Brimbank Council is calling for the State Government to take a zero tolerance approach to the illegal storage and dumping of industrial and hazardous waste.
Illegal storage and dumping of industrial and hazardous waste, including combustible waste and chemicals, is a significant problem across the west, and poses a high risk to both human and environmental health.
Brimbank Mayor Cr Lucinda Congreve said that stronger State Government action was needed to address the problem.
“Unfortunately, the measures currently in place to prevent this illegal activity are not sufficient.
“Rogue operators have continued the illegal storage of industrial and hazardous waste. As a result our community has been exposed to dangerous toxic fires, such as what happened late last year just across the Brimbank border.
“Council does its best to take a hard-line approach to the illegal storage of industrial and hazardous waste in Brimbank – but we cannot tackle the issue on our own.
“The challenges faced are often complex and resource-intensive. Councils lack enforcement powers, which mean it is difficult for us to act swiftly and impose stronger penalties. This is state-wide problem and it needs a state-wide solution,” Cr Congreve said.
Brimbank Council will be writing to the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, the Hon Lily D’Ambrosio, the Chief Executive Officer of the Environment Protection Authority Victoria, Dr Cathy Wilkinson and the Chief Executive Officer of Worksafe Victoria, Clare Amies to advocate for a zero tolerance approach to the Industrial and Hazardous Waste sector.
A Notice of Motion to this regard was tabled at the Ordinary Council Meeting on Tuesday 19 February 2019.
Mover of the motion, Cr Virginia Tachos said that the issue of hazardous and industrial waste needed the continued commitment of a State Government-led response to improve collaboration between all agencies, impose stronger penalties and close any loop holes that allow these operators to continue to go undetected.
"The loopholes that allow rogue operators to go undetected must be closed. Mitigation and prevention has a bigger impact than cleaning up afterwards.
“Most of all, it is important that all agencies, including the EPA, WorkSafe and Council, must take a zero tolerance approach to the industrial and hazardous waste sector and send a strong message to any person or industry that it will not tolerate these illegal practices.
“Councils need proper resourcing from other levels of government to help tackle this issue. One important step would be for the State Government to make the Officer for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLE) program permanent.
“Last year, we welcomed the extension of the OPLE program till July, which assigns EPA officers to 13 councils around the state. The OPLE officer we share with Hobsons Bay is helping to achieve good environmental outcomes for the community.
“We’re asking the State Government to continue funding the OPLE program as it has so much potential to have a big impact on resolving smaller scale environmental issues,” Cr Tachos said.