becoming a more flexible and robust regulator, and provide a focus to improve engagement with key stakeholders.
The highlights and major initiatives include:
- Release of the new 2012–15 Strategic Plan.
- Development of the EPA’s first Annual Compliance Plan for 2013–14.
- Introduction of the EPA’s Organisational Change Program to review, simplify, streamline and strengthen EPA business.
- Extensive review of Nyrstar’s operations, which resulted in new licence conditions for the company.
- Release of the Communications and Engagement Framework 2013–15, which will guide the EPA’s communications and engagement activities over the next three years and support the organisation in meetings its strategic priorities in the 2012–15 Strategic Plan.
- Launch of real-time beach water advice to the public via email alerts.
- New licence conditions dealing with noise management for rail operators.
- Continued implementation of the Environment Protection (Waste to Resources) Policy 2010, where on 1 September 2012, materials produced in metropolitan Adelaide such as fluorescent lighting, television and computers were banned from direct disposal to landfill.
- Planning Review Committee’s final report on the EPA’s involvement in the South Australian planning system released via the EPA website.
Successful conviction for illegal asbestos disposal
The EPA has successfully prosecuted a local building contractor who, without permission, disposed of a significant quantity of asbestos in a bin at the north eastern suburbs premises of a well-known retail automotive dealership. The defendant was captured on CCTV at the time.
The successful prosecution in the Environment, Resources and Development (ERD) Court relates to the charge of unlawfully disposing of waste on 4 June 2013 in breach of section 34(2) of the Environment Protection Act 1993.
The defendant was convicted and fined $15,000 (plus costs) on this single count.
While the defendant pleaded that he was unaware that the material contained asbestos, the Court argued that the onus of responsibility was on the person disposing of the material to ensure that all safety measures were taken to guarantee that the asbestos being disposed of was done legally, and to a licensed landfill.
The Court acknowledged the defendant’s early guilty plea and cooperation during the EPA investigation. However, it found that this was a serious offence that had the potential for very grave social and environmental impact.
The magnitude of this penalty is a stern reminder that the EPA is serious about pursuing those in breach of the Environment Protection Act 1993, and that this type of illegal activity will not be tolerated.
Waterloo Wind Farm study released
The EPA has released the Waterloo Wind Farm Environmental Noise Study.
This is a highly important noise and meteorological monitoring study undertaken by the Air and Noise Branch from April–June 2013 which has attracted extensive interest around the world.
EPA CE Prof. Campbell Gemmell, Operations Director Science, Assessment and Planning Peter Dolan, Chief of Staff Ros Agate and Manager Air and Noise Kelvyn Steer, travelled to Waterloo on 26 November, to brief residents who participated in the monitoring on the key findings of the study. Later that day, they met with the local community at a meeting held in Clare to present the findings. Once the community was informed, the report was made available for the public.
Based on the findings, the EPA concluded that there was no evidence linking the noise from the Waterloo Wind Farm to adverse impacts on residents. As part of the study, the EPA considered relevant South Australian and international standards, and all were met.
The NSW EPA conducted a technical peer review of the methodology, data analysis and reporting, and found the study to fundamentally be of a high technical standard.
Wind farms are not a licensed activity by the EPA; however the General Environmental Duty under the Environment Protection Act 1993 applies. The EPA’s main role is to provide advice into development applications and review noise impact assessment undertaken at pre- and post-construction phases.
The EPA has also made it clear that the study does not provide absolute evidence that all wind farms perform in the same manner—topography, layout and weather conditions can all influence perceived outcomes and effects.
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is currently reviewing the impacts of wind farms on people’s health. Although the EPA does not consider there is a need to change its current wind farm guidelines, depending on the results of the NHMRC review, we would consider again if any justification exists to change the Wind Farms Environmental Noise Guidelines (2009).
The EPA would like to acknowledge the participation of residents of the Waterloo community, whose noise diaries were essential in focusing acoustic analyses on events and descriptions, and also acknowledge the cooperation of Energy Australia during the study.
EPA Board visits Tonsley redevelopment
This year the EPA Board focused on enhancing stakeholder relationships and engaging the community by holding a number of Board and community meetings throughout metropolitan and regional South Australia.
A recent visit was the Tonsley redevelopment site at Clovelly Park (formerly operated by Mitsubishi Motors) to hold the November meeting and meet with Project Director Vince Rigter and Director Environmental Services Industrial Projects Helen King from Renewal SA. The Board received a comprehensive overview of the project before touring the site to gain an understanding of its layout and view current infrastructure development.
The site is being redeveloped for manufacturing industry clusters associated with clean technologies that provide green collar jobs, with higher density housing proposed along the Tonsley rail line transit corridor. The reuse of the former Mitsubishi main assembly building, when adapted for reuse, will bring together education and industry in a way that encourages tenants to develop innovative and environmentally friendly technologies and construction methods.
The Sustainable Industries Education Centre aka ‘Super TAFE’ is a $120-million building and construction hub. It will cater for 6,500 students and 210 teaching staff per year when it opens in January 2014.
Tonsley will also become the home of Flinders University's largest single investment in educational facilities since the university was established more than 40 years ago. The new $120-million six-storey building will house the School of Computer Science, Engineering and Mathematics, for 2,000 students and 150 staff members. It is due for completion January 2015.
The Board also travelled to the Port Adelaide region on 10 December for various meetings, site visits and to hold its monthly Board meeting. Further details of this visit will be included in the next edition.
Subscribe to EPA beach alerts
Real time information on when it is not safe to swim in Adelaide coastal beach waters are available on the EPA website.
The beach alert icon will appear on the EPA website home page when stormwater is discharging into the sea.
Beaches in Adelaide are safe and healthy for 98% of the time. However, the water quality can be impacted by rainfall which flushes stormwater into the sea leaving discoloured water especially around drains.
There is a network of stormwater drains across the metropolitan area that collects run off from the streets and gutters when it rains and flow to the sea, creeks and rivers situated along the Adelaide Plains. These include the River Torrens, Barcoo Outlet, Onkaparinga River and Christies Creek.
The EPA sources real-time stormwater flow data from Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges to inform beach goers when stormwater is being discharged into the marine waters near the metropolitan beaches.
The beaches being monitored are from Semaphore in the north to Noarlunga in the south.
This summer there will be a further phase in the trial to control cyanobacterial algal blooms in the Torrens Lake. The trial will involve flows of fresh water into the lake which will result in flows downstream to the Torrens outlet at Henley Beach, possibly triggering a Beach Alert. The trial is designed to minimise water quality impacts on beach users and monitoring will occur to confirm this. Remember to avoid swimming in discoloured water. For further information, visit Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges website.
If you want to know when not to swim, simply subscribe for Beach Water Advice.
Better regulation, enforcement and networks
On 13–14 November, EPA CE Prof. Campbell Gemmell was invited to the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Conference in Brussels, run jointly with the Government of Flanders, to deliver a keynote speech on better regulation and the role of knowledge exchange and collaborating in developing and delivering best practice.
Campbell presented a paper, written jointly with EPA Deputy Chief Executive Tony Circelli, on the value of networks in enforcement in Europe and Australia focusing on initiatives of Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators network (AELERT).
This international event provided a unique opportunity to position South Australia as a leading environmental regulator and to enhance important policy positions, as well as using wide reaching communication platforms to profile and promote such policies and their effective implementation.
Driving better regulatory practice together
This year’s Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators Network (AELERT) Conference themed Driving Better Regulatory Practice Together in Melbourne on 13–14 November, brought together a collaboration of environmental regulators from all levels of government across Australia and New Zealand to discuss better regulatory practices to support effective and efficient protection and improvement of the environment.
Keynote speaker Professor Malcolm Sparrow from Harvard University opened the conference with a presentation on the Harms approach to regulation. Professor Sparrow elaborated:
“Controlling risks, or harms, is a central challenge for government regulators charged with the task of reducing societal ills and preventing bad things from happening. Understanding and unravelling the chain of components that comprise risk is the focus of my current research.”
EPA Harms Projects Program Manager Rob Lyons and Senior Advisor Reform Projects Sam Wade presented on the EPA's experience in implementing a harms-based approach, in a combined presentation with the Victorian EPA, and Better Regulation Program Manager Kimberly Maiolo presented on performance measurement and becoming a better regulator.
As South Australia’s leading environmental regulator, we are tasked with protecting the environment and contributing to the broader government agenda for the benefit of the community. The conference provided an excellent opportunity to develop closer networks with other regulatory bodies, and to exchange experience and resources.
There was also an opportunity for both strategic and operational staff to attend a workshop facilitated by the EPA. The purpose of the workshop was to share experiences, learn about issues/barriers, and map out better proactive reforms for the year ahead.
Corporate Plan 2013–14 released
The EPA has released its annual Corporate Plan 2013–14 that identifies priority areas for the year ahead.
This is the second plan to be developed under the EPA Strategic Plan and builds on our work to become a world class environmental regulator.
Importantly the plan draws on stronger connections to environmental pressures and trends as identified in the recently released State of the Environment Report 2013.
The EPA is refreshing its performance reporting approach in 2013–14. This will include a review of performance measures linked to the EPA Strategic Plan and Corporate Plan. By 2014–15 we aim to track our progress and provide updates against a revised suite of performance measures adding value to our regular corporate initiatives report that assesses progress against our Corporate Plan.
Monitoring and managing nearshore marine waters
The EPA has been monitoring the nearshore waters throughout the State to assess their condition and is now reporting this information in report cards called Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Reports (AECR).
New report cards will be published each year for one region, with the first set reporting on the condition of Gulf St Vincent and the lower Spencer Gulf, with the upper Spencer Gulf set to be released in 2014.
In a significant change to previous reporting, the EPA is now using many different measures to assess the condition of our waters, including seagrass and reef condition in addition to traditional water samples for nutrients and turbidity.
The program examines many different sites within a wider area (also called a biounit) to gain a broad indication of the condition for the region, rather than trying to undertake assessments of impact from any number of specific sources. This change is seen as a more reliable and accurate measure of the condition of the habitats throughout our nearshore waters.
The cards will also highlight the major pollution sources that may be affecting the condition of the waters and some of the management actions that are currently underway to help stop further damage. This approach will allow more targeted management to address the pressures that may be affecting the condition of the nearshore environments.
To complement the report cards, detailed scientific reports for each region will be published to show in-depth results, graphs, comparisons and discussions about specific observations at a more local scale. The report cards have links to the data and a two-minute underwater video of the sites, allowing users to see first-hand the condition of their favourite locations.
Wingfield audits underway
Following on from a recent fire at the Wingfield Waste and Recycling Precinct, the EPA with the MFS has commenced a joint audit of EPA Licensed sites in this precinct.
The audit will focus on a number of compliance and safety issues including compliance with licence conditions in relation to the receipt, storage and disposal of waste, the nature, quantity and combustibility of stockpiled materials, the risk posed by the size, location and management of stockpiles and the fire mitigation processes each site have in place.
The audit will also cover emergency services access to sites, availability of water to each site and the action required for licensees to meet their General Environmental Duty and minimise the potential for environmental nuisance to occur as a result of fire.
The audits are projected to be completed by 22 November and the reports and outcomes shared with the site operators for implementation.
Since the release of the Adelaide Coastal Water Quality Improvement Plan (ACWQIP) and the nearshore marine Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Reports (AECRs), the EPA has been focusing on engaging key stakeholders and coastal communities to discuss coast and marine water quality issues and management strategies.
This year’s SA Coastal Conference, held in North Haven on 30 September–2 October, was co-hosted by the Centre for Coastal Research, University of Adelaide and the Australian Coastal Society (SA Branch), with the EPA as a silver sponsor of the event. The Water Quality team presented at the conference on water quality projects and provided site talks about water quality issues on a coastal field trip along Adelaide’s coastline from Port Noarlunga to North Haven.
Principal Scientific Officer Marine Sam Gaylard, Scientific Officer Marine Warwick Noble and Senior Environment Protection Officer Linda-Marie McDowell represented the EPA at the Australian and Marine Science Association (AMSA) symposium held on 15 October at the Flinders University campus in Victoria Square. Linda-Marie gave a comprehensive presentation on the ACWQIP with linkages to the relevant AECRs and State of Environment Report.
Our Water Quality team will continue to engage with people working on coast and marine issues across universities, state and local government, business and industry groups and coastal communities to address water quality issues and trends.
Operation Playford targets illegal dumping
Operation Playford, conducted by the EPA Illegal Dumping Unit (IDU) throughout October, recently targeted seven sites on the Northern Adelaide Plains that had been identified as potential illegal dumping sites.
These sites were identified using the latest imagery and high-tech equipment now used by the EPA to monitor illegal dumping activity.
During Operation Playford, these sites were inspected over two days by the IDU Investigations and Waste Levy staff with two of the sites identified as potential commercial operations.
The Operation has helped raised awareness within the local community about the dangers of receiving ‘waste fill’ on their properties. The IDU Investigators will continue to monitor properties in the Northern Adelaide Plains and other areas around Adelaide for illegal dumping activities.
Talking robust regulation with industry
The Australian Industry Group (AiGroup), a peak industry association in Australia, recently held a workshop with EPA’s Chief Executive Dr Campbell Gemmell presenting to a group of industry representatives on the EPA’s role and regulatory approach, complexities involved in robust regulation, as well as harms issues and working with industry.
Dr Gemmell also met with members from the AiGroup to discuss an overview of the EPA’s current position, our vision for the future, and touched on issues impacting on industry and the regulator. Another meeting then followed where 10 Chief Executives of major companies attended and were provided information on the EPA’s regulatory role and areas where it has been identified that industry and the EPA need to work closer together to achieve mutual goals.
It is planned that further sessions will take place in the near future, as well as a specific project on developing a best practice guidance for the re-use of foundry sands, a problematic waste for the foundry industry.
Asbestos Awareness Week 25-29 November
The EPA has been working with SafeWork SA at a number of events throughout the year to help raise awareness about asbestos in the home. Both organisations are committed to helping prevent exposure to asbestos fibres and therefore decreasing disease and death.
Across Australia each year, about 600 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer. While this number is declining, the only way to prevent more illness and death is to make sure that every worker and home renovator is aware of the health risks associated with exposure to asbestos and knows how to prevent that exposure.
Asbestos was widely used in Australia for so much of the 1900s that it is present in many of our homes, offices, schools and public buildings.
During Asbestos Awareness Week, 25-29 November, our efforts will include educating young workers, apprentices in particular, on the risks of encountering asbestos as well as warning home renovators about where and how they may find asbestos and what to do about it.
Commemorative services will be held on Asbestos Victims Memorial Day, 29 November, where members of the public are invited to remember family, friends and colleagues lost to asbestos-related disease. Learn more at www.safework.sa.gov.au.
Le Fevre 2 Air Quality Monitoring Site launch
The EPA has expanded its air quality monitoring network with the opening of a second site on the Le Fevre Peninsula.
Overall, the air quality in Adelaide is relatively good compared with other states, in part because of our smaller population, and also because weather conditions help to clear pollutants out away from the city, but monitoring, reporting and managing air quality remains a key part of EPA focus.
The EPA has expanded its air quality monitoring network with the opening of a second site on the Le Fevre Peninsula on 27 September 2013 within the grounds of North Haven Primary School.
This monitoring station is an important part of the EPA’s plan to expand its existing air monitoring network, and has been established to improve and increase air quality monitoring for the Adelaide metropolitan area.
Le Fevre Peninsula has been identified by the state government in its 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide as an area for future growth. With the existing mix of industry and residential land uses, along with plans for further growth, there is a commitment by the EPA to better understand air quality in this area and deliver management inputs where necessary and appropriate.
Placing the second monitoring station at the North Haven Primary School in the heart of the Peninsula will strengthen the EPA’s ability to identify major pollution sources affecting the community in the vicinity. The site was chosen as it has a large secure and open area suitable for monitoring to take place, as well as the necessary space to house the monitoring station.
In June 2005, the EPA established the first air quality monitoring site at the further end of the Le Fevre Peninsula, at Birkenhead, which continuously monitors fine particles. The new station monitors a wider range of pollutants and is only the second station in Adelaide to monitor fine particles (2.5 µm or PM2.5), including several gases measured under the National Environment Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measure.
EPA Chief Executive Dr Campbell Gemmell joined North Haven Primary School Principal Ms Robyn Ravalico, along with a number of government, industry and community representatives, at the launch and discussed with students the importance of air monitoring in South Australia.
Data from all EPA air monitoring stations is updated every hour and available via the EPA website.
@SA_EPA joins the Twitter conversation!
As part of the EPA's commitment to better engage with communities, we have now entered the social media space, starting with a Twitter account @SA_EPA.
This will provide the EPA with access to a broader audience, enable the organisation to distribute information about key initiatives and activities to the online community, and help stakeholders find existing resources on the EPA website.
A social media disclaimer is displayed on the @SA_EPA account, as well as a link to the full version on the website to help guide users in using the account. It identifies what is appropriate and inappropriate to publish.
The EPA monitors content posted on its social media platforms and is able to respond to comments during standard business hours of 9 am–5 pm, Monday to Friday.
Reducing red tape for the tuna industry
Regulation of the southern bluefin tuna industry is being streamlined under the Change@SA 90 day project 'Reducing red tape for the tuna industry' government initiative.
Work is now underway to facilitate this process, including the review of environmental monitoring programs and chemical assessment processes.
The Change@SA 90 day project was initiated in response to a number of concerns presented by Australian Southern Bluefin Tuna Industry Association (ASBTIA) related to the current regulatory processes for the tuna industry. ASBTIA indicated these concerns resulted in substantial costs and unacceptable time delays in administration of tuna licences by the Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) and EPA.
Through this project, the process of issuing of licences will be refined and shortened.
The aim is to provide the tuna fisherman adequate time to prepare their catch for market, and it will also ensure that the coastal waters surrounding Port Lincoln are managed in an ecologically sustainable way.
Stage 1 of the project was complete in June 2013 which identified reforms of implementing immediate process changes, as well as identifying longer-term regulatory reforms for further investigation by PIRSA and EPA.
This project is aligned to the strategic priority Premium Food and Wine from our Clean Environment, and entails collaboration between PIRSA, EPA and the peak tuna industry body.
New focus on increasing regional presence
On 24–25 September 2013, the EPA visited Clare as part of our commitment to enhancing stakeholder engagement and increasing our presence in regional communities.
Three EPA Officers met with local and state government representatives and licensees to listen to their concerns and discuss local environmental issues.
During the two-day visit, the EPA team visited regional licensed sites and the local offices of Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), Regional Development Australia, Northern and Yorke Natural Resources Management Board and South Australia Police (SAPOL). They also met with staff from the Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy (DMITRE) in Jamestown to discuss the regulation of local mines and sharing information and systems to help streamline processes for mine operators.
Feedback from the Clare community has been generally positive, with many expressing gratitude for the opportunity to meet face to face with EPA staff and express their concerns. The EPA will continue to visit regional communities and improve the regional delivery approach across the state in future months.
Reforms to licensing of desalination
Operators of desalination plants, a range of industry associations and other stakeholders have been informed that significant reforms to licensing requirements regarding desalination under the Environment Protection Act 1993 will commence on 30 November 2013.
Under these reforms, desalination will become a specific prescribed activity subject to licensing. It will apply to plants with a water production capacity of greater than 200 kilolitres (kL) per day, with licensing requirements being extended to include desalination plants that discharge waste to land, plants discharging waste that do not contain chemical additives, and networks of small plants which desalinate water underground that are within a one square kilometre area.
The new licence fee structure is based on the principles of ‘user pays’ and ‘polluter pays’ as applies to all existing licensed activities under the Act. It is based on the waste discharge volumes and provides greater incentive for improved environmental performance through fee reductions.
As a consequence of these reforms, desalination has also been listed in Schedule 22 – Activities of Major Environmental Significance under the Development Regulations 2008. This means that all proposed developments of desalination plants requiring a licence under the Environment Protection Act 1993 will be referred to the EPA for assessment.
The reforms follow an extensive consultation process during 2012.
Any operators of desalination plants that are currently not licensed by the EPA, but will be required to obtain a licence under the new regulatory arrangements, must apply to the EPA for a licence prior to undertaking this activity. Application forms for a new licence are provided on the website.
OUT NOW: 2013 State of the Environment Report
The EPA has released the 2013 South Australia State of the Environment Report.
It provides a comprehensive audit and assessment of the state’s environmental resources, and the major environmental issues and trends. Published every five years, this is the sixth State of the Environment Report for South Australia and provides evidence that environmental sustainability must remain at the forefront of government, business, council and community decision-making to ensure the long-term prosperity of the state.
The EPA’s Presiding Member Mia Handshin and Chief Executive Dr Campbell Gemmell, presented the 2013 report to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, the Hon. Ian Hunter MLC for the Government.
Dr Gemmell said the 2013 Report draws together data and information from numerous and diverse sources, to provide an independent, objective and consolidated assessment of environmental trends and issues. It provides clarity about what South Australia’s environmental risks and pressures are and sets out what is being done to protect the environment.
“It should come as no surprise that there are growing pressures as our population continues to grow and production increases. But importantly, we have identified the major issues and how, as partners, all levels of government and communities can set about addressing them for a sustainable future” he said.
Presenting details of the report to a gathering of interested stakeholders, Dr Gemmell said the State of the Environment Report reminds us that our quality of life, our economic success, and our social fabric are underpinned by the quality of our environment.
“This report can – and should – be used to inform planning, investment decisions, policy development and management actions. We need to ensure that it’s a useful, living document that drives and influences decision-making across all sectors – government, private enterprise and the wider community … and that it actually means something for the future of our State.”
The 2013 State of the Environment Report features a new reporting framework and chapter format, covering people and places, climate change, water, biodiversity, and the coastal and marine environment. Each chapter also has a new report card summary that provides a quick overview of the main trends.
Overall, the report reveals mixed results in the condition of the state’s natural assets and trends in environmental quality that have occurred over the last five years. There is good news – such as sustained growth in the generation of renewable energy, more efficient use of water and electricity, and continued increases in recycling. And we are tackling our industrial legacy of contaminated soils and groundwater systems. There are also causes for concern – including increased use of natural resources, increased development and industrial activity in sensitive areas such as the coastal zone, increased use of private motor vehicles, and changes in the acidity, salinity and temperature of the marine environment.
The SOE report is now available online.
Radiation Bill public consultation
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has undertaken a review of the Radiation Protection and Control Act 1982.
Proposed amendments to the Act have now been drafted and the Radiation Protection and Control Bill 2013 will be available for public consultation from 1 October to 30 November 2013.
The Act regulates activities involving radiation sources and provides for the protection of people and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation. The Bill seeks to remake the Act to update the standard administrative and enforcement provisions which have not been reviewed since the Act’s commencement in 1982.
In addition, national commitments have been made via the Australian Health Ministers’ Conference and the Council of Australian Governments to implement a uniform national framework for radiation protection. The main national initiatives that require implementation under the Act are the National Directory for Radiation Protection and the national Code of Practice for Security of Radioactive Sources. The Bill seeks to implement these initiatives.
Submissions on the Bill will be accepted until 30 November 2013. The Bill and accompanying explanatory report can be accessed via the website.
A public information session will be held on Wednesday 6 November at 6pm at the Grand Chancellor Hotel on Hindley Street, Adelaide. If you wish to attend, please RSVP to Michelle Marron on 8204 2006 or email. Individual meetings can also be arranged upon request.
For further information, please contact Acting Manager Radiation Branch Tony Hooker or call 8463 7818.
New landfill bans and recycling options
The Environment Protection (Waste to Resources) Policy 2010 has progressively banned various wastes from direct disposal to landfill to ensure a better system of recovery, reuse and recycling. Fines of up to $30,000 can be applied for breaches of bans.
As Australians increase their reliance on technology, disposing of unwanted electronic products (e-waste) in an environmentally responsible way is becoming an increasingly important issue.
E-waste contains hazardous materials including heavy metals and glass which, if broken or damaged, pose an unacceptable environmental hazard. Around 90% of what is used to make televisions and computers can be recycled, saving valuable, finite resources. Other e-waste can also be readily recycled.
From 1 September 2013, landfill bans for electronic wastes have expanded so that whitegoods, televisions, computers, fluorescent lighting and other e-waste (eg vacuum cleaners, hairdryers and electric drills) from across the State are now banned from direct disposal to landfill.
Householders can recycle televisions, computers and computer peripherals for free at a range of sites across South Australia, as well as at special drop-off events throughout the year. For details of the sites and other e-waste recycling options visit Zero Waste SA or contact your local council. The television and computer industry funds the recycling of materials from these sites under a national recycling scheme.
Householders can also recycle fluorescent lighting for free by simply visiting any Banner Hardware, Mitre 10 or True Value hardware store. Selected lighting stores and councils will also recycle your old globes for free.
Scrap metal merchants will collect or accept whitegoods for recycling for free in many areas (nominated by your council). Contact your council or visit Zero Waste SA's Recycle Right to see local recycling options.
Other e-waste is accepted for recycling by many commercial or local transfer stations and recyclers, including sites that offer free TV and computer recycling. These facilities may take these items for free or a fee. See Zero Waste SA's Recycle Right for your local e-waste recycling options.
Funding approved for ACWQIP implementation
The funding is provided over 5 years towards the ‘Catchment to coast focus for water quality improvement across urban Adelaide’ project. This project will involve community engagement across the Adelaide region in partnership with key stakeholders including the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges NRM Board and local governments.
The local councils which will be involved in the project in the first 2 years include the City of Unley, City of West Torrens, the Adelaide City Council and City of Onkaparinga. Further local councils will have an opportunity to be involved in the final three years of the project.
Building community capacity for water quality improvement is identified in the ACWQIP and will be the main strategy area for this project. Some of the project activities include signage at specific sites, working with the Marine Discovery Centre on catchment to coast education, implementing the RainGarden 500 program for the Adelaide region, and some monitoring to inform managers of stormwater on how to best reduce sediment, coloured dissolved organic matter and nutrient loads.
If you would like to know more about ACWQIP and this project, please visit our website.
Illegal Dumping Unit cracking down on landowners
Landowners and the community are being reminded they are responsible for property clean up costs of illegally dumped waste, potentially costing many thousands of dollars.
The EPA is not responsible for cleaning up sites where illegal dumping has occurred. Where an offender is not identified, the landowner must cover the costs.
Accepting waste material illegally poses risks of contamination to the property, endangers the environment and public, and has the potential to seriously reduce property values and saleability.
A number of rural sites are under surveillance by the Illegal Dumping Unit (IDU) because those sites are known hot spots for companies looking to dump their waste for free. The use of high-technology surveillance equipment helps identify illegal sites and records the movements of operators who are illegally dumping waste.
The unit has recently had great success identifying a landowner who faces a six-figure clean up bill after about 7,500 tonnes of industrial waste was illegally dumped on his property.
Apart from paying full clean-up costs and having profits from illegal activities confiscated, there are significant penalties for those caught illegally dumping waste. For individuals, penalties can be as high as $500,000 or 4 years imprisonment. For a corporate body the penalty can be as high as $2 million.
If you have any information on illegal waste activities, please contact the EPA’s Pollution and Illegal Dumping Hotline on 8204 2004 or 1800 623 445.
Online waste tracking to commence June 2014
The EPA will be introducing online waste tracking in South Australia commencing June 2014.
The new system is set to replace the current paper-based system and will improve the tracking of waste within SA.
Much work has been done to tailor and test SA's version of the NSW EPA system to ensure it meets SA industry's needs and delivers a quality service.
EPA officers have already met with various stakeholders, focussing initially on the more frequent users of waste tracking. The feedback received has been extremely useful and positive. Industry visits will continue as the project progresses.
Meanwhile, online user manuals are being compiled and licence conditions amended to enable use of the new system. Stakeholders will receive updates and information via email as it becomes available on the EPA website.
Adelaide Coastal Water Quality Improvement Plan (ACWQIP) released
The EPA has released the Adelaide Coastal Water Quality Improvement Plan (ACWQIP), a culmination of more than five years’ work and consultation with key stakeholders and the community for the improvement of water quality along Adelaide's coastline.
The development of the ACWQIP has built upon the findings and 14 recommendations of the Adelaide Coastal Waters Study (ACWS). The ACWS was a scientific program undertaken through CSIRO to understand how to respond to extensive loss of seagrass, poor water quality and sediment instability along Adelaide’s coastline.
The study found that high loads of nutrients and sediments in discharges from industry, wastewater treatment plants and stormwater, were contributing to the poor water quality experienced along the Adelaide coastline and loss of seagrass.
The community-agreed vision in the ACWQIP is ‘Healthy aquatic ecosystems where environmental, social and economic values are considered in equal and high regard in a balanced management approach that aims to see the return of the blue-line of seagrass closer to shore by 2050’.
The ACWQIP includes eight strategies for implementation over the medium to longer term to achieve the community agreed vision, environmental values and water quality objectives.
The development of the ACWQIP has involved a high level of community and stakeholder input and places a strong emphasis on integrated action and partnerships across government, industry and community. The alignment of the eight strategies to other work being done by partner agencies has been achieved through considerable consultation over the development of the plan.
The EPA will be collaborating with other agencies and local government to ensure implementation of water sensitive urban design (WSUD) and sediment management across the Adelaide region.
Farewell to Long-term Board Member Stephen Hains
Mr Stephen Hains retired from the EPA Board on 3 August 2013, after almost 11 years’ service.
Stephen was first appointed to the Board in April 2003 and was made Deputy Presiding Member on renewal of his appointment on 20 October 2005.
In May 2011, he retired as City Manager of the City of Salisbury having held this position for 20 years. He has represented the EPA Board as a member of the Zero Waste SA Board, Chair of the EPA/Local Government High Level Group, Chair of the Planning Review Committee and Chair of the Audit and Risk Management Committee.
Stephen has worked tirelessly on building relationships with local government for many years and has played a pivotal role in strengthening communications and engagement between the EPA and local government.
The EPA would like to recognise and thank Stephen for his considerable contributions and service to the Board, and we wish him every success with his future endeavours.
EPA welcomes new Board members
On 8 August 2013, His Excellency, the Governor in Executive Council, appointed Mr Mark Withers and Dr Helen Macdonald as members of the Board of the Environment Protection Authority.
Mark is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the City of Charles Sturt. He has 29 years’ local government experience across eight different South Australian metropolitan councils. Mark has senior executive experience in the development of environmental sustainability strategies for councils, management experience in overseeing environment protection legislation and senior management oversight of waste services. With substantial experience as a participant on boards and committees, he is currently a member of the Board of Zero Waste SA. He has been appointed to the EPA Board for three years for his ‘practical knowledge of and experience in local government’ and the reduction, re-use, recycling and management of waste for the environmental management industry.
Helen is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Naracoorte Lucindale Council. She was the General Manager, Environment and Social Responsibility, for a project site in Ghana, where she directed and supervised the implementation of an environmental and social responsibility study program and a land access and resettlement program. She has management experience in sustainable development, environment, community relations and development, land access and resettlement, closure and reclamation, local and regional government relations, and communication and media relations. She has been appointed to the Board for three years for her ‘practical knowledge of and experience in local government’.
Round-table Conference 2013 report now available
The EPA Round-table Conference 2013, held on 24 May, was attended by 43 stakeholders representing industry, environment and business groups.
The conference focussed on the environmental pressures identified in the 2012–15 EPA Strategic Plan, as well as strategic goals and priorities regarding engagement with stakeholders.
Many valid and interesting points were raised by attendees during the Round-table; key outcomes included:
- Positive feedback that the EPA takes a proportionate, risk-based approach to regulation, and has recognised credibility and accountability, as well as good science-based expertise.
- The EPA engages and builds relationships constructively and is doing well by increasing availability of information to the community.
- Attendees recommended a more holistic and proactive approach to EPA business and to undertake outcome-focussed regulatory work.
- EPA to increase its understanding of economic impacts and business needs.
- Improving consistency from the EPA, and that roles and responsibilities across government needed to be clarified.
- Regional presence was acknowledged as an area where the EPA does well but that further work could be done on EPA’s presence in local and rural areas.
- The EPA and industry would both benefit from working together on specific issues, as well as opening avenues for information sharing.
EPA Presiding Member Mia Handshin launched the EPA’s Communication and Engagement Framework 2013–15 at the event which outlines the important role communications and engagement play in supporting the delivery of strategic priorities.
The Round-table summary report has been distributed to all who were invited and is also published on the EPA website.
Mount Gambier regional visit
EPA Chief Executive Dr Campbell Gemmell and Executive Director Operations Andrew Wood travelled to Mount Gambier on 3–5 July, to visit the EPA's South East office and to meet with various licensees and stakeholders.
During the trip they toured the Mondeléz (formerly Kraft) Cheese facility, Carter Holt Harvey timber mill and McDonnell Timber Processing Mill, and met with Kimberley–Clark Australia at its Millicent mill to discuss its 50-year indenture which is due to finish in October 2014.
They also had the opportunity to catch up with staff from SA Water, Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Zero Waste SA, Department of Primary Industries and Regions SA and the Chair of the local NRM Board Mr Frank Brennan. They discussed regional environmental issues and how agencies interact with each other and EPA licensees in the area.
To enhance regional relationships and stakeholder engagement, the EPA hosted an informal reception with mayors, chief executives and senior staff from the City of Mount Gambier, District Council of Grant and Wattle Range Council.
To conclude the trip, they met with Naracoorte Council Chief Executive Helen Macdonald to discuss issues in the area before visiting council’s newly upgraded transfer station and saleyard.
Raising asbestos awareness
To help raise awareness, the EPA and SafeWorkSA are working with Master Builders SA on a joint initiative to educate the public about safety measures to take when handling asbestos and the importance of engaging a licensed removalist who will dispose of the waste legally.
The first venture of this initiative was the production of a short televised episode for Channel 9’s Building Ideas about asbestos and home renovators. The episode discussed illegal dumping of asbestos and where to find the register of licensed asbestos removalists.
As part of this initiative, our Investigations and Illegal Dumping Team represented the EPA at the 'Asbestos awareness in the home' stand, with SafeWork SA, at the MBA Building and Home Improvement Show held at the Adelaide Showgrounds on 19–21 July.
The show was attended by 15,000 people and provided an ideal forum to discuss safe handling and transportation of asbestos, and the dangers involved in the dumping of this hazardous material.
EPA Compliance Plan 2013-14
The EPA has released its inaugural Annual Compliance Plan 2013–14 which sets out the EPA’s regulatory approach and priorities for the next financial year.
South Australia is faced with some particular environmental challenges that the EPA will seek to focus resource on in 2013–14. These include major point sources of pollution and waste, legacy issues such as site and groundwater contamination and the interface of industry with residential dwellings. The EPA will also focus on the challenges of increasing urban and infrastructure development, inappropriate and illegal management of waste and the continuing expansion of mining.
The EPA’s strategic and operational compliance activities set out in this Plan will be a key contributor to addressing these challenges. Each activity has clear targets against which the EPA will measure its performance.
The Plan also outlines the principles that will guide the EPA through its compliance and enforcement approach, an approach that is proportional, transparent, targeted and timely. Achievements over the past year (2012–13) are also outlined.
Changes to the Civil Penalty Calculations Policy
This follows a policy review in 2012 and keystakeholder consultation on the proposed amendments undertaken in early 2013.
Section 104A of the Environment Protection Act 1993 allows the EPA to seek a civil penalty from an alleged offender in respect of certain alleged contraventions of the Act, as an alternative to criminal prosecution. The calculations policy provides a structure for calculating monetary penalties through negotiation. The objective of the calculations policy is to provide a framework for calculating fair and consistent penalties while balancing the need for deterrence, accountability and equity. Participation in negotiation is voluntary.
The main objectives of the Civil Penalty Calculations Policy review were to investigate the consistency between negotiated penalties and court imposed criminal penalties and the adequacy of the penalties generated by the calculations policy. The main change to the policy is an increase in the foundation penalty by adding 10% to the starting penalty.
The key amendments to the policy are:
- Floor penalty introduced
- Increase of penalty
- Increase in penalty reduction for adjusting criteria
- New offences added to the policy.
The foundation penalty for category one offences (offences resulting in actual harm to theenvironment) has increased from 50% to 60% of the maximum penalty for the offence in the Act and for category two and three offences (offences resulting in potential harm or risk of harm to the environment) from 25% to 35%.
New strict liability offences have been added to the calculations policy such that a greater number of offences may be suitable for civil penalty negotiation including the offence of causing serious environmental harm (without intent or recklessness).
The EPA will continue to review the policy to ensure that it meets its objective of providing a transparent and consistent method of calculating negotiated civil penalties. The next review of the policy will commence within five years.
Find further information about the changes to the Civil Penalty Calculations Policy here or contact an EPA Information Officer.
Amendment of the National Environment Protection Measure now in effect
The EPA is now implementing the amended National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure during the nationally agreed 12-month transitional period.
The amendment took effect in each jurisdiction on 16 May 2013, the day after it was registered on the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments (FRLI).
The National Environment Protection (Assessment of Site Contamination) Measure 1999 (ASC NEPM) is the national guidance document for the assessment of site contamination in Australia. The purpose of the ASC NEPM is to establish a nationally consistent approach for the assessment of site contamination to ensure sound environmental management practices are adopted by the community, including regulators, site assessors, site contamination consultants, auditors, landowners, developers and industry parties.
The National Environment Protection Council (NEPC) agreed to vary the NEPM by approving an amending instrument on 11 April 2013. The ASC NEPM is made under the National Environment Protection Council Act 1994 and is given effect by individual legislation and guidelines in each state and territory.
During the 12-month transition period, regulators may allow work which is consistent with the original ASC NEPM guidelines, and already substantially progressed, to be finalised and submitted for auditor review. Where an auditor is not involved, based on appropriate justification, final reports can be submitted directly to the relevant jurisdiction.
A strategy for the transitional implementation of the amended ASC NEPM within South Australia has been developed by the EPA. The strategy includes the review of existing guidance and a process to have the Amended ASC NEPM made an Environment Protection Policy under the Environment Protection Act 1993 following the end of the twelve month national transition period.
The ASC NEPM Toolbox contains additional information including calculators, spreadsheets and other supporting documents to assist with application of the amended ASC NEPM.
New solid and liquid waste levies fees
As part of the 2013–14 Budget, the South Australian Government has set increases to the solid and liquid waste levies.
These will be implemented in stages to enable business to forecast costs and budget for the next four financial years.
The increase to the liquid waste levy is the first in a managed incremental increase to realign the levy value (in relative terms) with the solid waste depot levy over the short to medium term.
The exact solid and liquid waste levy amounts for 2013-14 and the approximate amounts for the following three years can be viewed here.
These increases are part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to reducing waste and encouraging reuse across the state. The waste levy is one of the tools the Government is using to support South Australia’s Strategic Plan target of a 35% reduction of waste to landfill by 2020.
South Australia’s ecosystems assessed
The third set of Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Reports (AECRs) on the health of South Australia’s inland and marine waters are now available.
The reports cover 74 locations across the State, including 65 inland creeks and nine marine areas, based on monitoring data collected between 2010 and 2012.
AECRs are released annually, based onmonitoring data collected during theprevious calendar year, and present a new approach to reporting on the condition of the South Australian environment.
This is the first release of near shore marine AECRs with inland reports being released in October 2011 and September 2012. The near shore marine AECRs are based on the same format as inland AECRs and include waters that are 2–15m water depth.
The reports use a 6-level grading system that rates each location from Excellent to Very Poor. This latest set of AECRs includes 1 Excellent, 8 Very Good, 36 Good, 23 Fair and 6 Poor.
The reports assess the condition of aquatic ecosystems including data on water quality, habitats, and plant and animal communities. They provide quick summary ecosystem information and more detailed ecological science for those interested.
The reports also outline the key pressures that are causing impacts and the management responses that are in place to address those pressures.
New EPA organisational structure
On 1 July the EPA introduced a new organisational structure.
The restructure is a central component of a broader Change Program to transform the EPA into a sharper and more effective, modern regulator. This will enable us to better meet the needs and expectations of the community, Government and the environment, in a way that is robust, durable and sustainable.
Supporting the Chief Executive, Dr Campbell Gemmell, the new structure consists of two directorates: Strategy and Business – headed by Deputy Chief Executive Tony Circelli; and Operations – headed by Executive Director Operations Andrew Wood.
As Deputy Chief Executive, Tony is responsible for Finance; Policy and Better Regulation; People, Strategy and Engagement; Knowledge, Information and Strategy; and the Office of the Executive.
The Operations Directorate sees Andrew responsible for Compliance, Regional Delivery, Operations Planning, Investigations and Tactical Response; Keith Baldry as Operations Director Mining, Radiation and Regulatory Support; and Peter Dolan as Operations Director, Science, Assessment and Planning.
The new structure will strengthen the organisation and more effectively support the delivery of our strategic outcomes through the alignment of functions. Together with the reform initiatives of the Change Program, such as improved project management, increased regional presence, organisational development, stakeholder engagement and regulatory practice, the EPA will be well placed to strengthen collaboration, partnerships and integration across the diverse range of our stakeholders.
Working together with the boating community
The EPA Water Quality team joined forces and expertise with Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources Marine Parks and Department of Primary Industries Regions South Australia Fishcare to create the Environment and Conservation exhibition.
The 2013 Adelaide Boat Show, held on 20–23 June, was the biggest in a decade featuring a diversity of latest models, products and services in the pavilions of the Wayville Showground. The EPA Water Quality team joined forces and expertise with Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources Marine Parks and Department of Primary Industries Regions South Australia Fishcare to create the Environment and Conservation exhibition.
An event highlight was the Boat Show breakfast, hosted by the Boating Industry Association of South Australia (BIASA), where Premier Jay Weatherill congratulated the state agencies, industry and community groups for successfully securing greater environmental flows for the River Murray.
EPA CE Dr Campbell Gemmell was also invited to the breakfast to present Rob Potter, former President of the River Murray Boat Owners’ Association, with the EPA Environment Award for his dedication to environmental care of the river.
The EPA stand included the annual Environment Trail which was a big success with the kids and over 300 entries vying for the prizes on offer. A special thank you to Hallett Ski Boats, Pacific Marine, Yorke Peninsula Tourism, Wallaroo North Beach Tourist Park and Yachting South Australia for their contributions to this year’s trail and to the other organisations that participated and helped make the trail both educational and fun.
Hosting her first EPA Round-table Conference, Presiding Member Mia Handshin welcomed over 50 industry, government and community stakeholders to the annual event at the Adelaide Pavilion.
Guests participated in a ‘world café’ style consultation session which generated plenty of discussion focusing on key environmental challenges outlined in the EPA Strategic Plan and the newly released Communications and Engagement Framework.
Welcoming guests to the event Mia said stakeholders’ participation at this conference is valued, ideas are considered and provide important input to the development of future directions for the EPA.
“These are important and valuable opportunities to speak directly with our stakeholders, to listen to opinions and ideas, and to hear about the ‘on the ground’ experiences of industry, local government and community in relation to environmental regulation and environment protection,” said Mia.
The Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, the Honourable Ian Hunter MLC, officially opened proceedings and took the opportunity to recognise and highlight a few of the EPA’s achievements in recent years such as the success of the Illegal Dumping Unit and the Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Reports.
EPA CE Dr Campbell Gemmell also addressed the audience and discussed the EPA’s recent Planning Review, pressures and priorities for the agency and the new annual Compliance Plan for 2013/2014.
The world café style discussion generated lively conversations about what the EPA does well and opportunities for improvement, and also looked at how the EPA can enhance its stakeholder engagement into the future.
Thank you to those of you who participated, your input is greatly appreciated and a Round-table report will be available on the website in July 2013.
Better communication and engagement
The EPA has renewed and strengthened its commitment to better communication and engagement with the release of a Communications and Engagement Framework 2013–15 at the 2013 Round-table Conference.
The Framework sets out the role that communications and engagement will play in supporting the work of the organisation in delivering against the strategic priorities of the 2012–2015 Strategic Plan. It will also guide how the EPA interacts with stakeholders, how we promote best practice communications and engagement as business-as-usual within the EPA and how we develop internal capabilities.
Three priority objectives have been identified as essential for best practice communications and engagement:
- Awareness and understanding
- Active relationships
- Organisational capability.
These objectives are aligned with each of the strategic priorities of the EPA 2012–2015 Strategic Plan, to clearly demonstrate how the associated commitments (actions and key initiatives) support and contribute to the EPA achieving its corporate strategic priorities and delivering sustainable environmental outcomes.
EPA Presiding Member Mia Handshin said strategic influence and partnerships and genuine engagement are critical pathways to achieving the EPA’s environmental goals.
“The Communications and Engagement Framework will ensure that the EPA continues to build and improve valuable relationships and links with our stakeholders and the community,” said Mia.
The Framework also responds to the Premier’s mandate for citizen centric engagement and participation in decision-making set out in the guide for engagement in the South Australian Government: Better Together: principles of community engagement and incorporates the principles of the International Association of Public Participation (IAP2) spectrum of inform, consult, involve, collaborate and empower.
Market research including the EPA Stakeholder Perceptions Survey (April 2012) and Site Contamination Communications Survey (March 2012), a Round-table communications and engagement workshop (October 2012) with representatives of key stakeholder and community groups, and EPA staff consultation has informed the development of the Framework.
Waterloo Wind Farm data now available
The first set of noise diary summaries from the Waterloo Wind Farm study is now available.
The aim of this study is to determine if there is a physical basis for the noise characteristics described by residents, hence other effects noted in the diaries have not been included in the summaries.
While it is too early to draw any conclusions, the EPA committed to regular positing of this data on the EPA website, providing access for all interested parties.
Noise diaries are being completed and returned by participating members of the community during the two month study to determine whether there is any physical basis for noisecharacteristics described by various residents in the vicinity of the Waterloo Wind Farm.
Also provided are maps showing a summary of the number of diaries returned and types of noises heard each week.
The EPA will be assessing observations against noise monitoring data, weather data and audio recordings which will now be analysed. Results will be reported later in the year.
EPA authorisation application fee
A new more equitable fee structure, based on the principles of user pays and cost recovery will be applied to applications for EPA authorisations.
The new fee structure has two distinct fee components for each new authorisation application – a lodgement fee and an assessment fee.
From 1 July 2013, new EPA authorisation applicants will be required to pay a lodgement fee of $184 (CPI increase only) and an assessment fee based on 20% of the Environment Management Fee (EMF) for each activity. The EMF component of the licence fee model reflects the regulatory effort, which is aligned to environmental risk, for managing an activity.
Applicants will be charged based on their potential risk to the environment and therefore the regulatory effort required by the EPA to assess the application. This varies across the activities in Schedule 1 of the Environment Protection Act 1993 (those activities required to be licensed).
The EPA is also introducing a reformed IT system for its licensing function which will streamline the entire licensing process and allow applicants to apply for licences and pay on line.
Clare Board meeting and stakeholder consultation
Board members and EPA Executive travelled to the region of Clare for the May board meeting and at the same time, met with Natural Resource Management (NRM) and local government stakeholders.
Board members and EPA Executive traveled to the region of Clare for the May board meeting and at the same time, met with Natural Resource Management (NRM) and local government stakeholders.
Open discussion was held to examine key issues in the area including wind farm development, waste management and landfill bans, illegal dumping and the proposed Local Nuisance Bill.
Of particular interest was a presentation by Manager South East Office Naomi Grey on options the EPA has identified to increase regional presence and valued face to face interaction with the community.
To conclude the session, Clare and Gilbert Valleys Council Mayor Allan Aughey hosted an informal afternoon tea in the council’s chambers. The EPA’s presence was well received with guests clearly enjoying the opportunity to discuss regional issues and areas of concern directly with the EPA.
Changes to the EPA Board
As their terms on the Board expired in April, Megan Dyson, Jane Yuile and Terry Groom attended their last Board meeting on 8 April.
The EPA Board members are appointed by the Governor for their practical knowledge and commitment to protecting South Australia's environment against a set of criteria and consulting relevant prescribed bodies. The Board's role is to ensure good general strategic direction, and to make and assess key decisions on significant environmental issues under the Act.
As their terms on the Board expired in April, Megan Dyson, Jane Yuile and Terry Groom attended their last Board meeting on 8 April. Megan Dyson has been an EPA Board member for 10 years, Jane Yuile for four years and Terry Groom for a year, and all three have played a key role in shaping the future direction of the EPA.
Since Megan Dyson joined the Board in April 2003, she has contributed her expertise to a number of strategic decisions including Chair of the Board’s Waste to Resources Policy Committee and Planning Review Committee. Her legal skills and experience have been invaluable over her term. She has also been an active EPA representative with external stakeholders attending round-tables, regional consultations and stakeholder meetings, and she is also a Board Member at Zero Waste SA.
Megan Dyson said she has thoroughly enjoyed her time on the EPA Board over the last 10 years.
“It’s been a very rewarding experience to have worked with an elite group of experts on a range of environmental policies and meet with a variety of industry stakeholders, government representatives and community members, to further develop and implement strategies to protect the environment for all South Australians,” said Ms Dyson.
When Jane Yuile joined the EPA Board in March 2009, she brought her specialised and highly valued management and finance expertise. She has played a significant role as Chair of the Board’s Finance Committee and was the first Chair of the Audit and Risk Management Committee. She was a member of the Board’s Funding Sustainability Committee in 2009–10 with its primary objectives of providing advice and counsel to the Board in relation to our goal to ensure a sustainable funding position for the EPA.
During his one year term, Terry Groom’s years of experience in commercial, property and industrial law, helped shape some key decisions in the development and implementation of policies and procedures.
The Board, Executive and the EPA staff, thank all three members who individually have contributed their time and expertise to the EPA Board and its key decisions on significant environmental issues in South Australia.
Waterloo wind farm monitoring underway
The EPA has commenced an independent 2-month noise and meteorological monitoring study in the region surrounding the Waterloo Wind Farm.
The project is being undertaken with the participation of volunteers from the community, and with the active support of the wind farm operators. A number of people living in the area are hosting monitoring equipment inside and outside their houses, and a number are completing noise diaries.
The aim of the study is to determine whether there is any physical basis for noise characteristics described by various residents in the vicinity of the wind farm and the conditions under which such events may occur.
At the end of the monitoring period, the EPA will analyse the data and information collected, the results will be presented to the community and a final report will be published.
The EPA would like to thank community volunteers and Energy Australia for their cooperation. For further information on the study, please visit the EPA website.
Working together to combat illegal dumping
One year on since the Illegal Dumping Unit (IDU) was launched on 30 January 2012, the EPA has increased intelligence and investigations into illegal dumping activities and offenders.
The IDU targets illegal waste activities such as illegal landfilling, dumping of hazardous wastes, commercial quantities of demolition waste, liquid waste and industrial waste, and waste businesses and transporters operating without an EPA licence.
The EPA has a dedicated team to deal with illegal dumping and has established strong links with other regulatory and enforcement agencies to share information that is supported by a sophisticated case management and intelligence database.
In its first year of operation the IDU:
- undertook 29 investigations into illegal activities − with 18 active investigations at present
- issued 21 expiation notices, 6 environment protection orders and one clean up order
- lodged 2 investigation briefs with the Crown Solicitors for adjudication on prosecution.
The main types of illegal waste detected include mixed construction and demolition, commercial and industrial, liquid waste and asbestos.
While the IDU does not deal with smaller roadside car boot dumping and dumping of domestic waste, it has been working and will continue to work with local and state government agencies to deal with this issue, by sharing intelligence and providing support and training.
NPI 2011–12 dataset released
New data on Australia’s pollution has been published on the National Pollutant Inventory (NPI) website.
The NPI is an internet-based database that provides free information to the community, government and industry on the emissions and transfers of 93 substances that have been identified as important due to their possible effect on human health and the environment.
The NPI is unique as it shows, on a geographical basis, the substances and amounts being emitted. Each year the data are reported nationally by industry to the relevant state environment department. In South Australia there is a small team of staff within the EPA dedicated to validating and auditing the NPI process and data.
Did you know?
- You can search for data by using a Search by Form
- You can view national five-year trends for individual substances. For example lead, 10 µm particulate matter (PM10), oxides of nitrogen and mercury
- This is the 14th year of NPI data.
NPI data are used across the EPA:
- As part of the licence fee structure based on the ‘user pays principle’. Licensed sites that trip thresholds for key air and water pollutants have part of their licence fee based on the pollutant load they emit.
- For the upcoming State of the Environment Report (SOE) to show emission trends of key pollutants.
- To understand key sources of pollution, in order to focus regulatory effort and policy development to environmental risk.
E-waste recycling options
As Australians increase their reliance on technology, disposing of unwanted electronic products (e-waste) in an environmentally responsible way is becoming an increasingly important issue.
Many older televisions are also being disposed following the digital switchover in Adelaide and surrounding areas on 2 April 2013.
E-waste contains hazardous materials including heavy metals and glass which, if broken or damaged, pose an unacceptable environmental hazard. Around 90% of what is used to make televisions and computers can be recycled, saving valuable, finite resources.
Since 1 September 2012, computers, televisions and fluorescent lighting from metropolitan Adelaide have been banned from being disposed of directly to landfill. From 1 September 2013, e‑waste is due to be banned from direct landfill disposal across South Australia.
Householders can recycle televisions, computers and computer peripherals for free at 15 sites across South Australia. There will be more free drop-off sites established across the state by the end of 2013, and special drop-off events throughout the year.
For details of the sites and other e-waste recycling options visit Zero Waste SA or contact your local council. The television and computer industry funds the recycling of materials from these sites under a national recycling scheme.
Householders can also recycle fluorescent lighting by simply visiting any Banner Hardware, Mitre 10 or True Value hardware store. Selected lighting stores and councils will also recycle your old globes for free. Visit Zero Waste SA to find your local store.
Any waste industry participants considering undertaking e-waste collection or recycling, note that the Environment Protection Act 1993 establishes licensing requirements for electronic waste transport, recycling and disposal. For further information, visit the EPA website.
EPA supports local government innovation
The EPA recently sponsored this year’s Local Government Association (LGA) of South Australia Showcase and General Meeting.
The EPA recently sponsored this year’s Local Government Association (LGA) of South Australia Showcase and General Meeting. Held at the Westpac Centre at West Lakes on 18 and 19 April, 200 representatives from around the state came together to share knowledge and commit to innovative solutions.
Keynote speaker His Honour Justice Bruce Lander, soon to become SA’s first Independent Commissioner Against Corruption in September, provided an overview of the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act 2012 and the role the Office for Public Integrity will play in enforcing the Act. The meeting heard a clear message from the commissioner who told delegates corruption undermines public confidence in public institutions.
Throughout the first day, 24 council case studies were presented on topics including smart procurement, drought and flood preparations and responses, active ageing, public health planning, governance and financial controls, partnerships, climate change, coastal management and library systems.
Along with a number of councils and sponsors, EPA staff were on-hand at the ‘Working Together’ booth, to answer questions about the proposed Local Environmental Nuisance Bill and combating Illegal dumping activities in the community. It was a good opportunity to network across local government and engage with elected members.
The EPA will continue to work with local government to improve environmental outcomes for local communities.
New Executive Director Operations appointed
Chief Executive Dr Campbell Gemmell welcomed the appointment of the new Executive Director Operations Andrew Wood.
Mr Wood is currently the Deputy Director of Operations for the England and Wales Environment Agency, where he leads the Agency’s National Operational teams and is responsible for 1,800 full-time staff. He has worked for the Environment Agency for more than 17 years and prior to that was the Head of Fisheries for the National Rivers Authority in England.
He holds a BSc in Zoology and an MSc in Applied Fish Biology, and is widely experienced in delivering change both locally and nationally. He has a proven track record of building high performing teams by inspiring, motivating and developing people.
Dr Gemmell has expressed confidence in Mr Wood's skills and experience, particularly on an international level. He will complement the already highly experienced EPA Executive team and contribute to the considerable work already undertaken in the past 12 months in transforming the EPA into a leading edge regulator.
He shares a passion and enthusiasm for the environment and managing the interface between the environment, communities and industry. He has a strong focus on improved customer service and promoting a ‘one team’ culture to create a more flexible, dynamic and fulfilled workforce.
Dr Gemmell, Executive and the EPA staff, look forward to working with Mr Wood when he commences in the role on 15 April 2013.
EPA’s role in the South Australian planning system
The EPA aims to build more influential relationships with planning authorities and planners, in response to the recent Planning Review Committee (PRC) recommendations from the review of the EPA’s involvement in the South Australian planning system.
The EPA will focus its resources and efforts more strongly on early engagement at the strategic planning and policy development stages and will be developing policy statements that articulate its position on key environmental issues.
In August 2011, the EPA Board formed the PRC to ensure it exercises appropriate influence over the decisions that are being made within the system. This review also examined whether the EPA is operating in an effective and efficient manner.
The PRC has chaired by the Board Deputy Presiding Member Stephen Hains, and represented by fellow Board Members Megan Dyson and Rob Fowler, Chief Executive Dr Campbell Gemmell, Director Planning, Strategy and Policy Dr Donna Ferretti (Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure) and Director Science and Assessment Peter Dolan. The committee provided a report on the current and future development planning approach to the Board in December 2012.
The PRC examined how the EPA undertakes its work in the planning system, specifically examining strategic planning, planning policy, development applications, and major developments or projects.
The PRC concluded the EPA’s development assessment advice performance was exemplary, meeting referral deadlines 98% of the time. However, it recognised that there are ways the EPA can increase influence through being more proactive at the planning and policy level. The report included 19 recommendations, most of them centring on one overarching conclusion—greater emphasis on strategy and policy planning, and streamlining and simplifying the EPA’s responses to development applications.
As a result of this review, the EPA’s involvement and approach in the planning system will change over the next year or so. The report including all 19 recommendations is now available on the EPA website.
EPA hosts the Governor’s Leadership Foundation
EPA Presiding Board Member Ms Mia Handshin hosted the Leaders Institute of South Australia Governor’s Leadership Foundation (GLF) seminar at the EPA on 5 March 2013, with the first topic of the 10-month program focusing on climate change leadership.
The full-day session consisted of two panel discussions. The first panel was made up of University of Adelaide Environment Institute Manager Simon Divecha, World Vision Australia Senior Economist Dr David Lansley, Department of Primary Industries and Resources of South Australia (PIRSA) former Deputy Chief Executive Dr Don Plowman, and EPA Chief Executive Dr Campbell Gemmell, who presented an overview of the impacts of climate change. Emeritus Professor Ian Plimer from the University of Melbourne also gave a presentation.
The second panel discussion involved EcoProTem Director Faith Cook, RenewablesSA, Department of Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy (DMITRE) Industry Development Manager Catherine Way, ThinkClimate Consulting Director Ben Heard, and Mayor of Onkaparinga council Lorraine Rosenberg, with a focus on responding to climate change with carbon markets and voluntary action.
The GLF program is for people who have the potential to become leaders in the South Australian community. Each representative during the seminar provided some interesting insight about climate change and what it means for South Australia’s future.
Federal Court rules against NT Container Deposit Scheme
On 4 March 2013, the Federal Court ruled in favour of Coca-Cola, Lion and Schweppes that the Northern Territory’s container deposit scheme was invalid and in breach of the Mutual Recognition Act, 1992 (MR Act).
The MR Act has the stated purpose of 'promoting the goal of freedom of movement of goods and service providers in a national market in Australia'. The MR Act essentially enables free trade between the states. If a product is to be sold legally in one state or jurisdiction, then it can also be sold in another without further restrictions. NT’s container deposit scheme requires beverage companies to have products approved and labelled appropriately before being distributed or sold in the Territory.
When the NT scheme commenced in January 2012, it was granted a 12-month temporary exemption from the MR Act. The temporary exemption expired before a permanent one was put in place.
The NT government is seeking the required permanent exemption and is loading an appeal on the judgement.
This decision does not affect SA’s Container Deposit Legislation (CDL) because the EPA has a permanent exemption from the MR Act, as the legislation was in place before the MR Act came into operation.
In 2011–12, more than 609 million containers, representing 47,510 tonnes, were returned for recycling and diverted from landfill in South Australia, a record high of 81.4% return rate. The most recent market research (conducted in September 2012) revealed 98% of the community supports both the CDL in South Australia and a national container deposit scheme.
Further information on the SA Container Deposit Legislation is available on the website.
Tracking and talking waste with Waste Management Association Australia
A new online waste tracking system, set to replace the current paper-based system, will improve the tracking of controlled waste within South Australia.
Members of the Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) recently attended an EPA presentation on the new system and how we will administer it to keep it easy and useful for industry.
The system is based on the version used by the NSW EPA but is being tailored to meet SA’s needs. There may be new regulations and changes in licences to streamline the administration of the system.
Advisor Reform Projects Melanie Long used this opportunity to discuss the proposed model for cost recovery of new authorisation application fees. Manager Investigations Stephen Barry also provided an update on illegal dumping investigations and achievements since the team was established one year ago.
The EPA values its relationship with the WMAA as an important industry stakeholder and its critical role in garnering views on policy and operational issues from its diverse membership base. Both organisations will continue to work closely together to achieve the best possible outcomes for waste and resource management for South Australia.
Welcome Ian Hunter as new Minister
On behalf of the EPA staff, Chief Executive Dr Campbell Gemmell extends a warm welcome and is very much looking forward to the opportunity of working with Minister Ian Hunter to progress the Government’s environmental agenda.
Welcome to the first edition of EPA Monitor for 2013!
On 21 January, His Excellency the Governor, Kevin Scarce, swore in Premier Jay Weatherill MP’s new Cabinet.
Following these Cabinet changes, the EPA welcomes our new Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation The Hon Ian Hunter MLC.
On behalf of the EPA staff, Chief Executive Dr Campbell Gemmell extends a warm welcome and is very much looking forward to the opportunity of working with Minister Ian Hunter to progress the government’s environmental agenda.
The EPA would also like to take this opportunity to farewell the Hon Paul Caica MP from the portfolio and publicly thank him for his strong support and guidance to the EPA, and wish him all the best for the future.
Real-time beach water advice
This summer, beachgoers are able to receive advice when the water quality at their local beach is not suitable for swimming.
Beaches in Adelaide are safe and healthy for 98% of the time. However, the water quality at beaches can be impacted by rainfall which flushes stormwater into the sea leaving discoloured water, especially around drains.
The Department of Health and Ageing has advised that people should not swim in discoloured or murky water and, through this program, beach users will have easy access to current information to enable them to make that decision.
Beach users can opt to receive EPA notifications via email by subscribing for updates (located at the bottom of the map) on the website.
The advice will be sent during periods of poor water quality when swimming should be avoided. When stormwater discharges have ceased, a follow-up message will indicate that it is safe to swim again.
On days where the water quality is poor, beaches on the map will be flagged in real-time at locations where stormwater is discharging and impacting on the bathing water quality. Discharging is only expected to last a few days.
The beaches being monitored are from Semaphore in the north to Noarlunga in the south.
This is a pilot program between the EPA and Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges NRM Board, and it will be expanded to include more comprehensive access for beach users to real-time information about the quality of the water at their favourite beach.
Have your say (public consultations)
The EPA is currently seeking views of the community, industry, government and interest groups for our consultations planned to be undertaken during February and March.
- Draft Environment Protection (Water Quality) Policy 2012
- Authorisation Application Fees
- Civil Penalty Calculations Policy.
Draft Environment Protection (Water Quality) Policy 2012
Consultation has commenced on the proposed revision of the Environment Protection (Water Quality) Policy 2003. It provides more specific and detailed protection of the state’s surface, marine and underground water sources.
Nine years of operation has provided considerable experience of the policy’s effectiveness and has made it clear that some central clauses in the policy need to be reviewed. The changes proposed will address water quality in a more risk based manner by applying a general environmental duty to meet national water quality guidelines, enforceable through an environment protection order.
Other changes are designed to correct anomalies, reflect current practices and make the policy easier to navigate.
All submissions will then be considered and made available for public viewing, along with the EPA responses, on the website. Consultation closes on 5 April 2013.
Authorisation Application Fees
The EPA is working towards implementing cost recovery for lodging and assessing licence and works approval applications under Environment Protection Regulations 2009 (EP Regulations).
The EP Regulations came into operation on 1 September 2009 and outline the EPA’s licence fee system. The licence fee system includes a significant component (approximately 60%) based on cost recovery of ongoing management of authorisations. However this principle is not currently extended to licence and works approval application assessment fees.
The EPA has developed a cost recovery model which proposes two distinct fee components for each new licence and works approval application; a lodgment fee and an assessment fee. The proposed assessment fee reflects the time taken by technical and administrative staff to assess the application.
For information on how the applications costs would relate to your business when applying for an EPA licence or to provide comment on the model, please refer to the document. Consultation closes on 29 March 2013.
Civil Penalty Calculations Policy
The EPA has reviewed the EPA Policy for Calculation of Civil Penalties under the Environment Protection Act 1993 and is now undertaking key stakeholder consultation on the proposed amendments to the Calculations Policy.
Section 104A of the EP Act allows the EPA to seek a civil penalty from an alleged offender in respect of certain alleged contraventions of the Act, as an alternative to criminal prosecution. The Calculations Policy provides a structure for calculating monetary penalties through negotiation and a framework for calculating fair and consistent penalties while balancing the need for deterrence, accountability and equity. Participation in negotiations is voluntary.
There are five main areas of amendments proposed:
- increasing the amount of negotiated civil penalties calculated
- the inclusion of new offences such that a greater number of offences may be suitable for civil penalty negotiation
- clarification of the process of negotiating a civil penalty and corrections
- amendment to the adjusting factors in the Calculations Policy that are used to negotiate reductions in the penalty
- the next review of the Calculations Policy.
The documents are now available and the closing date is Friday 25 March 2013.
Summary of the EPA study of wind farm infrasound levels
The EPA has recently presented the findings of a study conducted in conjunction with Resonate Acoustics on infrasound levels near wind farms and in other environments.
Measurements were undertaken over a period of approximately 1 week at 7 locations in urban areas and four locations in rural areas including two residences approximately 1.5 km away from the wind turbines.
Both indoor and outdoor testing was undertaken for infrasound and low frequency noise and this was done at locations adjacent to the windfarms. Organised shutdowns of the wind farms were arranged to determine any noticeable contribution from the wind farm to the G-weighted infrasound level measured at either house. (G-weighting refers to one of a number of different options for showing curves of noise 'volume' in dB against frequency in Hz; it is thought best to reflect human perception of infrasonic noise levels).
Overall the study indicates that measured infrasound levels at rural locations both near to and at a distance away from wind farms were no higher than infrasound levels measured at urban locations.
The study also showed that both indoor and outdoor infrasound levels were well below the perception threshold and that the most obvious difference between urban and rural locations was that human activity and traffic appeared to be the primary source of infrasound in urban locations, while localised wind conditions are the primary source of infrasound in rural locations.
Further testing is to be undertaken by the EPA at 4 locations near the Waterloo wind farm in the Clare Valley from April to May which will provide longer-term data that, along with this current study, will assist the EPA in better understanding the nature of any impacts on the community and whether existing guidelines need to be reviewed.
The report of the study and more information on the EPA’s position on windfarm issues is available on the website.
Industry consultation on draft National Code of Practice for Chemicals of Security Concern
The Australian Government and state and territory governments are seeking feedback to help shape the draft National Code of Practice for Chemicals of Security Concern which is being developed to help keep Australia safe from terrorism.
A consultation session on the draft code for industry members has been organised in Adelaide on 20 February 2013. The session is designed to explain how the draft code works and to provide an opportunity to tell the code developers—face to face—how the draft can be improved. Businesses that manage or handle one or more chemicals of security concern are encouraged to attend.
Date and time: Wednesday 20 February 2013, 10 am–12 pm.
Venue: State Administration Centre, 200 Victoria Square, Adelaide (register with the security desk on the ground floor for directions to the meeting location).
To attend please RSVP by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. To download the draft code of practice and to find out how to make a submission, visit the Chemical Security website. The consultation closes on 1 March 2013.
Following a 6-week consultation period in late 2012, the EPA has published the Compost Guideline. The Guideline, along with the Summary of Submissions is now available.
Composting is a recognised process of converting suitable source-segregated waste into viable products for application to land. Composting supports South Australia’s Strategic Plan target of reducing waste to landfill by 35% by 2020. In particular, it complements South Australia’s Waste Strategy 2011–2015, including promotion of resource recovery and the diversion of waste from landfill and the requirements of the Environment Protection (Waste to Resources) Policy 2010 which requires specific waste streams from metropolitan Adelaide to be subject to resource recovery from 1 September 2012.
Industry has been seeking clear guidance on the design specification for composting facilities, types of waste, chemical composition, and pre- and post-composting processes for acceptance of waste at composting facilities.
The EPA will continue to work with licensees over the next 12 months where there is an identified need to improve site infrastructure consistent with the expectations of the Compost guideline.
River vessel compliance improving
The EPA’s latest quarterly audit of River Murray vessels found a big improvement in compliance with 15 out of 100 audited vessels having no or inadequate greywater recycling systems in place.
The audit was conducted to check compliance by inspecting tanks, deflector plates, pump-out heights, insect screens, hatches and buoyancy with the EPA’s Code of Practice for vessel and facility management(marine and inland waters).
The code of practice applies to people, organisations and agencies that own, operate and use vessels, vessel construction and maintenance facilities (including slipways and launch facilities), and vessel storage facilities (including dry dock boat yards, marinas, moorings, boat and yacht clubs) within or adjacent to the state waters of South Australia.
The visit also provided a great opportunity for the new Presiding Member of the EPA Board, Mia Handshin, to meet with industry representatives from the Boating Industry Association of SA (BIASA), Keep South Australia Beautiful (KESAB) and Greenings Landing in Mannum. They discussed the ‘no wash’ zones in the area, which requires operators of certain vessels to reduce speed in order to prevent river bank erosion and minimise environmental impact.
Ms Handshin accompanied Director of Science and Assessment Peter Dolan and the Water Quality Murraylands team, to inspect vessel greywater/blackwater management systems inspections for compliance with the code.
Meet new Presiding Member of the EPA Board
The EPA welcomes Mia Handshin as the new Presiding Member of the EPA board.
The Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation the Hon Paul Caica MP, formally made the announcement in late October.
Ms Handshin currently works for the Leaders Institute of South Australia and was previously a Senior Policy Adviser to the Federal Minister for Early Childhood Education, Childcare and Youth; Minister for Sport the Hon Kate Ellis MP.
On her appointment Mia said "I'm really looking forward to working with the highly experienced, technically adept people around the EPA Board table and the staff, and to getting on with the job of meeting industry and community members in coming weeks."
Ms Handshin has extensive skills and experience in government relations, public policy, community engagement and government affairs. She brings to the role a history of advocacy in the community and a strong desire to do further work around issues of environmental protection.
A lawyer by profession, she studied international conflict resolution and interned at the International Crisis Group in Brussels. She has served on a variety of high profile boards and committees, and was a freelance writer, blogger and weekly columnist for the The Advertiser for 10 years.
Ms Handshin officially chaired her first Board meeting on 13 November, following a series of community consultation sessions on environmental issues of concern in the southern metropolitan area.
Chief Executive Dr Campbell Gemmell, Executive and staff are looking forward to working with Ms Handshin as she leads the EPA Board and contributes to South Australia’s ongoing delivery on environment protection.
New EPA vision
The 2012-15 Strategic Plan outlines the highest level commitments and strategies for the EPA.
Robust regulation, sound science and genuine engagement will be strategic priorities for the EPA in the next 3 years. The 2012-15 Strategic Plan outlines the highest level commitments and strategies for the EPA. The plan has been drafted and refined over the last nine months through feedback and discussions, including Chief Executive Dr Campbell Gemmell’s meetings with individual stakeholders, the Round-table Conference in June and the 2012 stakeholder survey.
With the vision of 'a better environment – protected for all South Australians', the plan is aligned with the SA Government’s priorities and South Australia’s Strategic Plan.
The strategies focus on robust regulation, sound science, strategic influence and partnerships, genuine engagement and being an adaptive organisation. This provides the framework for prioritisation of work programs, ongoing reform programs and ongoing implementation of the EPA’s current change program. The strategic framework also sets the foundation for tracking and reporting on organisational performance.
A key aspect in this plan is identifying the significant environmental issues that will drive and focus the core business of the EPA. These environmental pressures include major point source pollution, and waste and legacy issues such as site and groundwater contamination.
The plan also better articulates the EPA’s approach to its regulatory function (see diagram below) and in particular how its approach will be tailored in response to the actions and behaviours of regulated parties such as licensed operators under the Environment Protection Act.
For example, where operators are trying to comply, the EPA will work to educate and enable compliance, and indeed where operators are in compliance or pursuing broader sustainability outcomes, the EPA will use a collaborative and supporting approach to foster stronger compliance cultures and where possible recognise and reward better practice business behaviours. In contrast, where operators choose not to comply with their responsibilities, the EPA will adopt a swift and firm enforcement approach, using its full suite of powers as necessary.
More information about the EPA’s annual business program is provided in the 2012-13 Corporate Plan This annual plan reflects the framework of the Strategic Plan. Achievements against these actions and desired outcomes are reported to the EPA Board and will be published on the website on a regular basis.
Plans and future reports can be viewed here.
EPA Board visits the Southern Metropolitan area
Throughout the year, the EPA Board conducts various site visits and meetings with its industry, local government and community stakeholders.
These consultations assist the Board in future decision making and help to identify opportunities and areas for EPA performance improvement.
On 13 November, the Board visited the Adelaide Desalination Plant and received a very interesting presentation on the planning and operations of South Australia’s largest desalination plant. Following the presentation, the Board was taken on a guided tour. The Plant was the largest infrastructure project in SA with an estimated cost of $1.824 billion, and it will have the capacity to deliver up to 100 billion litres (100 GL) of water each year. This is 50% of Adelaide’s drinking water needs from a climate independent source.
Following the visit, the Board met with its southern metropolitan area stakeholders including licensees, local government, community groups, private sector representatives and members of the public.
Attendees discussed a number of environmental issues and areas of concern including: mining waste (particularly disposal of whole earth mover tyres); salinity of groundwater on the northern Adelaide Plains; issues arising from more dense urban development (eg noise); dredging guidelines; the waste levy; groundwater contamination; illegal dumping; soil contamination mapping; the cost to small business of hiring expensive consultants to achieve regulatory compliance; noise, dust and vibration issues from the Linwood Quarry; and alignment of strategic priorities between NRM Boards and the EPA.
The consultation proved to be extremely informative and beneficial for all concerned. All stakeholder groups had the opportunity to express the environmental challenges they face and with responses on most issues provided on the day and all unanswered enquiries have been followed up.
Obituary – Dr Gerald Laurence
Dr Gerald Laurence, a distinguished stalwart supporter and promoter of radiation protection in Australia, passed away on 6 December 2012.
It is with great sadness that the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) advises that Dr Gerald Laurence, a distinguished stalwart supporter and promoter of radiation protection in Australia, passed away on 6 December 2012.
Amongst other appointments and roles at the state and national level, Dr Laurence was the longest serving member of South Australia’s Radiation Protection Committee established under the South Australian Radiation Protection and Control Act 1982. He served as a member with expertise in the scientific uses of radiation from the Committee’s inception in 1982 until his recent passing.
Dr Laurence made a significant contribution to the work of the EPA and the Committee and helped in the development of South Australia’s radiation protection legislation, policies and procedures.
He also worked tirelessly as the Radiation Safety Officer for the University of Adelaide (from 1970) and Flinders University (from 1998), and in other avenues of radiation protection as a consultant.
In his teaching career, Dr Laurence served with distinction as a lecturer at the University of Adelaide, Department of Chemistry (1961-1996), Associate Professor Head of Department (1988-1993), and Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Chemistry and Physics, University of Adelaide (from 2004).
Dr Laurence will be truly missed by his friends at the EPA and on the Radiation Protection Committee.
Monthly air quality reports now available
The EPA has commenced publishing monthly air quality summaries from its long-term monitoring program on the website.
The monthly report includes graphs and information from its five metropolitan Adelaide sites and regional monitoring programs in Port Pirie and Whyalla. There are also links to explanatory information about various aspects of air quality in South Australia.
This is the first stage in a program to provide readily accessible information in a range of formats. This will ultimately include interactive graphical presentations for the public, and more detailed data for those who wish to delve more deeply and gain a greater scientific understanding of air quality in South Australia.
The reports can be found here.
Finding your local container refund depot
The EPA has created a useful interactive Google map to help you find the location of your nearest container refund depot.
South Australia has 124 approved collection depots, 40 in the Adelaide metropolitan region and 84 in regional South Australia. Many depots accept other recyclable materials such as non-deposit glass, scrap metal, cardboard and batteries.
The Container Deposit Scheme continues to operate successfully in South Australia with 83.9% of beverage containers captured by the scheme being returned in the first quarter of this financial year (July-September 2012).
In 2011-12, over 609 million containers, representing 47,510 tonnes, were returned for recycling and diverted from landfill resulting in a record high return of 81.4% for the full year.
Visit the website for the full list of depots.
Asbestos awareness in the home
The EPA and Safework SA have been working together to educate renovators about their responsibilities when working with asbestos and the correct way of transporting and disposing the hazardous waste.
As the holiday season approaches, enthusiastic home renovations and DIY activities increase which leads to disposing unwanted materials that may include some dangerous and hazardous waste. The EPA and Safework SA have been working together to educate renovators about their responsibilities when working with asbestos and the correct way of transporting and disposing the hazardous waste.
As part of this initiative, the Illegal Dumping Unit (IDU) recently joined with SafeWork SA and SA Asbestos Coalition to raise awareness about asbestos in the home at the annual Home and Garden Show held at the Royal Showgrounds on 19-21 October.
SafeWork SA and EPA staff were at the 3-day event, answering questions and discussing the importance of using a registered asbestos removalist, the proper precautions to take when handling and transporting asbestos, and the dangers involved when illegally dumping this material.
Some key points for home renovators to remember are:
- If requiring the services of an expert asbestos removalist, ensure you contract a SafeWork SA licensed asbestos removalist. Also ensure they are an EPA licensed asbestos transporter (or that they subcontract an EPA licensed transporter).
- If your quote includes asbestos disposal fees, double check that they will be disposed appropriately (to a facility licensed to receive asbestos) and request that disposal receipts are provided at the completion of the job.
- Home renovators need to use air monitoring equipment (supplied by registered asbestos air monitoring consultants) if working outside with other residents in close proximity.
- The home renovator needs to ensure that they comply with the Australian Standards for the removal of asbestos. Please refer to the Model Code of Practice – How to safely remove Asbestos guidelines.
If you notice any unusual activity or see someone illegally dumping waste, please call the EPA Pollution and Illegal Dumping Hotline 8204 2004 or 1800 623 445.
CE’s best wishes for the festive season!
As this is the last EPA Monitor for the year it not only provides an opportunity for me to wish you and your family a happy festive season but also to reflect on the challenges and achievements the EPA has faced in the past 12 months.
The end of January 2013 will mark one year since I arrived to take up the position of Chief Executive of the South Australian EPA. The move from the Scottish EPA was rather a milestone for me, but it was the potential and the challenge that I identified in the South Australian EPA that made the decision to take up this exciting opportunity an easy one.
My first year has certainly been interesting and busy but I do consider that we have made significant in-roads into achieving some of the priorities that I identified for the EPA through meetings and briefings with a wide range of stakeholders. I appreciate the opportunity to meet with and talk to you all – licensees, local government, agencies, the waste industry, farmers and wine producers, senior government executives, our Portfolio CEs, NRM partners, and of course our Minister, other government Ministers and the Premier.
Many of you have also played host to me as I undertook site visits – from some of our metropolitan licensees including waste operators, recycling centres, the Desalination Plant, Yalumba and GMH, to a number of regional areas, including the River Murray, Port Lincoln and Ceduna, and the South East coast on several occasions, where I met with stakeholders and local government representatives to gain a better understanding of the issues and challenges facing our regional areas. I have done a great deal of listening.
I had the privilege of presenting at several conferences during the year including the Local Government Association (LGA), Australasian Land and Groundwater Association, Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA), and ENVIRO 2012 where I not only had the opportunity of talking about my vision for the SA EPA but also to share some of my European experiences which were relevant to issues occurring here.
The EPA Board has also seen some changes with Ms Cheryl Bart AO stepping down after serving as Presiding Member for four years. As mentioned earlier in October, the EPA welcomed new Presiding Member Ms Mia Handshin who has already hosted her first stakeholder engagement session and two Board Meetings. I am very much looking forward to working with Mia over the next few years. The Board also welcomed new member Terry Groom.
Some of the key achievements throughout the year included a further waste management milestone with the commencement of new resource recovery obligations under the Environment Protection (Waste to Resources) Policy 2010 (EPP) and the implementation of new landfill bans for televisions, computers and fluorescent lighting; the launch of the Illegal Dumping Unit to help combat large scale illegal dumping of commercial waste across South Australia; the South East public consultation to establish environmental values (EVs) for Lake Bonney; the Lower Murray Reclaimed Irrigation Area (LMRIA) project between Mannum and Wellington to help address to the high acidity levels resulting from the drought; the growth of the online Public Register directory which has made it easier to search for information held by the EPA and to gain more timely access to that environmental information; and the release of the second set of Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Reports (AECRs) on the health of South Australia’s rivers and creeks.
It has been a most eventful year and on behalf of the EPA I thank you for your support. I look forward to working with you in 2013. Enjoy your break!
Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Reports released
The EPA has released the second set of Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Reports (AECRs) on the health of South Australia’s rivers and creeks.
The EPA monitors South Australian waterways to assess their condition and provide information that can be used to guide management decisions. Monitoring data are used to produce AECRs every year.
The first release of AECRs was in October 2011 and represented a significant breakthrough in environmental monitoring and reporting in this state.
This second set of AECRs covers 72 watercourse sites in the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges region based on 2011 monitoring data.
While the EPA has undertaken water quality monitoring in the past, the AECRs present a new approach to reporting on the condition of the South Australian environment. The reports assess the condition of waterways as ecosystems, including the water quality and the plants and animals that depend on it and provide a summary of information on each location; presenting the scientific findings as well as the key pressures and management responses.
The reports use a 6-level grading system that rates every site from Excellent to Very Poor. The latest set of reports feature 1 Very Good, 10 Good, 27 Fair, 24 Poor and 10 Very Poor and confirm what was expected in terms of overall trends and the impacts of land clearing and urban development.
The EPA is working with the Natural Resource Management Boards, other government agencies, industry and the community to improve the condition of our waterways and ecosystems and rectify the situation.
Trials at Mobilong to combat acidity in River Murray
The Lower Murray Reclaimed Irrigation Area (LMRIA), an important agricultural area on the historic floodplain of the River Murray between Mannum and Wellington, is currently experiencing problems with acidic drainage water.
The acidity has occurred as a result of the rewetting of acid sulfate soils which dried during unprecedented low river levels in the 2006-09 drought.
Following 16 months of monitoring, acidic (pH 2-5) drainage water is still being produced from over 3,500 ha of land in the LMRIA, and is being discharged to the River Murray as is necessary to maintain agricultural practices in the region.
Currently, monitoring within the River Murray indicates that the acid discharge is being diluted quickly within a very localised discharge zone, however there is the potential for risks to the river to increase under lower flow scenarios. Given the potential risk to the River Murray, remediation options to treat the problem are currently being scoped.
The project is being undertaken by the EPA Water Quality Branch including Emily Leyden, the recent winner of the prestigious CSIRO Jane Gillooly Memorial award, working in conjunction with the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), CSIRO and SA Water.
A trial is being conducted to examine whether the acidity within the soil profile can be neutralised by means of deep lime injection.
The Mobilong trial, at a retired irrigation site owned by SA Water, will use a modified mole plough to ‘inject’ a highly alkaline lime (CaOH2) slurry at depth of approximately 700 mm. The mole plough is a method common to the region and has the benefit of providing lime to the zone of acidity with minimum disturbance to pasture and topsoil.
While the use of limestone is a common way of treating the problem of acidity within oxidised acid sulfate soils, this particular method of deep lime injection is the first trial of its kind in Australia.
The aim of the deep lime injection is the try to neutralise the acidity and raise the pH of the soil and groundwater so that sulfate reduction, a natural process of acid sulfate soil remediation, can occur. In turn, it is hoped that less acidic drainage will be produced in the salt drains and subsequently discharged to the River Murray.
During the trial, the groundwater will be monitored intensively through a network of shallow groundwater bores to ascertain changes in groundwater quality.
State of the Environment Report 2013 focusing on climate change and population growth
The EPA is making good progress with preparing the next 5-yearly State of the Environment report for South Australia due for release by mid-2013.
State of the environment reporting is an important contribution to information on the condition of natural resources and trends in environmental quality; information essential to manage and protect the environment and its valuable contribution to the health of the economy and the community in the form of ecosystem services and other benefits.
The EPA is making good progress with preparing the next 5-yearly State of the Environment Report for South Australia due for release by mid-2013. This involves the coordination of contributions and information from a number of public authorities and the EPA is receiving welcomed cooperation and support from government departments. All information and assessments have been peer reviewed by independent experts and their input will inform the final report.
The report will identify the key drivers and pressures that impact on the environment, describe the trends in the condition of the environment as a result of the impacts, assess the responses of government agencies to those trends and impacts, and consider what the likely outlook for key environmental aspects are into the future.
The 2013 State of the Environment report is being prepared against the backdrop of global climate change and a growing population that is highly urbanised. This presents interesting reporting challenges because of complex cause-and-effect relationships, cumulative impacts and inadequate information.
A key challenge for the report is access to good quality up-to-date information. To improve this, the EPA Board has agreed to develop a plan for improving the effectiveness of state of the environment reporting into the future.
The plan will take into consideration work in progress to develop an integrated reporting framework as a priority under the State Natural Resources Management Plan, the National Plan for Environmental Information and National Environmental Accounts.
Feedback from round-table participants much appreciated
This year's Round-table conference was held on 14 June at the Adelaide Zoo and themed ‘2020 Vision for the EPA’.
The conference focused on informing the EPA’s strategic planning moving towards 2020 and beyond. There were 40 stakeholders who attended and contributed their feedback and ideas on what they thought the future South Australian environment might and should look like in years to come and the role of the EPA in that future.
The EPA Round-table conference report is now available on the website. The annual round-table provides the EPA with a valuable opportunity to gain input from our stakeholders on emerging and strategic issues facing South Australia's environment and its management.
The breakfast conference was successful in creating dynamic, interactive discussions with candid comments and feedback that were greatly appreciated by the EPA Executive and the Board members.
A follow-up session with interested participants took place on 10 October, and encouraged further interacted about EPA's communications and engagement, and provided input into the development of the EPA’s 2012-15 Communications and Engagement Strategy. Details about the outcomes of this session will be outlined in the November issue.
Web resources for councils and businesses
The EPA website has a vast range of resources and information to assist and support councils and businesses across South Australia.
The EPA works in partnership with local government to provide environment protection services to the local community and provides information to assist councils with reporting pollution, planning and development and communicating environmental information to their communities.
The EPA works with its 1,525 licensees (at 2,300 sites) in South Australia, to reduce risks to the environment. If a council officer is seeking information about an EPA licensee, the Council section on the website has detailed information about licensing including radiation and general licences, the fee system and penalties. The website has all licences available online through the recently upgraded Public Registry.
Whether you’re starting a business and want to know what your environmental obligations are, or you’re an existing business looking for information on improving the efficiency of your resources and environmental sustainability, the Businesses section contains information and links to other sections of the EPA website, and to other government websites and services.
EPA joins the South East Natural Resources Centre team
The EPA is now of part of the new Mount Gambier Natural Resources Centre providing a ‘one-stop shop’ for all environmental enquiries.
The EPA’s South East team is thrilled to be a part of the new Mount Gambier Natural Resources Centre joining the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources (DEWNR) and other government departments to provide a ‘one-stop shop’ for all environmental enquiries.
Hon Paul Caica MP, Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, officially opened the South East Natural Resources Centre (SE NRC) located in Mount Gambier last month.
The NRCs are an initiative of the Minister to enable the community easier access to a broad range of environmental and natural resource services.
The official launch was attended by the EPA’s Keith Baldry, Director Regulation and Compliance, Naomi Grey, Manager South East Branch, Carl Smith and Dean Zeven, Senior Environment Protection Officers South East Branch, Hon Paul Caica MP and his advisory staff, Tim Goodes, DEWNR Group Executive Director Strategy and Advice and Andrew Inglis , Presiding Member NRM Council.
Representatives from various landcare and wildlife support groups, community members and the media were also present at the event.
While in the South East, Keith Baldry also met with Daryl Sexton, Director of Operations at City of Mount Gambier to discuss waste management issues. Along with other EPA Staff, he visited the Van Schaik’s BioGro composting facility to gain an insight into the largest composter in SA.
Adelaide welcomes ENVIRO 2012
The ENVIRO 2012 Conference and Exhibition was held at the Adelaide Convention Centre on 24–26 July, attracting over 400 industry stakeholders, businesses and policy makers.
Held every two years, the conference is the premier national assembly of Australian environment representatives.
Host organisations Australian Water Association (AWA) and Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) partnered with the South Australian Government to bring the conference to Adelaide for the first time in its 12-year history. The EPA was a session sponsor and had an exhibition to showcase our regulatory role to a national and international audience.
Minister Paul Caica officially opened the conference and Chief Executive Dr Campbell Gemmell delivered the introductory presentation setting up the overarching theme of making the environment count for competitive advantage. Part of his presentation provided an outline of the EPA’s regulatory approach and how criminal environmental activities will be hit hard and good practice should be recognised and rewarded (refer to chart ).
Other keynote speakers included Dr Liz Goodwin, Chief Executive Officer Waste & Resources Action Programme (UK), Alison Rowe, Global Executive Director of Sustainability Fujitsu, Scott Vitters, General Manager Plantbottle Packing Platform The Coca-Cola Company and South Australia’s own Vaughan Levitzke, Chief Executive Zero Waste SA.
Deputy Chief Executive Tony Circelli gave a presentation on sustainable business; trends and opportunities which focused on trust, regulation and better outcomes. He also took part in a panel discussion on the proposal for a National Container Deposit Scheme.
Waste to Resources Tiana Nairn presented a paper on enhancing resource recovery under the Waste to Resources EPP and also presented with Simone Cunningham (Zero Waste SA) on the appropriate disposal of household medical sharps.
Overall, the ENVIRO 2012 Conference and Exhibition was a great success and enabled business and environmental leaders to gather to hear world-class speakers, gain new insights and foster friendships and collaborations.
Enhancing resource recovery with the Waste to Resource EPP
From Saturday 1 September 2012, most wastes produced in metropolitan Adelaide must not be disposed of to landfill unless they have first been subject to a resource recovery process.
For the effective administration of the new requirements under these clauses, the EPA has developed the following guidance materials:
- Guidelines on approval for resource recovery facilities
- Guidelines on resource recovery processing – the making of clause 11(8) determinations regarding sufficient treatment.
The guidelines were developed following an analysis of resource recovery facilities servicing metropolitan Adelaide and opportunities and constraints faced. The findings of this analysis were presented to the waste and resource recovery industry in January to February 2012 and used as the basis for consultation on draft guidelines during May to June 2012. Submissions have been taken into account in finalising the guidelines.
Also, a range of materials are progressively being banned from disposal to landfill. From 1 September 2012, fluorescent lighting, televisions and computers (including components and consumables) from metropolitan Adelaide must generally not be disposed of to landfill.
Zero Waste SA is providing information for households and businesses on disposal options for lighting, televisions and computer waste. Please visit Zero Waste SA website for further information.
EPA guidance materials on handling wastes banned from landfill will be released in the near future. Following consultation on draft guidelines in May to June 2012, the EPA has been liaising further with local government, recyclers, transfer stations and landfill operators regarding issues about the handling of banned wastes that were raised through consultation.
For further queries regarding the handling of banned wastes collected or received by councils, waste transporters or waste or resource recovery facilities, please contact email@example.com.
2012 feedback from EPA stakeholders
The EPA regularly seeks feedback from stakeholders through a variety of channels including meetings, consultations on projects, Board consultation meetings, the annual Board Round-table, market research and from callers to our pollution reporting and enquiry line.
Feedback is used to help us shape and improve our services.
In April and May we conducted a major market research survey, focussing on four particular stakeholder groups: licensed businesses, enquiry and pollution complaints line callers, radiation licensees and local government officers. The survey questions repeated the EPA’s 2008 questionnaire, enabling valid comparisons between the two surveys to identify any emerging trends.
The research was again conducted by the independent researcher, the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute of Marketing Science, University of South Australia, with participants assured their responses would be kept confidential.
The research found that stakeholders perceived the EPA’s strengths to be in the areas of managing our working relationships with stakeholders and in managing our communications. However, our stakeholders told us that we could do better in areas such as timeliness, providing feedback and “going the extra mile”.
The 2012 overall satisfaction rating was 71%, compared with 69% in 2008, indicating stable performance over time.
The research results will be used to help us to determine how we can further improve our services and will be an important tool in shaping our decisions and programs.
We especially thank those of you who participated in the survey – your time and feedback is appreciated.
Operation Cover Up
During July the Illegal Dumping Unit (IDU) conducted a campaign targeting vehicles transporting uncovered or unsecured waste in breach of the Environment Protection (Waste to Resources) Policy 2010.
The crackdown focused on the metropolitan area and involved staff auditing waste transport drivers on a random basis. Drivers found to be in breach of the policy were fined.
While most waste transporters are doing the right thing, there are a few truck drivers and waste transport companies who choose to ignore their responsibilities. As a result, unsecured litter and potentially hazardous waste can be blown onto people’s properties, parks or even end up in the stormwater system.
A total of 18 expiations were issued during the four week operation. Observations showed that a larger percentage of trucks across metropolitan Adelaide were covering up by the third week of the operation. Nearly all trucks at southern dumps were covered by the end of the operation, however a large proportion of trucks travelling to northern dumps were still uncovered. Operation Cover Up will be run bi-annually.
Waste management down south
The Chief Executive Dr Campbell Gemmell and other senior staff recently toured a variety of waste and resources operations in the southern region.
They visited one of the state’s larger recycling depots to meet with the Recyclers of SA. During the site visit, they were shown the traditional manual sorting system for returned containers and new automatic sorting technology. This technology has been in pilot phase for a few years but is now in the process of being implemented.
At Southern Waste ResourceCo (SWRC) the EPA visitors looked at the leachate dams, landfill and newly commissioned remediation treatment facility. There was a lot of action at the site as it is currently receiving 3,000 – 4,000 tonnes per day of contaminated soil removed from the new Royal Adelaide Hospital site, which is being managed in accordance with the SWRC’s EPA licence.
Later that day, they visited the Fleurieu Regional Waste Authority (FRWA) located in Goolwa and toured the Goolwa Waste Depot. The FRWA is only two years old and is a partnership of four councils which have joined together to manage waste and recycling in their respective areas.
Presiding Member of Board term concludes
Ms Cheryl Bart, AO, has been the Presiding Member of the Board of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) for 4 years. On the 3 August 2012 her term expired and she has decided not to renominate for the position.
The EPA would like to thank her for demonstrating solid leadership and professionalism during her time as Presiding Member and for her commitment to transforming the EPA into a modern regulator. She has been a strong advocate for the EPA’s external image, as well as the EPA’s place in Government.
She oversaw many key reforms and programs and much change and growth occurred under her leadership, particularly the provision of more timely and easily accessible information to the public and the move towards the EPA becoming a more transparent regulator.
The EPA wishes Cheryl every success with her future career.
Online access to new environmental authorisation applications
Details of new environmental authorisation (licences, works approval, exemptions) applications are now available on the website as part of our commitment to progressively uploading environmental information held on the public register.
The public will be able to view details of new authorisation applications received by the EPA and submit online comments relating to the application. While the process of inviting public comment has always been available this initiative will make it more accessible for interested members of the community to be involved early in the licensing process and have direct input into the development of licence conditions.
Applications will be open for online comments for two weeks. Once all comments are received the EPA provides these to the applicant – with personal details removed – and requires that the applicant responds to the EPA about any issues raised. The EPA then considers both the submissions and the response in any decisions about granting or varying an environmental authorisation.
To coincide with the upload of new application details, the website also provides an explanation of the environmental authorisation application process. For more information see FAQs.
CE visits Bolivar with SA Water
Last month, Chief Executive (CE) Dr Campbell Gemmell and Director Regulation and Compliance Keith Baldry visited one of Adelaide’s three major metropolitan wastewater treatment plants in Bolivar, accompanied by SA Water staff.
AllWater (Bolivar) staff took them on a comprehensive tour of the treatment plant to examine the equipment which processes more than 250 megalitres of wastewater every day.
At the treatment plant the wastewater undergoes a multi-stage treatment process to clean it before discharge or reuse.
EPA explores Olympic Dam
The Board Presiding Member Cheryl Bart, along with Director Regulation and Compliance Keith Baldry and Executive Officer EPA Board Corinne Kelly, toured the Olympic Dam facility on 19-20 June as guests of BHP Billiton.
The team visited the underground, smelting and refining operations and the expansion (ODP1) sites being prepared for the new pit, airport and Hiltaba construction village.
The tour included facilities at Roxby Downs and sites of the proposed new subdivisions and the Arid Recovery reserve, a 123-km² fenced area that excludes feral animals which is a joint initiative of BHP Billiton, local community, DEWNR and University of Adelaide.
Field trips to Munno Para MAR scheme and Yalumba Barossa Valley
On 29 June, CE Dr Campbell Gemmell, South East Branch’s Manager Naomi Grey, Water Quality Branch staff member Peter Newland, met with City of Playford staff to visit the Munno Para Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) scheme.
The site tour was of the pumping station, discharge bores and wetlands and included further discussions about the MAR scheme.
The Munno Para MAR scheme currently harvests 0.5 gigalitres per year of stormwater which after treatment in a clay lined wetland, is pumped into an appropriate aquifer for storage (referred as the T2 aquifer). The water is later pumped back out of the aquifer and used to irrigate council and school reserves.
Later that day, the group ventured to meet with Yalumba winery in the Barossa Valley to inspect the company's Oxford Landing winery site. Yalumba is an EPA Accredited Sustainability licence holder and the family owned business is committed to sustainable winemaking which they have extended to their growers.
Cross-agency collaboration at this year’s Adelaide Boat Show
The EPA Boat Show stand had plenty of public interest in the joint DEWNR Marine Parks, PIRSA Fishcare and EPA display.
The stand won the award for Best Interactive Presence, presented at the Boating Industry Association of South Australia (BIASA) Breakfast on 22 June.
CE Dr Campbell Gemmell was an invited guest to the breakfast to present the EPA Environment Award to Ron Greening of Greenings Landing Marina and Slipway for his dedication to the River Murray and his ongoing commitment to improving environmental practices both at his marina and more broadly across the River Murray system.
The EPA Boat Show stand also included an Environment Trail which was a big hit with the kids. This year there was over 300 entries vying for the prizes on offer.
A special thank you to Hallet Ski Boats, Pacific Marine and the Volunteer Coast Guard for their contributions to this year’s trail and to the other organisations that participated and helped make the trail both educational and fun.
Acid drainage treatment trial in the Riverland
Ongoing water quality monitoring by the EPA has found that that acidity is persisting in drainage channels of 14 irrigation areas in the Lower Murray Reclaimed Irrigation Area (LMRIA) between Mannum and Wellington. The acid drainage water is thought to be a result of the unprecedented low river levels during the recent drought.
Water Quality Branch staff Luke Mosley and David Palmer, went along to the trial site where lime dosing of the drainage channels was being undertaken to neutralise acid water before it is returned to the river at Jervois irrigation area (near Tailem Bend).
The trial ran from the 18–22 June with the assistance of local farmers and was a component of a wider ongoing project on the LMRIA acid drainage issue. The monitoring work conducted during the trial will provide valuable information on treatment options that could be used under lower river flow conditions. A preliminary report will be available on the EPA website towards the end of the year.
Round-table Conference: 2020 Vision for the EPA
There was a real buzz at the Adelaide Zoo last week and it wasn’t the animals.
It was the EPA’s Round-table Conference with stakeholders engaged in lively discussion about the future for South Australia, the environment and the EPA. Board members and the Executive team facilitated an energetic and positive conversation with over 40 stakeholders representing community, industry and government.
Hosting her last round-table conference (her term as Presiding Member concludes in August), Cheryl Bart welcomed everyone. Guest speakers – the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Paul Caica, EPA CE Dr Campbell Gemmell and futurist Dr Peter Ellyard – then addressed the audience to set the scene for gazing into the future.
Participants used interactive technology, Zing, which allows multiple keyboards (one at each table) to feed information into a central computer and real-time viewing of all responses on a screen. This proved to be a great success in generating ideas and comments.
Questions explored the current status of the environment, visions of a preferred environmental future for South Australia and the EPA’s role in achieving that preferred future. The range of responses was diverse and included some more 'out-there' ideas. Results will be considered as the EPA finalises its 2012–15 Strategic Plan and a Round-table Conference Report will also be made available on the EPA website.
Thank you to those of you who participated, your input is greatly appreciated.
New licence to possess radiation source
On 1 July, a new licence to possess a radiation source will be introduced due to changes to the Radiation Protection and Control Act 1982, which will bring SA into line with other jurisdictions. Licences to possess will be issued to a person or a company authorising them to conduct a radiation practice such as possessing, selling or disposing of a radiation source.
The licence will apply to any person or company that owns or wants to own:
- a registrable X-ray apparatus
- a registrable sealed radioactive source
- a registrable premises in which unsealed radioactive substances will be used, stored or otherwise handled
- a cosmetic tanning unit.
It is aimed at ensuring owners and potential owners of radiation sources put in place, monitor and update where necessary, appropriate radiation protection and risk management systems and practices that will promote the safe use, storage and disposal of all their radiation sources.
Owners of radiation sources can either apply for a single licence to possess to cover all their radiation sources, no matter where they are located within South Australia, or apply for several licences to possess to cover all their radiation sources. A licence to possess will identify and describe every radiation source or kinds of radiation sources in relation to which the licence-holder will conduct a radiation practice.
The fees payable will depend on the number of sources owned. Information required with an application may include the following:
- Radiation Management Plan
- Radiation Waste Management Plan
- Security Assessment and Source Security Plan for high radioactive sources.
A licence to possess a radiation source is not required if the owner holds:
- facilities licence, or
- licence to testing for developmental purposes, or
- licence to carry out mining or mineral processing.
For further details and fee structure, check out the FAQs.
South East welcomes CE
The Chief Executive (CE) Dr Campbell Gemmell and Director Strategy and Sustainability Tony Circelli, travelled to the South East in May 2012 to see at first-hand the local environmental issues and meet local key stakeholders and EPA staff.
The visit commenced with a tour of the newly named and nearly completed, renovated Natural Resource Centre which is a shared facility for the EPA, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department for Water and the Natural Resources Management Board. There is one shared front counter for the public to come to for permits, advice and queries.
The trip included tours of significant licensees in the region such as Kimberly-Clark and Carter Holt Harvey, and meetings were held with key stakeholders including local government and timber industry representatives.
Although this regional precinct has traditionally thrived by virtue of the diverse range of industries in the region, the current economic tensions are causing uncertainty and competitive challenges.
There was also an opportunity to have a tour of a modern and highly automated dairy operation in the region. The operation combined leading edge technology with adaptive animal behaviour and advanced waste management practices to develop a new model for dairy operations (at less operating cost, better conditions for farmers and the cows, and more environmentally friendly).
Throughout the visit, interviews were scheduled with local South East media regarding various environmental issues in the region, such as water quality, the local gas works and Kimberly-Clark.
The trip provided an opportunity for Dr Gemmell to see some of the region’s key environmental issues and understand the pressures that industry and the public sector face, as well as view the effectiveness of the EPA's South East Branch in establishing and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders and getting positive environmental outcomes for the region.
A new approach to risk-based regulation
Professor Malcolm Sparrow was in Adelaide last month to present a workshop on risk-based regulation, regulatory reform principles and his harms/problem-solving approaches.
Professor Sparrow is an internationally renowned academic, based at Harvard University who has written two widely referenced books on the subject of better practice regulatory approaches, and characterisation and solving of complex regulatory problems.
In conjunction with the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, the EPA brought Professor Sparrow to Adelaide for the first time. Staff from the EPA and 13 other government agencies, the Commonwealth and the Victorian and NSW EPAs, attended the workshop.
Those who attended the workshop came away with a greater understanding of how to best use new principles and approaches to tackle some of the biggest environmental problems and integral business processes.
As a result of the level of interest in the workshop, the EPA is planning to invite Professor Sparrow to Adelaide the next time he visits Australia.
Resource recovery guidelines available for comment
The EPA has prepared draft guidelines to support implementation of these requirements.
From Saturday 1 September 2012, most wastes produced in metropolitan Adelaide must not be disposed of to landfill unless they have first been subject to a resource recovery process. Also, a range of materials are progressively being banned from disposal to landfill. For the effective administration of the new requirements under these clauses, the EPA is developing guidance materials regarding approval criteria for facilities, processing and the handling of banned wastes.
The EPA has prepared the following draft guidelines to support implementation of these requirements:
- guidelines on the assessment of resource recovery facilities
- guidelines on resource recovery processing requirements
- guidelines on handling wastes banned from landfill.
The draft guidelines can be accessed here.
The EPA seeks your views on the draft guidelines and comments will be received until Friday 8 June 2012.
EPA Board appointments
New Board member Mr Terry Groom has been appointed by his Excellency the Governor in Executive Council for a period of 12 months.
Terry Groom (pictured) is a consultant solicitor with over 40 years experience in commercial, property and industrial law.
He was admitted to the Bar in 1972, was a Member of State Parliament for 13 years and served as Chairperson of the Economic and Finance Committee, Minister for Primary Industries and Minister Assisting the Premier on Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs.
In 2003, Terry served as Chairperson of the Hills Face Zone Review and is currently a Board Member of the Motor Accident Commission. He has been a lecturer in Taxation Law at Adelaide and Panorama Institutes of TAFE in the Accountancy course. He has served as a Board Member of the Repatriation General Hospital, Roseworthy Agricultural College Council and Flinders University Council.
After 7 years as a Member of the EPA Board, Andrew Fletcher has stepped down on expiry of his term on 20 April 2012. Board members thanked Andrew for his enormous effort over the last seven years in which he brought to the table a wealth of industrial and economic development knowledge. His work on the Funding Sustainability Committee and commitment to reforming the funding of the EPA was also acknowledged.
Current members Jane Yuile, Megan Dyson and Allan Holmes have been reappointed until 20 April 2013.
Environmental compliance and enforcement summit
CE Dr Campbell Gemmell attended the 1st International Chiefs of Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Summit held in France in March, as part of the Australian delegation, organised by INTERPOL and the United Nations Environment Programme.
The summit brought together the world leaders in the field of environmental law enforcement with the aim to improve environmental compliance, and to take the first co-operative steps towards enhanced international law enforcement and collaboration in this field.
Campbell joined delegates from 80 nations, including the US and Scottish EPA, and delegates from Africa, Asia, North and South America as well as Europe and Australasia.
The summit focused on sharing experience of wildlife and pollution crimes, created knowledge exchange groups for the future and agreed to covert information sharing about crimes in their jurisdictions. It will prove a valuable network for the future.
Local Government Association annual conference
CE Dr Campbell Gemmell was a keynote speaker at the event, addressing local government with his vision for ‘Working together to achieve excellence in environmental service delivery, both locally and at state level’.
The EPA participated at this year’s Local Government Association (LGA) of South Australia annual conference ‘Local Government showcase and General Meeting’ which was held at the Adelaide Convention Centre on the 12 and 13 April.
This year’s event showcased a range of services and provided the opportunity for council and local government representatives to further discuss our services and areas of support, in particular the launch of the Illegal Dumping Unit.
CE Dr Campbell Gemmell was a keynote speaker at the event, addressing local government with his vision for ‘Working together to achieve excellence in environmental service delivery, both locally and at state level’. Through his presentation, Campbell talked of his previous experience with SEPA and the EU, thoughts on excellence across the scope of ‘the environment’, and exploration of how to further improve and strengthen inter government relationships.
2012 Stakeholder Survey
The EPA is once again seeking stakeholder feedback on our service delivery, with a new stakeholder survey to be conducted in April.
On behalf of the EPA, the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute of Marketing will be sampling four key stakeholder groups to survey their satisfaction with the manner in which we deliver our services and provide information. In the event that you are contacted, your time and feedback will be greatly appreciated.
The 2008 benchmark survey sampled licensees, enquiry and complaints line-callers and radiation licensees. This year we are seeking to add local government officers to the sample as a separate category.
Since the 2008 survey was conducted a number of significant organisational initiatives have been implemented. Some have been in response to issues identified by the survey, others in response to emerging issues. These include:
- improvements to the processing of calls and complaints to the enquiries and pollution reporting hotline, with 95% of pollution complaints now resolved by a two-staged letter process
- the new EPA website launched in 2009, that provides easier access to services, information, reports and relevant forms, and reporting requirements
- progressing the government’s and Board’s commitment to openness and transparency by improving access to public register documents and information via the website.
The 2012 survey will provide essential data to compare with the 2008 findings, and assist in identifying new priority areas for organisational improvements as well as evaluate customer service satisfaction in line with Target 32 of South Australia’s Strategic Plan.
Fire at Mulhern's Wingfield waste oil depot
The last month proved to be challenging with the fire at Mulhern’s, however immediate emergency response action was able to capture 80% of the oil within the first 48 hours.
Due to the unfortunate timing of torrential rain, oil breached the booms and leaked into the nearby Barker Inlet wetlands causing further challenges to the recovery process. The EPA has been working around the clock with other government agencies to minimise impact to the environment and wildlife.
We must commend the efforts of the Metropolitan Fire Service, Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure and our other government colleagues that minimised the impacts on the environment.
The EPA will continue to investigate and monitor both the short and long-term effects on the environment; focusing our attention on the site of the fire and ensuring appropriate cleaning up of contamination.
State of the Environment Report update
Work on The State of the Environment Report (SoE) is now well underway for the report’s release in 2013.
This report aims to inform South Australians about the current state of their environment and provide an assessment of our efforts to deal with significant environmental issues.
The SoE is an important document which outlines the current and developing changes in the environment across a diverse range of themes. As a result of this report, suggested recommendations will guide government, industry and the community to efficiently use our natural resources and minimise our impact on the environment.
This substantial in-depth project is a collaboration of both government and non-government agencies who contribute their knowledge and expertise whilst applying thorough research methods and scientific investigations. In addition, the report is peer reviewed by independent experts to ensure the best outcomes are produced to help guide the South Australian community towards a sustainable future.
The SoE is also a significant component of the EPA’s and government’s priority to continue to inform and educate the community about the state of the environment.
The EPA releases a State of the Environment (SoE) Report at least every five years, the last State of the Environment Report was published in 2008. The 2011 Australian State of the Environment report was tabled in the Commonwealth Parliament on 12 December 2011 in accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
New Chief Executive’s vision for the EPA
Welcome to the first edition of EPA Monitor for 2012!
I would like to take this opportunity formally to introduce myself and outline my plans for the EPA and environmental regulation in South Australia.
Before taking up the position on the 30 January, I was Chief Executive of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency for 9 years and before that strategy director for 2 years, totalling 11 years experience running a 1,400-strong organisation. I also spent seven years as CE of the UK’s largest community forestry which is responsible for revitalisingderelict land and providing new opportunities for leisure, social and economic development.
In my earlier career, I worked in the fields of economic development and environmental consultancy. During the 1980s, I held a post-doctoral research lectureship at Christ Church, Oxford and was involved in a range of scientific expeditions and field studies in Alaska, Iceland, Kenya, Norway and Switzerland.
I have taken up this new position in South Australia to lead the Authority in addressing critical environmental needs and priorities, and further meet customer and partner expectations.
I’ve already had some very constructive meetings with Minister Paul Caica and with members of the EPA board, and I’ll be talking to colleagues across government and the state so that we can understand just what can be done and what the priorities are, ensuring we utilise our resources effectively and efficiently.
I am aware that the EPA has been in the spotlight recently regarding a number of environmental issues. When we find a problem, we’ve got to work out who can help to make it better. Sometimes that means recognising a long history of pollution which takes time and substantial resources to manage.
I believe good, robust, long-term development planning and long-term solutions are paramount to the future health of the South Australian environment. And it is important for us as environmental regulators to be involved early on in the process.
Above all, the EPA must achieve the right balance between social, economic and environmental considerations. It is my professional philosophy that we need to set clear regulatory expectations, assist regulated parties in their efforts to comply, and when the wrong thing is done to the environment, that the regulator be decisive and robust in taking firm action.
I am thoroughly looking forward to working with you all and leading the Authority in protecting this unique environment. I will embrace the challenges of the years to come.
Dr Campbell Gemmell
Environment Protection Authority
Cracking down on illegal dumping
The state government has created a high-level unit to combat illegal dumping across Adelaide.
The EPA Illegal Dumping Unit was officially launched on 30 January at the Wingfield Waste & Recycling Centre. Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Paul Caica and Director of Strategy and Sustainability Tony Circelli, made the announcement to local councils and invited guests.
Minister Caica said the unit will identify, investigate and stop illegal waste activities using intelligence, covert surveillance and other investigative techniques.
While the unit does not deal with small roadside car boot dumping and dumping of domestic waste, the EPA is working with local and state government agencies to deal with this issue, by sharing information and advice, and providing support and training. Working together will minimise the substantial clean-up costs to government agencies and protect health, safety and the environment for the community.
Always ensure you dispose of your waste properly. Click here for further information on how to recycle or dispose of your waste.
Check out the brochure.
More information about illegal dumping.
If you have any information on illegal waste activities please contact our hotline.
Increased access to site contamination information
An index of site contamination audit notifications and reports is now available on the EPA website as part of the EPA’s commitment to progressively upload environmental information held on its public register.
The public will be able to search for notifications and reports by suburb or town to find out if a site contamination audit has commenced, an audit report has been completed for that site or has been terminated before completion. Free copies of the audit report and notifications listed on the website index can be requested from the EPA free of charge.
This initiative will make it easier to find out what information is held by the EPA and to gain more timely access to that information.
To coincide with the upload of this additional site contamination information, the website also provides an explanation of the site contamination audit process.
Emergency contact numbers for licensees
Recently there have been some technical problems with the emergency contact number for licensees wishing to report pollution incidents.
This has now been rectified. There is a secondary number which can be used to ensure that the information is received.
Please note the following numbers:
The primary number to use remains as 1800 100 833.
The secondary number to call if technical problems arise is 8204 2004.
The secondary number will direct you to a 24-hour call centre. All information will be logged onto the EPA’s pollution reporting system CARES.
Enhancing resource recovery
From 1 September 2012, most wastes produced in metropolitan Adelaide must not be disposed of to landfill unless they have first been subjected to a resource recovery process.
A range of materials are also progressively being banned from disposal to landfill. For the effective administration of the new requirements under these clauses, the EPA is developing guidance materials regarding approval criteria for facilities, processing and the handling of banned wastes.
Rawtec Pty Ltd and Mike Haywood, Sustainable Resource Solutions have undertaken an analysis of resource recovery activities servicing metropolitan Adelaide for the EPA and ZeroWaste SA. The preparation of the report was assisted by information contributed by industry.
The report recommends a staged approach to achieving enhanced resource recovery in South Australia and examines the following options:
- business as usual
- data reporting
- resource recovery plans
- source separated and resource recovered residual material direct to landfill
- specified processes for resource recovery
- resource recovery targets.
The EPA is working on the development of draft guidance materials based on the findings and recommendations of the report.
Have a happy and safe Christmas!
Welcome to the final edition of EPA Monitor for 2011.
The Christmas edition provides the opportunity to reflect on another very busy year with many challenges and a number of key successes.
One of the most significant was our commitment to improving access to environmental information held on our public register. We now have an index to site contamination notifications and all current EPA licences online, soon to be followed by an index to site contamination audits and reports. This is certainly a major achievement in enhancing access to information and accountability of the EPA which will continue in the coming year.
The EPA Aquatic Ecosystem Condition Reports were officially released, presenting a significant breakthrough in the way water quality is measured and reported.
The EPA Board’s Port Adelaide-LeFevre Community Engagement Day proved to be very valuable. Board members spent the day talking with representatives from the Port Adelaide Enfield Council, EPA licensees, local community groups and residents, listening to local issues raised.
It was pleasing to see the results of the state government, industry, local government and community groups working together to improve Adelaide’s coastal water quality and bring back Adelaide’s seagrass. This commitment is set out in the draft Adelaide Coastal Water Quality Improvement Plan released for public comment.
The EPA’s work on the environmental assessment of the Olympic Dam expansion project has been a major focus for the year. We are confident that we have provided sound and rigorous advice and direction on how to best manage the environmental impacts of this major project.
Air quality monitoring across the state has continued, with particular attention being paid to Port Pirie lead levels, LeFevre Peninsula industrial and building development dust and the promotion of efficient use of wood burning heaters in Mount Gambier.
Finally, congratulations again to the Whyalla Council who received South Australia’s fifth EPA Sustainability Licence. The Whyalla Council’s Sustainability Licence is the first to combine multiple activities and licences, with licences for their marina slipway and crematorium operations being combined into a single licence.
We are very much looking forward to continuing to work with you next year, and the opportunities that will come from the leadership of our new Chief Executive Campbell Gemmell. We have been in regular contact with Campbell as he says goodbye to his home country Scotland and the Scottish EPA and prepares for his SA EPA start on the 30 January. It will be an exciting new chapter for the EPA!
Have a very safe, happy and relaxing Christmas and New Year. I wish you and your families all the best for the holiday season!
Olympic Dam development environmental assessment
The Federal and South Australian governments have granted their approval for BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam Expansion project, subject to the most stringent environmental conditions in South Australia’s history.
The SA government's assessment report (as released on 10 October 2011) concluded that, on balance, the environmental, social and economic impacts of the Olympic Dam expansion are acceptable based on the:
- proposed design and location of various components
- proposed mitigation and management measures
- BHP Billiton's commitments and environmental management program
- setting of 157 appropriate development approval conditions.
The EPA was a significant contributor to the government's assessment of the project, including the preparation of various chapters and sections in the assessment report and the conditions of development approval.
Of the 157 conditions of development approval, four conditions require BHP Billiton to prepare certain plans for approval by the Indenture Minister with the concurrence of the EPA before construction and/or operation of these components of the expansion project can be commenced. These plans include:
- an air quality management and monitoring plan for the mining and mineral processing
- a desalination plant construction environmental management and monitoring plan
- a landing facility construction environmental management and monitoring plan
- a landing facility operational environmental management and monitoring plan.
Beyond assessing the adequacy of the above plans (once drafted by BHP Billiton), the next major stage of the EPA’s involvement in the expansion project will be in setting and monitoring compliance with licence conditions for operation of the desalination plant, the new Pimba to Olympic Dam railway, new power plants at Olympic Dam and the expansion of the mining and smelting operations, including radiation regulation.
New EPA annual report
The EPA's 2010–11 Annual Report has been tabled in Parliament by the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Paul Caica and is now available online.
Public register fees waived
There are changes to the fee structure for accessing documents on the EPA Public Register.
The public can now access documents at a significantly reduced cost or often at no cost. Check out the new fees.
Aquatic ecosystem condition reports
A set of aquatic ecosystem condition reports on the health of South Australia’s rivers and creeks has been released by the EPA.
Mount Gambier SmokeWatch
SmokeWatch Mount Gambier concludes in 2011 as the last year of a three-year program.
The program combined air quality monitoring, and community education and engagement to encourage householders to undertake efficient wood heating practices throughout winter and further understand the sources of particle pollution in Mount Gambier.
SmokeWatch Mount Gambier was a collaborative partnership between the EPA, City of Mount Gambier, Department of Health, Firewood Association of Australia, and the Australian Home Heating Association, and gained the support of several local businesses, schools, and community organisations.
Highlights of the 2011 program included:
- the provision of wood moisture meters to the local library to loan to residents, the development of a self-assessment tool for wood heater users
- a community information workshop providing results of air quality monitoring in Mount Gambier and an opportunity for residents to ask questions about air quality in Mount Gambier and how to improve wood heating efficiency.
It is evident that community awareness of air quality issues has been raised and enhanced monitoring throughout the program has provided information on the sources of particle pollution including the contribution of domestic wood smoke.
The 2011 campaign report will be available online next year. The EPA is currently working with partners and supporters to review the three-year program and provide recommendations for any potential future activities to promote the key messages.
EPA CE announced
The current chief Executive of Scotland’s independent environment watchdog Professor Campbell Gemmell has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of the SA EPA.
Professor Gemmell has been the CE of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency for the past eight years and replaced Helen Fulcher who retired in August 2011.
Professor Gammell will commence his post at the EPA in early 2012. In the meantime, Tony Circelli will act in the role of CE.
EPA Board visits Port Adelaide community
On 14 September, the EPA Board hosted a community consultation in the LeFevre Peninsula region to give the local community an opportunity to raise their environmental concerns directly with Board members.
The EPA Board spent the day talking with representatives from the Port Adelaide Enfield Council, EPA licensees, local community groups and residents.
Board members found the consultations extremely insightful with main discussions relating to Adelaide Brighton Cement, rail noise and the fuel depot at Outer Harbour.
Fifth EPA Sustainability Licence issued
The Whyalla Council has received South Australia’s fifth EPA Sustainability Licence.
The EPA issued the new licence to the Whyalla Council after it demonstrated exceptional leadership in the local government sector by undertaking activities such as:
- Reducing council water by 40% in a 2 year period
- Constructing a 35ML stormwater retention dam in a new industrial estate to supply water for street trees.
- Encouraging waste recycling in the community, resulting in a 50% decrease in waste going to landfill in a 2 year period up to August 2009.
The Whyalla Council’s Sustainability Licence is the first to combine multiple activities and licences, with licences for their marina slipway and crematorium operations being combined into a single licence. While the landfill/recycling centre licence remains separate, pending the council’s decision on its future role in managing this activity.
The Environment Protection (Waste to Resources) Policy 2010 will see various wastes from landfill banned over the course of three years and diverting this waste into a system of recovery, reuse and recycling.
The second round of bans commenced on 1 September 2011 with whitegoods and vehicles to no longer be disposed of to landfill in South Australia. Further landfill bans, for problematic wastes such as e-waste, are due to come into effect in 2012 and 2013. Fines of up to $30,000 can be applied for breaches of bans.
Whitegoods and vehicles have high metal contents and can be recycled. It is also important that these items are handled appropriately to avoid the escape of gases that can be harmful to our environment. National regulations prohibit the disposal of fluorocarbon refrigerant. Refrigerant and air conditioning equipment (including air conditioning) must be degassed by technicians licensed under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989.
There are recycling services available for whitegoods and some scrap metal merchants may collect them directly.
New EPA Board member
On 4 August 2011, the Governor at Executive Council appointed Adjunct Professor Rob Fowler as a member of the EPA Board.
Professor Fowler has been appointed on the Board until 3 August 2012.
A farewell from Helen Fulcher
At the end of August, my term as Chief Executive of the EPA and Presiding Member of the Radiation Protection Committee will come to an end and I will retire from full time work.
Over the last 3 years, the EPA has continued to take a firm but fair approach to regulation and I see the vast majority of licensees trying to do the right thing by the environment.
I have been delighted to see licensees and businesses contact us early so we can help address problems and share best practice. There are now some excellent case studies of licensees going beyond compliance requirements and reducing energy and water needs.
Meanwhile, community interest has been increasing in wanting to understand how EPA licensing works and what environmental information we hold. To that end, we are putting licences up on the web (see below).
Tony Circelli will be Acting Chief Executive from 1 September 2011 until the process for the new Chief Executive is completed.
Best wishes for your business success and sustainability.
Online access to EPA licences
Environmental authorisations–licences, exemptions and works approvals–will be made available on the EPA from September 2011 as part of the EPA’s commitment to progressively upload environmental information held on its public register.
Currently EPA licences form part of the EPA’s public register and are available for inspection or copying, on payment of a prescribed fee. This initiative will improve access to them by allowing the public to search online for licence information using a licence number, licensee name or suburb/town and download a PDF copy of a licence for free. This licence information will be updated on a quarterly basis.
Attachments to individual licences will not be accessible in this online format for download because of size and complexity, but as part of the public register they are available for viewing and copying by contacting the EPA direct and paying a fee prescribed by legislation. Some fee waivers will apply.
Meetings with peak bodies and associations (Australian Industry Group, Business SA, South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy, Conservation Council, Local Government Association and the Waste Management Association) have been held and have provided the EPA with a good opportunity to present the initiative and gauge early feedback. So far, feedback has been positive and groups have shown great interest.
This will improve accessibility to existing information that is of public interest and enable South Australians to better understand the licensing conditions that are in place to protect the community and its environment.
New Illegal Dumping Unit
In the recent budget, the EPA secured funding to establish an Illegal Dumping Unit (IDU) and enhance the EPA's waste levy auditing capacity.
EPA will be recruiting six staff for the IDU and two additional waste levy auditors.
The IDU will focus on illegal waste activities such as illegal landfilling, illegal dumping of hazardous wastes, illegal dumping of commercial quantities of demolition and industrial waste and waste businesses operating without an EPA licence.
What will the IDU do?
The IDU’s function is to detect, investigate and stop illegal waste activities, and this aligns closely with the EPA‘s Investigations Branch.
The IDU will use intelligence, covert surveillance and other investigative techniques to identify all parties that are involved in an illegal waste activity. This approach will hold to account all parties along the waste chain, from producer, through transporter to the disposer.
Deterrence will be enhanced by a zero tolerance approach to offenders, including cost recovery and confiscation of the profits of illegal activity, to remove the financial incentive associated with illegal waste activity.
The IDU will not be dealing with smaller roadside car boot dumping and dumping of domestic waste. However, the IDU will be working with local government to assist councils dealing with this issue, by sharing intelligence and providing support and training.
Why are illegal waste activities a problem?
These illegal waste activities can reduce community amenity, damage human health and cause environmental harm. This is especially true when hazardous materials like asbestos or chemicals are dumped.
Illegal landfillers and illegal recycling depots avoid the costs of engineering an appropriate landfill or depot, meaning they typically do not have proper environmental controls in place. This can lead to contamination of land and waters. Some offenders also profit from charging people to receive the waste.
Offenders conducting illegal waste activities also avoid paying disposal fees, licence fees and the waste levy and illegal operators undermine the legitimate waste market by undercutting honest operators.
Illegally dumped waste is also expensive for government and the community to clean up.
How can you help?
If you have any information on illegal waste activities please contact the EPA hotline:
- Telephone: (08) 8204 2004 or 1800 623 445 (non-metropolitan callers)
- Fax: (08) 8124 4670
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Seed cleaning audit in the South East
The EPA’s South East office has undertaken an industry wide inspection program of EPA licensees undertaking crushing, grinding or milling of agricultural crops.
This licence sector includes operations such as olive oil production, flour milling, and seed cleaning.
The licensed premises were inspected to assess compliance with the Environment Protection Act (1993), specifically compliance with licence conditions, relevant Environment Protection Policies under the Act.
In general the level of compliance with the Act and licence conditions was high across the sites. The largest risks associated with these activities were assessed as being air/dust and noise issues. At the time of the inspections, none of the sites were found to be causing an off site impact. All sites had appropriate air cleaning technology to treat the dusty discharges from the processing equipment.
Although a number of the sites could improve some aspects of their operations to improve their risk management (eg clean out stormwater pits more frequently, generally tidy up spilt grain, waste seed management), none of the sites has urgent areas of non-compliance or high environmental risk requiring addressing.
The EPA will be undertaking a review of all licences issued across the State for these operations, with a view to ensuring licence conditions are uniform and appropriate for all operators, and that the conditions are easily understood by the operators.
The South East office of the EPA will be undertaking another industry wide audit program later in the year, with the industry yet to be chosen.
Changes to the Environment Protection Regulations 2009
Following a review of its Licence Fee System (LFS), the EPA has implemented changes to the Environment Protection Regulations 2009.
Read more (Please note: This item links to an already existent EPA webpage on the Environment Protection Regulations 2009.
What you need to know about site contamination
In late February, the EPA wrote to more than 2,200 residents of South Plympton and Edwardstown after hazardous chemicals were found in groundwater in the area. The source is believed to be the former Hills Holding site on South Road and is likely to be the result of historic waste disposal.
In recent months, the there have been media items in relation to site contamination issues at Edwardstown and Solomontown. As the regulator, the EPA oversights the site contamination system, ensuring responsible parties meet their obligations.
To improve its transparency to the South Australian community, the EPA has improved public access to records it holds about site contamination by introducing a new online index on the website.
The index provides SA industries and communities with online access that will allow them to search by suburb and find out whether there have been any notifications of actual or potential groundwater contamination in the area.
The sites listed on the index arise from notifications that have been received by the EPA as a result of the government’s new contamination provisions that require site owners and operators to advise us of any known contamination.
The groundwater notifications date from 1 July 2009 when the amendments to the Environment Protection Act 1993 made it a legal requirement for actual or potential groundwater contamination to be reported to the EPA.
The EPA Board is committed to ensuring the community receives earlier notification on actual or potential contamination. When the authority receives information regarding a contaminated site, it will publish information on the website as well as in local newspapers.
Individuals wanting more information on a particular site can contact the EPA and arrange to speak with a site contamination officer.
The index will be updated monthly (around the middle of each month). About 10-12 new notifications are received monthly.
Contamination at Edwardstown
In late February, the EPA wrote to more than 2,200 residents of South Plympton and Edwardstown after hazardous chemicals were found in groundwater in the area. The source is believed to be the former Hills Holding site on South Road and is likely to be the result of historic waste disposal.
The EPA is requiring further testing to determine the full nature and extent of contamination. The EPA is testing inside homes under a testing program which is being developed in consultation with health experts.
For information, click here.
Contamination at Solomontown
In early March, the EPA door-knocked approximately 100 homes in Solomontown, after testing found potentially hazardous chemicals that may be related to historical activities at an old gas works site.
Soil vapour tests were conducted through December and January, which found elevated levels of chemicals underground in road verges and footpaths. These chemicals have the potential to migrate through the soil and into homes.
After consultation with SA Health, the EPA determined that precautionary vapour testing is required in adjacent homes. Testing in homes took place in mid-March 2011 and results are being awaited.
The EPA is taking every possible step to protect the health of the community and will make testing results available as soon as possible.
Further information on these contamination issues can be found on the home page.
EPA Services Directory now available online
A new Services Directory has been added to our website search function for easier access to these services, information pages, reports and relevant forms and reporting requirements.
The EPA provides a wide range of environmental services and pollution, waste and radiation regulation services for industry, businesses, local government and the general public. We also publish a wide range of reports and data on scientific monitoring and testing of air, water and soil to identify immediate pollution concerns and long term environmental trends
A new Services Directory has been added to our website search function for easier access to these services, information pages, reports and relevant forms and reporting requirements.
Located on a tab next to the Document search function on the right-hand side of the EPA home page, the Services Directory allows you to search by browsing the listings or by keyword search. Click here to try it out and send us your feedback via our website feedback.
EPA Victoria Compliance & Enforcement Review
EPA Victoria recently announced the results of an independent review of its compliance and enforcement activities by Stan Krpan, the former Director of Legal Services and Investigations at WorkSafe Victoria (Victoria’s Health and Safety regulator).
The review involved a comprehensive assessment of how EPA Victoria educates and supports duty-holders to comply with the law and how it enforces against those that don’t.
The independent review found that EPA Victoria needs to:
- clarify its core role as an environmental regulator by promoting and adhering to the principles of a modern regulator
- refocus its energy on building staff expertise and knowledge and using that expertise to support duty-holders to comply with the law
- make smarter, more targeted and transparent decisions to tackle the issues that pose the greatest risk to human health and the environment
Mr Krpan visited Adelaide to examine how the SA EPA approaches securing compliance and determining enforcement actions. A number of his recommendations align with the risk-based approaches already developed and used here in South Australia.
Overall the review made 119 recommendations which have all been accepted by Chair Cheryl Batagol.
Consultation on the recommendations is underway with a round of public meetings using the open house method. The next stage for the Victorians is to implement the recommendations and Vic EPA is currently working on an implementation plan which will be publicly released.
The South Australian EPA is examining the review to determine what SA can learn from it to further improve the SA EPA’s performance.
To view the EPA Victoria’s Compliance and Enforcement Report, visit www.epa.vic.gov.au
EPA audits coffee roasters
Coffee roasting businesses in the Adelaide metro area are being inspected by the EPA after frequent complaints were received regarding odour.
Coffee roasting is a licensed activity under the Environment Protection Act (1993) if processing capacity exceeds 30 kg per hour.
The unannounced inspections identified seven coffee roasting businesses requiring an EPA licence. Unlicensed coffee roasters in the metropolitan and regional areas are advised to contact the EPA to determine if they require an EPA licence.
More information can be obtained by phoning us on (08) 8204 2004 or email.
EPA Board re-appointments
Current Board Members Megan Dyson, Allan Holmes and Andrew Fletcher have been re-appointed to the Board for a further 12 months from April 2011.
EPA Board re-appointments
|EPA Board: from left, Linda Bowes, Stephen Hains
(Deputy Presiding Member), Meg Dyson,
Allan Holmes, Helen Fulcher (Chief Executive),
Cheryl Bart AO (Presiding Member),
Andrew Fletcher and Jane Yuille.
Current Board Members Megan Dyson, Allan Holmes and Andrew Fletcher have been re-appointed to the Board for a further 12 months from April 2011.
Megan Dyson has been on the Board since April 2003 and brings a wealth of experience and expertise in the area of environmental law.
Andrew Fletcher was first appointed in April 2005 and has practical knowledge of, and experience in, industry, commerce and economic development.
Allan Holmes has been a member of the Board since April 2003 and has qualifications and experience relevant to environment protection and management, natural resources management, as well as public sector management.