Environment consultant fined for providing misleading information

An environment consulting business has been fined for allegedly providing false and misleading information to the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

The EPA has fined Aurora Environmental Consulting Pty Ltd $8,000 after an EPA officer discovered a stockpile of gravel waste at a Port Kembla business in February had been allegedly falsely classified.

The waste had been classified by Aurora as construction and demolition material, when it should have been declared as waste, avoiding disposal fees and potentially contaminating the environment.

A waste classification report prepared by Aurora stated there was up to 100m3 of crushed blue metal sourced from a service station in East Corrimal, which was suitable for reuse. No sampling was done to determine whether the waste was fit for reuse.

The EPA found that rather than being clean gravel material, it had been excavated from near an underground fuel tank and could potentially be contaminated.

EPA Director Regulatory Operations Jacinta Hanemann said the waste report was misleading and failed to meet EPA guidelines which were in place to protect both the environment and the community.

“This false classification led to the waste being sent to an industrial site that couldn’t lawfully receive it, meaning the waste had the potential to contaminate the site and harm the environment,” Ms Hanemann said.

“The waste gravel was from the fuel tank pit of a service station. It was only assessed visually by the environment consultant, but it should have been sampled and analysed for pollutants.

“Aurora classified the waste as suitable for re-use – it was not.”

The stockpile has been spread on the industrial site as ground cover. The EPA is requiring an assessment of the area where the gravel was spread to check for possible contamination.

“It’s critical that environment consultants and others classifying wastes for reuse or disposal comply with the guidelines. They are being relied on for their expertise and advice and should know the harm that could be caused to the environment if materials such as waste are not properly checked and classified.”

Penalty notices are one of several 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 on the EPA website.