Court orders $730k in fines for Luddenham waste crimes

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has successfully prosecuted a company and two individuals in the Land and Environment Court, fining them more than $730,000 in total for the unlawful disposal of waste and supply of false or misleading information about that waste.

The EPA brought nine charges against Ghossayn Group Pty Ltd and its sole Director George Ghossayn for a range of offences relating to the unlawful transport of more than 1,200 tonnes of waste from a demolition site in Dulwich Hill to a residential property in Luddenham in 2019.

The Court also convicted and fined Dani Geagea, the sole Director of demolition and waste removal company Masters Civil (Aust) Pty Ltd, for his role in conspiring with others, including Ghossayn Group and Mr Ghossayn, to create false waste delivery dockets.

This is the first time the EPA has brought a conspiracy charge in the NSW Land and Environment Court. 

EPA Priority Compliance and Investigations Director Greg Sheehy said that this illicit transport was done knowingly and was covered up.

“On Friday, 17 November, Chief Justice Preston handed down $734,000 in fines for the incident, including $550,000 to the Ghossayn Group, $130,000 to Mr Ghossayn and $54,000 to Mr Geagea, in addition to EPA’s investigation and legal costs,” Mr Sheehy said.

“Our investigations found that the fill transported to the Luddenham property contained 379 tonnes of asbestos waste, and a hydrocarbon called benzo(a)pyrene which we understand to be a carcinogen.

“Not only was the receipt of this waste illegal, it adversely impacted the soil at the property and posed a threat to human health and the environment.

“The Court held Ghossayn Group and Mr Ghossayn intentionally transported and disposed of the waste material, including the asbestos waste, at the Luddenham property to avoid paying waste disposal fees.

“The Court also found Ghossayn Group and Mr Ghossayn engaged others to draw up 49 falsified waste delivery dockets claiming the fill had been lawfully disposed of at a licensed facility, which were then sent to the developer of the Dulwich Hill site in an invoice for works completed.

“The prosecution should serve as a reminder to any companies or individuals believing they can falsify documents to evade disposal fees – your fraudulent behaviour will be uncovered.

“After a thorough investigation, we’re pleased to see this matter come to a close.”

Last year, the EPA also successfully prosecuted John Cannuli for the same incident. Mr Cannuli was convicted, fined $50,000 and ordered to pay over $20,000 in costs in Penrith Local Court for his role in causing the pollution of land at the Luddenham property, which he was sub-leasing at the time.

The illegally transported waste has since been cleaned up at a significant cost to the owners of the property.