Company fined $15,000 for poor hazardous chemical storage practices

Failing to properly store hazardous chemical waste has resulted in Cleanway Environmental Services Pty Ltd being fined $15,000 by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) for an alleged licence breach.

An EPA inspection of the Cleanway hazardous waste management facility at Ingleburn, in Sydney’s south-west, in August 2020 found a range of alleged poor practices.

The inappropriate storage issues included incompatible waste chemicals stored together throughout the warehouse, chemicals left outside in the open, waste chemicals not accurately labelled and pallets of laboratory chemicals obstructing access to storage bays.

EPA Director Regulatory Operations Giselle Howard said the inappropriate storage of chemicals at any facility can put both the workers and the community at risk.

“A dangerous reaction, fire or explosion could have resulted from chemicals that must be stored separately mixing, should there have been a leak or a spill,” Ms Howard said.

“The risk of this happening was increased by forklift movements in the area.

“Cleanway’s obligations are clearly set out in their environment protection licence, which is designed to reduce risks associated with hazardous chemicals.

“The EPA expects Cleanway, and all licensees, to comply with the requirements of their licence to ensure the health and safety of the community, the environment and all company employees.”

Cleanway complied with the EPA directions and has since improved staff training, labelled chemical storage bays and revised chemical pick-up procedures.

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 on the EPA’s regulatory tools, see the EPA Compliance Policy on the EPA website.

*Cleanway Environmental Services Pty Ltd is a different company to the Cleanaway group of companies.