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New leader for the EPA
Dr Jon Gorvett has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of the EPA.
Currently the Deputy Chief Executive of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (DPC), he will take up his new role on 1 May. The EPA's Keith Baldry has been acting Chief Executive since September 2022.
Dr Gorvett has significant experience in government in Australia and the United Kingdom. He held senior roles in the UK Government in London and the European Union and was the UK's lead EU negotiator on climate change, negotiating new policy and legislation between 28 countries and the European Parliament.
He also led the intergovernmental relations and emergency management teams responding to the bushfires of 2019–20 and the management of COVID-19.
Before joining DPC Dr Gorvett was Director of Climate Change at the state Department for Environment and Water.
Seeking the best environmental outcome for fire site
A fire last month at the Lincoln Gap location of an EPA-licensed operator was extinguished by the CFS and the site has been handed back to the owners.
Two of the five tanks were set alight on 23 February. Two other tanks are full of tyres.
The site was licensed by the EPA in 2010 as a waste tyre treatment operation and transport business.
Over time the EPA observed stockpiling tyres and a reduction in tyre processing. In 2019 the EPA licence was varied to prevent the receipt of more end-of-life tyres and to increase the processing rate of the existing tyres.
Subsequent observations found no significant reduction in stockpile volumes and that processing had ceased, and in April 2020 the EPA issued a clean-up order requiring the removal of the tyres by January 2021.
The conditions of the order were not met, and the site was abandoned by the operators. Since 2021 the EPA has engaged with a number of organisations involved with used tyre management, product stewardship and recycling.
The EPA’s priority is the protection of public health and the environment.
A number of scientific and compliance EPA officers have attended the site to provide advice to support CFS activities, to assess environmental impacts and to provide information to inform future action.
While the clean-up of the site remains the responsibility of the owners, the EPA will continue to work with all involved parties to achieve the best environmental outcome.
Clean Up Australia (every) Day
Clean Up Australia Day is held on the first Sunday in March, but the challenge to reduce waste exists year-round.
EPA staff joined in this year’s challenge to make public pledges to take a range of simple, practical steps to further reduce waste.
Through reducing the use of single-use items and choosing sustainable options, individuals, families and businesses can help create a circular economy by keeping resources circulating and out of landfill.
The Clean Up Australia Rubbish Report released this month provides a snapshot of the rubbish removed by volunteers in 2022, with plastics accounting for almost two-thirds of the items collected.
The figures for South Australia showed high amounts of rubbish found on roadsides, public bushland, beaches and waterways. Soft plastics comprised 25 per cent of volunteers’ collections, with hard plastics at 27 per cent and polystyrene at 11 per cent.
If you’re unsure about how to dispose of waste and recyclables, check out Green Industries’ Which Bin resource.
Visit Clean Up Australia for the rubbish reports and information on how to register a clean-up event.
New groundwater prohibition area in force
Stage 2 of the Beverley and surrounding areas Groundwater Prohibition Area (GPA) came into effect on 16 March.
This stage covers part of Seaton and is required to prevent the use and spread of contaminated groundwater.
It prohibits the taking of water to a depth of 45 metres. Deeper aquifers are not known to be affected by the site contamination, caused by the historic use of industrial solvents such as chlorinated hydrocarbons.
More information can be found on the Engage EPA website.
Draft PFAS guidelines
The EPA has begun consultation on 2 draft guidelines that deal with PFAS in South Australia.
As part of the EPA’s regulatory strategy for PFAS management, it has released the draft PFAS-contaminated waste disposal site suitability guideline and the draft PFAS in waste soils guideline.
Per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, are manufactured chemicals that have been used in a range of industrial and consumer products since the 1950s.
They are of concern around the world because they have been purposefully manufactured to be resistant to high temperatures and weathering and to not break down in the environment. They can also accumulate in food chains and travel through groundwater.
The EPA has run two digital information sessions for interested members of the community. The draft guidelines and further information are available from the EPA’s Engage site.
The consultation period ends on 1 March 2023.
Dealing with the aftermath of River Murray flooding
One of the state’s biggest natural disaster clean-ups is under way as River Murray communities recover from significant flooding.
The State Government’s involvement in the waste management element is led by Green Industries SA (GISA) with advice and support from the EPA.
Free structural assessments are available to people with primary residences and holiday homes in the affected areas, as well as small businesses and not-for-profit organisations.
Material will be recycled wherever possible. This will include sand from sandbags, which can be used later in rebuilding flood-damaged roads.
Flood mud – the wet clay, soil and sand that settles on the ground after flood waters recedes – must not be placed into any waterways, including the River Murray.
Under the Environment Protection (Water Quality) Policy 2015, these substances are classed as pollutants that can affect the recovery of the river’s ecosystem. More information, including options for disposing of flood mud, can be found on the EPA website.
Information about property assessments and the clean-up process is available from GISA.
Property owners with flood-affected material and debris can get five free vouchers for drop-offs to any of the 11 transfer stations in the River Murray region. This program is jointly funded by the state and federal governments under disaster recovery funding arrangements.
The funding will help local government to extend transfer station opening hours, put on more staff, and cover the costs of recycling, where possible, and landfill.
People who have previously registered for flood relief or financial assistance will already have a client ID. This can be used to pick up the vouchers at any of the participating landfills.
Further information on the vouchers.
Flooding at Blanchetown
Extension of northern Adelaide groundwater prohibition area
The EPA will extend an existing groundwater prohibition area (GPA) at Edinburgh to parts of Waterloo Corner, Bolivar and St Kilda.
The EPA has completed a three-month community engagement process and property owners and residents in the area have been informed of the decision.
The GPA, to be known as Edinburgh Stage 2, will come into effect on 23 February and follows the establishment of the first stage in February 2022. Both are needed because of historic contamination by per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
Driver Road at Waterloo
Modernisation of radiation safety legislation
New legislation and regulations governing radiation safety in South Australia came into effect on 11 February, promoting national uniformity and replacing an Act that was 40 years old.
The Radiation Protection and Control Act 2021 and the Radiation Protection and Control Regulations 2022 adopt international and Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) codes and standards.
The commencement of the legislation was the culmination of several years’ work by branches across the EPA and members of the state’s Radiation Protection Committee, an expert advisory body appointed by the Governor.
The Act and regulations support the principles of sustainable development, enabling access by South Australians to the benefits of new radiation technologies, and providing a modern, risk-based approach that focuses on the important issues and removes unnecessary administrative burdens.
Guidance documents for a range of sectors, including radiology, dentistry, nuclear medicine, veterinary and accredited testers, are on the EPA website.