Asbestos waste crackdown

The NSW Government is cracking down on rogue construction and demolition waste operators and providing incentives for good behaviour.

In a reform package announced today, Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said stronger measures are needed to protect the community and environment.

“On the spot fines for illegally transporting or disposing of asbestos waste increase tenfold, construction and demolition waste facilities get tougher inspection and handling rules and there’s a new, heavy fine for illegally digging up landfills, Ms Upton said.

“It is a top priority that stronger penalties act as a deterrent and that waste facility operators improve the way they manage construction and demolition waste.

“By giving the NSW Environment Protection Authority stronger penalties, it can more effectively hold the waste industry to account as well as encouraging good behaviour.

“On the spot fines for illegal asbestos transport and disposal have increased from $750 for an individual and $1,500 for a corporation to $7,500 and $15,000.

Ms Upton said the reforms follow comprehensive consultation with local councils, waste facility operators, industry bodies and the community.

“Poor practices were identified particularly at a number of facilities handling construction waste. That is why there are now tougher standards and procedures to safeguard the environment and community.”

Under the changes, construction and demolition waste facilities will have tighter inspection controls and constant video monitoring, they must comply with more stringent waste storage rules and provide proof their staff are properly trained.

“There is also a new, $15,000 on-the-spot fine and penalties of up to $44,000 for illegally digging up old landfills. From now on, landfills can only be dug up in cases of emergency or with specific permission of the EPA,” Ms Upton said.

“There are also incentives for the waste industry. For example at the end of each day, licensed landfill sites are required to cover any exposed waste to ensure it does not release unpleasant smells.

“We have introduced a 75 per cent levy discount for some types of construction and demolition waste that meets specification to be applied as cover material.”

The new changes are contained in the Protection of the Environment Operations Legislation Amendment (Waste) Regulation 2018. The Standards for managing construction waste and the levy discount do not come into force until May 2019 to allow industry time to adjust.