Campaigns and investigations

To ensure pesticides are used safely and effectively, the EPA regularly runs campaigns and investigations. Campaigns focus on educating people about the correct use of pesticides. The EPA also investigates allegations of pesticide misuse and determines whether further compliance and enforcement action is needed.

The EPA has a comprehensive program of pesticides campaigns targeting diverse industry groups statewide. These include

  • EPA-licensed pesticides users: pest management technicians, fumigators, aerial operators and unmanned aerial vehicles
  • farmers and market gardeners
  • marinas
  • turf growers
  • sectors that use other chemicals such as dry cleaners

Campaigns identify people who are breaking the laws. Action includes

  • providing information to help licensees to understand their legislative obligations
  • education to encourage behavioural change
  • taking regulatory action if required

The key legislation for regulating pesticide use in NSW is the Pesticides Act 1999 and Pesticides Regulation 2017

EPA compliance actions

EPA authorised officers normally conduct site inspections which can be arranged in advance or undertaken unannounced. During an inspection, an authorised EPA officer may

  • interview the business owner
  • view or request specific information to be provided such as pesticide application records
  • collect samples
  • take photographs

When any breaches of the laws are identified during a site inspection, an authorised officer can

The type of regulatory action taken depends on

  • the severity of the offence
  • whether previous issues that were identified were not addressed
  • if previous regulatory action has been taken

Following inspections, the EPA will provide

  • recommendations to improve best practice
  • environmental guidance to help industry meet their legislative requirements

Information gathered during a campaign can also contribute to future EPA strategies and policies.

For more information, see the  EPA Compliance Policy.

Pest management technicians

The EPA has carried out campaigns in the pest management sector across Sydney and regional NSW. Site inspections involve

  • assessing compliance with licences and training requirements
  • checking pesticide application records
  • inspecting chemical storage areas and vehicles used to transport chemicals

Find out about Operation Buzz Off which targeted pest management technicians in Sydney in 2016.

Aerial applicators

The EPA has carried out several statewide campaigns in the aerial agriculture sector which applies pesticides to crops from helicopters, planes and drones. Inspections

  • assess compliance with licencing requirements
  • check pesticide application record keeping
  • inspect wash-down areas, waste water disposal options and appropriate storage of chemicals

Methyl bromide fumigation Industry

The EPA inherited fumigation licences from SafeWork NSW in September 2015.  Numerous compliance campaigns have since been conducted around NSW regarding methyl bromide emissions.  Te EPA is investigating working with the Australian Government to implement improvements in managing methyl bromide emissions.

Market gardeners and flower growers

The EPA has carried out campaigns across Sydney and regional NSW inspecting market gardens and flower growers to check for compliance with

  • appropriate pesticide use
  • record keeping
  • pesticide storage and training requirements

More information on a campaign targeting flower growers in Sydney in 2016

Cotton industry and impacts on bees

Bees are sensitive to many insecticides including fipronil (a neonicotinoid) which is particularly harmful. This campaign involved liaising with Cotton Australia, the Australian Honey Bee Association and NSW Apiarists Association to

  • assess the effectiveness of previous measures to address bee kills and
  • improve communication between these stakeholders to prevent further bee kills

The EPA encourages the use of the Bee Connected App which notifies stakeholders about the placement of beehives and pesticide application.

The EPA regulates the use of pesticides in NSW from the point of sale onwards, so is responsible for investigating pesticide misuse. EPA investigations assess

  • reported or detected incidents of alleged environmental harm
  • other breaches of the legislation that could harm human health or the health of companion animals

During an investigation, EPA-authorised officers gather

  • evidence of the incident to establish whether an offence has occurred
  • if there has been an offence, investigate its severity
  • identify those responsible for the offence by taking videos, photographs, collecting samples and recording witness statements and interviews
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