EPA welcomes court judgements on waste cases
The EPA has welcomed two significant Appeal decisions handed down by the Full Court of the Supreme Court this month.
In the matter of EPA v Adelaide Resource Recovery (ARR), the EPA successfully appealed a 2015 ruling of the Environment Resources and Development (ERD) Court that ARR had not breached its licence by storing construction and demolition waste in an area that was not covered at its Hanson Road, Dry Creek site.
The Supreme Court found that on the evidence, the material in the stockpiles was waste that predominantly comprised construction and demolition material and this should have been stored undercover, as required by ARR’s EPA licence.
A conviction was recorded but a second count of storing commercial and industrial waste outside was not proved.
The Court rejected ARR’s argument that the material in the stockpiles had become “product” rather than “waste”. It found that receipt of waste with the intent to process and then sell it as a product does not necessarily mean that it has material that was no longer waste and therefore no longer subject to EPA licence requirements.
The Court ruled that it will be a question of fact and degree as to when the waste has suitably changed its character and become a product which requires consideration of whether there is an economic demand and immediate market for that material.
In a another similar case, the Full Court dismissed and Adelaide City Council (ACC) appeal and upheld a decision in the ERD Court that found ACC guilty of breaching two counts of its licence by failing to cap the former Wingfield landfill by 31 October, 2012.
A landfill cap is required to prevent pollution of water, vermin access and uncontrolled release of gas and odour.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said the two cases had reinforced the EPA’s regulatory approach to licensing and regulating waste and waste depots.
“The Supreme Court rulings send a message to industry that the EPA will vigorously pursue breaches of licence conditions through the courts if necessary,” Mr Circelli said.