The EPA Monitor is a monthly newsletter produced by the Communication and Media Branch. If you wish to receive regular updates, please email to subscribe.
Landfill guideline updated
The EPA has released an updated guideline for the management of landfill facilities in South Australia.
The new guidance recognises the changing nature of residual waste composition, and the need to design and operate landfill facilities that take into account the changing chemical and physical composition of residual waste.
The revised guideline reflects best-practice engineering design and construction, based on a revised classification system, as well as new operational practices such as daily cover and resource recovery activities, and expanded guidance on obligations surrounding closure, post-closure and landfill gas.
The structure of the guideline now reflects each of the design and construction elements as an integrated system, with regulatory and operational controls.
Before updating the guideline, the EPA began engaging with the waste industry and stakeholders in October 2017, with a consultation period in mid-2018 that included an invitation for submissions, running workshops and meeting with licensees.
The EPA will continue to work with licensees on an individual basis to review design, construction, operation, closure and post-closure obligations, and where changes to site practices are identified, the EPA will amend licence conditions in accordance with Section 45 of the Environment Protection Act 1993.
Read the Environmental Management of Landfill Facilities – solid waste disposal (2019) or a summary of submissions received during the consultation period.
For further information about the updated guideline, please contact the EPA on (08) 8204 2004 or email@example.com
Site contamination audits
A draft of the updated Guidelines for the site contamination audit system is now available for comment following a review by the EPA.
The proposed revisions include published guidance and instruction notes to auditors, as well as some new mandatory guideline requirements (MGRs) and updates to existing MGRs.
The guidelines were last reviewed in 2015, and required an update to reflect current best practice.
Have your say by reading the draft guidelines and filling out the online submission form before 31 May 2019.
For more information, contact the EPA Site Contamination Branch by phone on 8204 9934 or by email.
Test results in for Brighton and Unley
The latest results of soil and groundwater contamination testing in Brighton and Unley have brought good news for residents.
In Brighton, tetrachloroethene (PCE) from a former dry cleaning shop was discovered in an area bounded by Brighton Road, The Crescent and Jetty Road.
Preliminary assessment work found significant concentrations of the chemical in soil vapour, and further testing was carried out on six properties nearest the highest concentrations.
Results showed that the homes were not at risk of vapour intrusion, but groundwater is contaminated and should not be used for any purpose.
Home-grown produce remains safe to eat so long as it has not been irrigated with bore water.
In Unley, testing for groundwater and soil vapour contamination was undertaken in an area bounded by Charles Lane, Little Charles Street, Mary Street and Tyne Place.
There had been concern over past industrial practices associated with a number of historical industries including refrigeration and furniture making.
However, further assessment has ruled out both groundwater contamination and any risk of soil vapour intrusion.
People who were formerly told not to use groundwater have now been informed that their bores are safe to use.
For more information on areas being assessed for site contamination, visit the Assessment areas page.
Unannounced inspections at Dry Creek
Authorised officers from the EPA visited the Dry Creek industrial area at the end of March to make unannounced inspections at business sites.
Operation Enviroscan focused on compliance with the Environment Protection Act and general environmental duty, and providing advice on better practices where required.
Officers visited 12 businesses on nine sites, resulting in one expiation for a breach of licence conditions, one expiation for breach of water quality policy and three follow-up advisory letters for minor issues.
Generally, businesses were compliant with their licence conditions, while sites that did not require a licence were compliant with their general environmental obligations.
Houseboat grey water requirements updated
New requirements have been approved for houseboats that will allow owners to install greywater systems that are cheaper, more effective and more efficient.
The original ‘Code of practice for vessel and facility management (marine and inland waters)’ was developed in 2008 after extensive consultation with the industry.
The code included the option for containing or treating greywater on board the vessel as requested by boat owners, but in recent years, issues arose with a commercially-available on-board treatment system, as well as maintenance requirements that applied to other systems.
The EPA and industry have worked together to initiate an alternative, cost-effective and sustainable solution to alleviate any outstanding compliance concerns.
After testing and advice from its in-house scientists, the EPA has endorsed this alternative system in the updated code of practice.
Greywater from galley sinks will now be contained on board, then pumped to land for disposal due to its potential to carry pathogens, and materials such as oil, grease, waste solids and detergents.
Greywater from bathrooms and laundries represents a lower risk and can be treated on board using a residential greywater system with a bromination/chlorination function before being discharged back to the river.
The revised code of practice highlights the importance and value of government and industry working in partnership to establish practices for the ongoing benefit of the whole community.
Fine for illegal tanning bed operator
A Glenelg man has been convicted and fined $600 plus $800 in prosecution costs in the Adelaide Magistrates Court over an illegal tanning operation at Somerton Park.
Luke Andrew Mason, 31, pled guilty to a single count of operating a cosmetic tanning service for fee at the TanEzy Spray Tan Salon on Brighton Road, a business that has since closed down.
Owning a tanning bed for personal use is not against the law, but it has been illegal to charge for the service since 2015.
The Cancer Council has warned in the past that the use of tanning beds is associated with an increased risk of cancer, and that no solaria are safe to use.
The EPA hopes that the latest fine will send a warning to anyone thinking of operating or working in illegal solaria.
When EPA officers inspected the TanEzy premises, they found six operational tanning beds, one of which was in use.
While Mr Mason did not own this business, he was a paid employee and he was responsible for the operation of the equipment at the time.
The maximum penalty for the illegal use of solaria is $10,000.
Anyone with information about the illegal use of solaria should contact the EPA on 8204 2000, or 1800 623 445 outside the metropolitan area.
Soil vapour testing in Albert Park
The Environment Protection Authority will soon begin digging bores to test for hazardous soil vapour in Albert Park.
Eleven bores will be dug on nature strips in an area bounded by Murray, Botting, Osborne and Main streets in coming weeks.
Depending on the results from the initial bores, the EPA may then approach residents for permission to test on private properties.
Contamination was first reported in the area last year, and is centred on a Murray Street factory used by a number of industries during the post-war period, including a company that manufactured tin cans between 1940 and 1984.
When chemicals enter groundwater, they can emerge from the soil as vapour, and in some cases the vapour can also enter homes, posing a threat to residents.
Basement rooms may be at higher risk of vapour intrusion than above-ground rooms, simply because they are closer to the contaminated groundwater. Anyone in the Albert Park assessment area who has a basement room is encouraged to get in touch with the EPA.
Bore water in the area should not be used for any purpose, but rainwater and mains water are not affected. Home-grown produce is also safe, unless it has been irrigated with bore water.
The principle of ‘polluter pays’ applies for contamination in South Australia, but in cases such as this, where the original polluter can no longer be found or is unable to pay for to remediate the site, the site is declared an ‘orphan site’ and the EPA steps in to inform the community and undertake the necessary work.
For more information on the Albert Park assessment area is available online or by telephoning EPA Community Engagement on 8124 4216.
State of the Environment video
If you’ve been too busy to check out the 2018 State of the Environment Report, or you just prefer your content in a more visual format, then we have the perfect solution for you.
The EPA has released a 3-minute video snapshot to give you a quick rundown of the report, which is produced every five years as a barometer of the state’s environmental health.
The video release coincided with an EPA community forum that offered an opportunity for stakeholders to listen to, and ask questions of, five expert panellists.
The authors of the issues papers featured in the report – Professor Corey Bradshaw from Flinders University, Associate Professor Justin Brookes from the University of Adelaide, and Integrated Coasts Director Mark Western – were joined on the panel by SA State Manager of the Bureau of Meteorology John Nairn and Conservation Council Chief Executive Craig Wilkins.
Topics covered included aquatic ecosystems, biodiversity, coastal protection, climate change, and the role of NGOs in environment protection.
Explore the State of the Environment Report
Truckies doing the right thing
Environment Protection Authority officers monitoring trucks on major northern and southern roads recently found that most truckies were doing the right thing by covering their loads.
The EPA licences waste facilities and transporters, and Operation Cover Up was part of ongoing related ongoing compliance and enforcement.
The day-long operation was carried out in response to the amount of litter on roads, especially on the sides of Port Wakefield Road where it has been causing concern to stock owners as well as being unsightly.
EPA officers observed an average of five heavy vehicles a minute during the operation, ranging from small trucks, tippers and skip bin trucks, to semi-trailers and B-Doubles.
The drivers of the vast majority of the trucks had taken proper measures to secure, contain or cover their loads.
A total of five expiations were issued, though only one was to a licensed waste transporter, indicating that licensed transporters are doing a good job of meeting their environmental obligations.
The fine for the licensed transporter involved litter falling from the truck’s trailer after the driver had dropped a load of waste at the Inkerman landfill.
Officers also issued an expiation to the driver of an unregistered tipper truck travelling along Port Wakefield Road at Lower Light.
A significant amount of onion casings was being blown from the truck’s tray, creating a hazard for other road users.
Rocky River truck crash
About 1200 litres of diesel and 100 litres of engine oil spilled into Rocky River, south of Crystal Brook, after a B-double left the Augusta Highway late last month.
The EPA’s Emergency Response Team attended the site to assist incident controllers the CFS, providing advice on how to reduce environmental harm from the spill.
Staff traced the spill 500m downstream, contaminating water, reeds and the creek bank.
In the hours after the crash, containment socks were deployed to limit the movement of the spill, and contractors were able to remove the majority of diesel from the surface of the water.
The banks were allowed to dry out before the contaminated material was removed, in order to minimise soil loss.
The EPA has continued to work with the CFS and contractors to provide advice on the clean-up and on the long-term impacts of the spill.
Southern Quarries dust prevention
The EPA is requiring Sellicks Hill quarry operator Southern Quarries to strengthen its dust prevention measures in response to ongoing resident concern.
Bluestone and dolomite have been mined at the quarry since the early 1970s, with all mining activities at the site, including the proposed expansion, being regulated by the Department for Energy and Mining.
The quarry also requires an environmental licence from the EPA to cover the management of issues such as dust, stormwater and waste.
The conditions of this licence relating to dust were revised in 2016, with Southern Quarries required to identify potential sources of dust and take all practical steps to minimise dust leaving the site.
A number of measures have already been put in place, but dust remains a cause of concern for local residents.
In response, the EPA has directed Southern Quarries to undertake a variety of measures, including commissioning an independent dust study at the site, installing a 500-tonne storage bin at the secondary sand stockpile, and resealing the entrance road up to and around the weighbridge.
These measures have progressive deadlines ranging from 31 March for the completion of the dust study to 31 October for resealing the road.
Enclosure of other areas, such as the primary dump chute and the tertiary sand open stockpile, will be undertaken over the next 12 to 24 months.
A complete list of requirements and a timetable for their completion, along with further information about environmental regulation at the quarry is available online.
Record fine for illegal waste depot operator
A South Australian demolition and asbestos contractor has received a record fine in the Environment, Resources and Development Court for operating an illegal waste depot.
Port Adelaide Salvage SA Pty Ltd and its director Maurizio Corsaro were fined a total of $72,000 plus costs for operating illegal waste depots at two sites in the northern Adelaide Hills.
The first count related to activities at a Highbury quarry between August and November 2012.
Port Adelaide Salvage was fined $44,000 for this operation – the largest fine ever handed down in SA for an offence of this nature.
Notably, the court sentenced on the basis that the company avoided $30,000 of dumping fees through this illegal activity.
Mr Corsaro was fined another $10,000 as an individual, with the two parties sharing costs of $3850.
A second business, EM Earthmovers, had already been found guilty of operating the unlawful waste depot at the quarry and was fined more than $24,000 plus costs in August 2018.
EPA investigations estimated that between 64,000 and 137,000 m3 of construction and demolition waste had been dumped in the quarry, at the corner of Lower North East and Churchett roads.
Mr Corsaro also pled guilty to a second count of operating an illegal waste depot later at a property at Range Road South, Houghton between January and August 2015, and was fined another $18,000 plus $3350 in costs.
EPA Manager, Investigations and Tactical Support, Stephen Barry said the second offence was particularly disappointing, as Mr Corsaro was well aware of his environmental responsibilities, having already been the subject of an EPA investigation in 2012.
EPA authorised officers observed numerous tipper trucks entering and leaving the Houghton property. An estimated 1450 tonnes of waste was stockpiled at the site, including metal, construction waste and green waste.
Advice from the Country Fire Service during the Houghton investigation indicated the waste stockpile represented a significant fire risk because it was so close to native vegetation.
Mr Barry said unlicensed operations did not only pose a threat to the environment and the community.
“They also undermine the operation of legitimate waste and recycling businesses whose operators do the right thing,” he said.
Both the Highbury and Houghton sites were the subject of Environment Protection Orders, and have since been remediated at the defendants’ expense.
Environmental licence for channel dredging
The Environment Protection Authority will issue Flinders Ports with an environmental licence to govern dredging operations as it widens the Outer Harbor shipping channel.
Licence conditions are still being finalised, but will include measures to minimise the loss of seagrass and the spread of Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) and the invasive pest plant Caulerpa taxifolia from the Port River.
These conditions take into account the 85 submissions we received from stakeholders and members of the public during the consultation period at the end of last year.
Before dredging can start, Flinders Ports will be required to satisfy Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) that they can reduce the risk of the spread of POMS.
Seagrass is a vital part of a healthy marine ecosystem, and minimising its loss was a major consideration in granting the licence.
Some loss of seagrass is inevitable in an operation of this nature, but the licence conditions aim to contain it to the immediate area around the channel as far as possible.
When channel dredging took place in 2005-6, turbidity in the water was a major cause of seagrass loss because the sand stirred up blocked the light to the plants.
To combat this, dredging operations will not start until autumn and will be condensed into the shortest timeframe possible.
There will also be turbidity monitoring while work is under way, with real-time alarms and stop-work triggers if the water becomes too cloudy.
Other conditions include monitoring of seagrass before, during and after dredging, and the presence of qualified marine mammal observers to prevent harm to the Port River dolphins.
Spoil from the dredging operation will be disposed of in the gulf, at the same site as was used during the last channel widening, after it was determined that land-based disposal would be too great a risk to delicate coastal ecosystems.
Read more about the environmental licensing process for the channel widening process.
Holden closure complete
The EPA made its final site inspection as part of the closure of the GMH plant at Elizabeth in late December.
GMH was one of the first manufacturing facilities in South Australia to have modern closure and post-closure conditions added to its environmental licence, and the first to surrender its licence under the EPA’s more formalised closure system.
The closure was carefully planned, with the car maker submitting formal closure and post-closure plans to the EPA in November 2016.
When the final car rolled off the production line eleven months later, implementation of the plan began.
Closure plans typically cover demolishing buildings and other infrastructure, decommissioning and decontaminating equipment, removing and disposing of waste, managing contaminated soil, monitoring and managing emissions, carrying out community engagement and how the site will be managed after it is closed.
The site has now been handed over to new owners Pelligra, who plan to turn it into a business park.
For more information on creating closure and post-closure plans, read the guideline.
Further TCE vapour testing to take place in Beverley
A new round of groundwater and vapour testing will begin this month in parts of Beverley where the aquifer is contaminated with chemicals, including trichloroethene (TCE).
The contamination is associated with Beverley’s long manufacturing history.
In the past, chemicals were often disposed of by being poured onto the ground in the belief that they would evaporate. There were also accidental spills and leaks over the years that soaked into the soil.
Because of this contamination, the EPA has been advising residents in this area since 2008 that they should not to use their bore water for any purpose.
TCE in groundwater can also result in vapours rising through the soil and entering buildings.
A number of homes in Beverley tested positive for TCE vapours inside during the last round of assessments in 2017, and three of those with higher levels have already been fitted with underfloor ventilation systems that extract the contaminated air.
Another 13 homes were found to have lower vapour concentrations, either in internal air or under their floors. They showed levels that were not considered to pose any immediate health risk, but still warranted ongoing investigation.
These properties will be retested in coming weeks, and we have recommended that they should have ventilation systems installed as a precaution.
Seasonal soil vapour testing of the EPA’s existing network of bores in the Beverley area will also take place in February and March, and there will be another opportunity for indoor air testing for residents who did not take part in 2017.
Soil in the area is not contaminated, making it safe to eat home-grown produce so long as it has not been irrigated with bore water.
Read more about the Beverley assessment area.
Licensing for petrol stations
South Australia’s 600-plus petrol station operators have recently received a notice providing information about the requirement for them to hold an EPA licence from January 2020.
The notice invites operators to provide feedback on the fee structure for petrol station licences and to indicate how they would like to be engaged in the implementation of the new requirement.
The South Australian Government recently added petrol stations to the list of activities of environmental significance that require authorisation under the Environment Protection Act 1993, in recognition of the issues caused by aging or leaking underground storage tanks.
The new requirement takes effect from January 2020, after which it will be illegal to operate a service station in SA without the appropriate licence.
The EPA has already met with industry associations and groups, and is now inviting individual operators to take part in a survey that will help inform the design and implementation of the licensing process.
Initially, the EPA will grant a licence on application to all petrol stations currently licensed under the Petroleum Products Regulation Act 1995, and will be in touch with operators in coming months with information on how to apply.
If you are a service station operator and have not yet been contacted by the EPA, or you have further questions, please contact Tobias Hills at firstname.lastname@example.org or (08) 8204 2004.
Changes to prescribed activities under the Environment Protection Act 1993
Administrative changes to the Environment Protection Act 1993 (EP Act), Schedule 1 – Prescribed activities of environmental significance will come into effect on 1 June 2019.
Schedule 1 of the Act sets out activities that require an authorisation from the Environment Protection Authority, usually in the form of a licence.
The changes will not affect who needs to have a licence or licence requirements. The only exception is fish processing, where the trigger for when a licence is required has been reduced.
Licence fees and conditions will not change as a result of these amendments.
The amendments will:
- better reflect modern terminology;
- make it clearer when environmental authorisation is required;
- better differentiate between waste activities to simplify regulation and reporting on industry character; and
- take into account changes to the EP Act due to the introduction of the Environmental Protection (Waste Reform) Amendment Act 2017.
You can also expect to see changes to licence activity reference numbers and/or phrasing after the changes take effect.
Read a summary of the upcoming changes and further information.
For further information on this matter, please contact Doug Johnston on 8204 2027 or email@example.com.
Test your bore water this summer
Bore use is at its peak in summer, so there’s no better time to have your water tested to ensure it's safe.
The Environment Protection Authority is running its annual “It’s best to test” campaign to remind gardeners of the importance of regular testing for their bore water.
Most home bores tap into shallow aquifers, and these are the ones affected by historical contamination.
Metropolitan Adelaide has been home to a wide range of industrial activities over the years, and this has resulted in chemicals such as heavy metals, hydrocarbons, pesticides and nitrates leaching into the soil and contaminating the groundwater.
In most cases of contamination, the EPA advises people not to use their groundwater, but sometimes when the contamination is severe and widespread, a groundwater prohibition area is declared, like those in place in Edwardstown, Glenelg East, and Flinders Park.
Aquifers are notoriously difficult to decontaminate, and once they are polluted, they are likely to remain so for many years to come, so anyone who has been told not to use their bore water in the past should not start using it again.
Even if their bore is not polluted, it risks spreading the plume of contamination further.
It is safe to eat fruit and vegetables grown in areas with contaminated aquifers, so long as the produce has not been irrigated with bore water.
Deeper bores, like those typically used by councils and schools for watering large spaces, are also safe.
Container deposit review under way
A review of the South Australian container deposit scheme (CDS) is under way, with key stakeholders and the community being invited to share their thoughts.
The scoping paper, Improving South Australia’s Recycling Makes Cents, is the start of a conversation on how we can build on our success and improve the effectiveness of the CDS in recycling and litter reduction.
Introduced in 1977, South Australia’s CDS is a highly successful environmental program, reducing litter and recovering valuable resources.
Almost 603 million containers, or 42,912 tonnes of glass, cardboard and aluminium, were returned to collection depots for recycling in 2017-18.
Discussions are under way with key stakeholders to identify the issues and options that will be the focus of the review.
These stakeholder discussions and public consultation will inform a CDS review discussion paper for stakeholder and community consultation in mid-2019.
The CDS review is running at the same time as a review of single-use plastics led by Green Industries SA.
A discussion paper, Turning the tide on single-use plastic products, seeks to further the public conversation around a range of plastic products that are having a serious impact on our environment.
Both consultations run until 22 February.