EPA welcomes Asela Atapattu Director Hazardous Materials, Chemicals and Radiation
At the start of February Asela Atapattu joined the NSW Environment Protection Authority as Director Hazardous Materials, Chemicals and Radiation.
“My team’s work covers the safe transfer of dangerous goods, safe disposal of hazardous waste, keeping people safe from unnecessary radiation exposure and managing industrial chemicals and pesticides safely,” Mr Atapattu said.
A trained biochemist, Mr Atapattu has worked across risk assessment in various roles. Prior to joining EPA he was with the New Zealand EPA in Wellington leading a team that prepared risk assessments for chemicals, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and plant and animal imports.
Prior to NZEPA, Mr Atapattu worked in developing GMOs for pest management. “A group of us had started a company that was looking for innovative, chemical free, solutions for pest management, but we were impacted by the introduction of New Zealand’s tough GMO rules following the Royal Commission in 2000.”
Mr Atapattu was attracted to work at the NSW EPA for its enforcement capability and role as an environment leader and protector.
“The EPA ensures that the rules are followed and that the community and our environment are protected. We are a proactive regulator that works to deal with issues before they happen.
“I was particularly attracted to the EPA’s commitment to chemical and radiation regulation. The EPA does what it says it is going to do.”
Into the future, Mr Atapattu sees the EPA’s role being even more proactive.
“I think it’s about doing more with what we have. We need to continue being transparent, predictable and science based – it’s about our community, our environment and our economy.”
Away from work, Mr Atapattu enjoys spending his spare time with family, including supporting his son’s junior cricket team.