EPA issues $30,000 in fines for unlawful transport of waste in Hunter region

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has issued two fines of $15,000 each after waste from the Singleton Railway Station construction site was unlawfully transported to a property at Nalley Creek Road, Millers Forest.

The EPA received information in May 2017 that waste was being deposited at the private property. EPA officers promptly visited the site – which does not hold a licence to operate as a waste facility – and found multiple stockpiles of waste which included excavated natural material as well as waste piles that showed a mixture of soils, concrete brick and timber. Some of the material at the site had been excavated as part of upgrade works at Singleton Railway Station. 

While the Nalley Creek Road site does hold a development consent to build a flood mound, it can only accept excavated natural material for this purpose - that is, natural material such as clay, gravel, sand or soil that is not contaminated with materials that could put the environment at risk.  

Material needs to be expertly classified as excavated natural material before it can be used under the resource recovery exemption. However, records show that that the stockpiles of waste removed from the Singleton Railway Station had been classified by an expert consultant as General Solid Waste.  The waste could not be used in the construction of a flood mound and by law must be disposed of at a licensed waste facility. 

The upgrade works at Singleton Railway Station were being carried out by British Concrete Pty Ltd, who sub-contracted the waste disposal to Craft Bulk Haulage, a trading name of Bustrix Pty Ltd.  British Concrete had received a quote of $85 a tonne to dispose of the waste at a lawful waste facility, but were offered a cheaper rate of $2 per tonne by Craft Bulk Haulage.  Nearly 700 tonnes of waste was transported from the Singleton Railway Station to the Nalley Creek Road site between 23 and 26 May 2017 by transporters organised by Craft Bulk Haulage. 

The EPA has fined Bustrix Pty Ltd $15,000 for transporting waste material to a location that cannot lawfully receive it, and also issued a $15,000 fine to British Concrete for their role in the unlawful disposal of the material. 

The unlawfully disposed of material has since been removed from the Millers Forest site and transported to a licensed waste facility. 

EPA Acting Manager Regional Waste Compliance Steven James said while the impact on the environment had been minimal, there are strict rules that must be adhered to as soon as material is determined to be waste. 

“Excavated Natural Material (ENM) needs to be carefully classified to ensure it is safe to be used, and as soon as material is determined not to fit that criteria, it must go to a licensed waste facility,” Mr James said.

“A drop in price from $85 per tonne to $2 per tonne for disposal of the waste should have rung alarm bells.  There was simply not enough due diligence done by those involved.”

The maximum penalty for a company that unlawfully transports waste is $1,000,000.

Penalty notices are one of a number of tools the EPA can use to achieve environmental compliance including formal warnings, official cautions, licence conditions, notices and directions and prosecutions. For more information about the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy at www.epa.nsw.gov.au/legislation/prosguid.htm