2000 to 2004
In the first 6 months of the year the EPA has administered 1,844 licences and has issued 274 environment protection orders (EPOs).
The EPA received complaints from the public during March concerning polluted water and dead fish in the North Para River.
An investigation traced the source to Southcorp Wines, operating a winery on the banks of the river, which had an electrical problem with a winery effluent sump, causing about 10 mega litres of effluent to enter a drain and flow into the North Para River.
Southcorp was charged and later found guilty of causing serious environmental harm, failing to report an incident and breaching licence conditions and was fined a total of $118,000 with $21,000 costs.
The EPA continued its involvement in the Smoky Vehicles Program, in partnership with SA Police and Transport SA, to control excessive vehicle emissions by ordering mandatory repairs of unroadworthy vehicles (pictured right).
In the 12 months to 30 June, 352 vehicles were issued with defect notices.
The Myponga Watercourse Restoration Project was launched following an EPA survey which identified that unrestricted livestock access and degraded or absent riparian vegetation were having detrimental impacts on water quality within the Myponga Reservoir catchment.
To improve the water quality for the reservoir, raw water supply and the aquatic ecology, the EPA and landholders began a 7-year project targeting 62 sites within the catchment.
Works included the construction of 46 km of fencing, 24 km of watercourse, 33 stock crossings and revegetation using local native plants to create vegetated riparian buffer zones.
EPA staff plant 800 trees along a Myponga watercourse.
The EPA confronted its first major site contamination issue which was identified at West Lakes.
Following information received from the City of Charles Sturt, the EPA became aware that sewage sludge originating from the Port Adelaide Wastewater Treatment Plant had 30 years previously been distributed across some areas of the West Lakes development.
Chemical analysis of the sludge revealed that it contained cadmium.
The EPA conducted a sampling and testing program to investigate the distribution of the sludge and on advice from the Department of Human Services, informed local residents of potential health concerns from the long-term uptake of cadmium through home grown produce.
The EPA worked closely with the West Lakes Consultative Committee and regularly communicates with residents to keep them informed of the progress of the investigation and its findings – which later cleared most of the area that had been under investigation.
The Watershed Protection Office (WPO) was established to deal with the wide range of diffuse sources of pollution across the Adelaide watershed area.
The WPO worked closely with catchment water management boards, local councils, agricultural and industry groups, the general community and state government agencies, to raise awareness of diffuse pollution issues and improved practices to reduce environmental harm.
Nicholas Newland became EPA Acting Executive Director from January 2001 until October 2002 and a member of the Board for a short period.
The EPA worked closely with WOMADelaide organisers to make the 2001 event, waste-free.
With over 75,000 people attending the two-day event the EPA allocated $20,000 to support waste minimisation, separation and recycling (pictured right).
The success of the project benchmarked waste and encouraged other event organisers to conduct waste-free events.
The EPA monitored other major events including the Adelaide F1 Grand Prix (noise impacts and waste management), Big Day Out (noise impacts) and the Adelaide Festival of Arts and Fringe Festival.
The EPA commenced an environmental management audit of 61 South Australian wineries to ensure that each licensed winery meets the standards specified in its licence. Staff worked closely with the industry to ensure the correct disposal of winery effluent.
Mobil Refining Australia Pty Ltd was convicted in the Environment Resources and Development Court for illegal discharge of oil which occurred in June and is fined $50,000 plus costs of $50,000.
The incident happened while crude oil was being transferred from a ship to onshore storage at the Port Stanvac refinery and a pressure surge occurred resulting in a broken hose coupling and leakage of approximately 270,000 litres of oil into the waters off Port Stanvac.
The oil spill was successfully cleaned up.
The EPA launched its internet-based environmental incident recording system called CARES (Complaints and Reports of Environmental Significance).
Developed in conjunction with selected councils and the Local Government Association, CARES enables councils and the EPA to record and manage environmental reports and identify repeat offenders. The IT system won a gold Technology and Productivity Award presented by the Federal Government (pictured).
The EPA launched AirWatch in South Australia which was a community monitoring and education program for primary and secondary schools. The program involved the EPA working with schools to raise awareness of air quality issues.
The ‘hands-on’ approach to science complements classroom lessons and helped students understand more about the fragile environment and the harmful effects of air pollution.
A service agreement between the EPA and Business SA was established to assist Business SA to deliver effective environmental services to its members.
On 1 July, the EPA became a separate administering agency with its own Chief Executive.
This was followed, later in the year, with a revamped Environment Protection Act 1993 that increased the powers and level of independence for the EPA’s managing Board (formally the Authority).
The restructure also saw the Radiation Protection Division (formerly operating within the Environmental Health Branch in the Department of Human Services) move to the EPA with responsibility for administration of the Radiation Protection and Control Act 1982.
In August, the government announced major reforms to EPA licensing including a 100% increase in fees phased in over four years, the introduction of additional financial incentives to encourage improved environmental performance and an increased use of load based licensing.
The new fee structure initially increased the amount a company pays for a licence by 25% a year for 4 years, while cutting the fees as the pollution load decreases.
Dr Paul Vogel was appointed EPA Chief Executive in September and also appointed to the position of Chair of the EPA Board when Stephen Walsh resigns from the position at the end of 2003.
Environment Minister John Hill (left) with
newly appointed EPA Chief Executive Dr Paul Vogel.
The South Australian Environment Protection (Motor Vehicle Fuel Quality) Policy 2002 was confirmed, providing South Australia with some of the most stringent fuel standards in Australia.
The interim Environment Protection Policy was superseded when Commonwealth fuel standards come into effect in 2006.
In April, the 6-member Environment Protection Authority was replaced by a 9-member EPA Board with more clearly defined functions.
Zero Waste SA was established and becomes operational from 26 June, to increase waste avoidance and recycling and cut the amount of waste to landfill.
On 1 July, the Office of Zero Waste SA was proclaimed a statutory authority with legislation to create Zero Waste SA scheduled to be passed in February 2004. Its Chief Executive is Vaughan Levitzke (right).
The EPA maintained its predominantly regulatory role in waste management, while Zero Waste SA was assigned responsibility for promoting waste management practices that minimise waste and its consignment to landfill, advancing the development of resource recovery and recycling.
The new electronic licensing system—e-ELF (electronic–Environment Licensing Forms) became operational. This facility enables EPA clients to renew their licences electronically 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The system also has e-commerce capabilities, allowing the secure payment of invoices on-line, by using a credit card.
The Environment Protection (Water Quality) Policy 2003 came into effect on 1 October, to achieve sustainable management of the State’s water bodies and protect or enhance water quality while allowing economic and social development.
The 2003 State of the Environment Report was released in November detailing the environmental trends and challenges facing South Australia.
Flavoured milk and pure fruit juice containers (less than 1 litre), non-carbonated soft drink containers (up to and including 3 litres) were added to the Container Deposit scheme as refundable items.
The EPA launched an audit of both licensed and unlicensed premises that could potentially present an environmental risk to the River Torrens, which was prompted by a major diesel spill into the Torrens Lake in July.
Ongoing concerns about red dust emissions from OneSteel’s Whyalla steelworks led the EPA to increase regulation of the operations and impose a condition of licence stipulating that dust measured at a specified monitoring station should not exceed the national standard.
As a result of OneSteel ultimately achieving the national standard, the amenity of the affected area was improved.
The first full audit of radioactive material to be conducted in Australia found that radioactive waste in South Australia is safe, secure and not a public health risk.
The audit was the most comprehensive assessment of radioactive waste storage to be conducted in Australia. The EPA begins working with owners of radioactive waste to improve the safety and security of their stored material.
The EPA began its River Murray Risk Assessment for properties, houseboats and shacks from Murray Bridge to Wellington. The assessment examined potential hazards such as sewerage systems, stormwater, boats and farms, and determines the likely risk of damage to the river ecosystem and drinking water supplies.
From left, Belinda Hemer (SA Water), Bethany Hammond
(EPA Water Quality Risk Assessment Officer),
Luke Mosley (EPA Senior Environmental Adviser)
and Veronica Phillips (GIS Contactor).
The EPA introduced new odour detecting and measuring equipment known as a Nasal Ranger Field Olfactormeter which can measure and quantify odour strength in the ambient air (picture left).
The device is used as a proactive monitoring and enforcement tool for odour measurement, as it determines ambient Dilution to Threshold (D/T) values objectively.
The Stormwater Pollution Prevention program was launched and jointly funded by the EPA, Torrens, Patawalonga, Northern Adelaide and Barossa Catchment Water Management Boards and metropolitan councils. EPA project officers visit unlicensed businesses, conduct environmental site reviews and encourage best stormwater management practices.
The EPA joined forces with the Environment and Conservation portfolio, Catchment Water Management Boards and SA Water to help change the way that South Australians think about precious water resources. The WaterCare public awareness campaign raises awareness of South Australia’s water issues and encourages the community to use water responsibly.
The EPA issued 79 Environment Protection Orders for the year, conducts 30 investigations into pollution incidents, with six matters prosecuted in the Environment, Resources and Development Court, resulting in five guilty verdicts.