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State Government acts to stop mangrove dieback
The State Government is taking action to arrest the dieback of hectares of mangroves and saltmarsh near the St Kilda boardwalk, while experts continue to work to understand the cause of the issue and consider actions to mitigate the movement of hypersaline water into saltmarsh and mangrove habitats.
The Department for Energy and Mining (DEM) has issued 3 environmental directions to Buckland Dry Creek (BDC), the company which occupies the site.
Buckland Dry Creek has been directed to stop further pumping of new water to the affected area, to address a seepage issue at the Little Para River, and to remove the water from 7 km of pond south of St Kilda.
DEM reports that millions of litres of brine is being pumped out of the hyper-saline salt ponds and that the ponds at St Kilda are expected to be drained within weeks.
DEM continues to work with BDC to see how the company can remove water at a faster rate.
The 30-km, 4,000-hectare site is complex and areas are interrelated. Managing all sections, including the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary, will be an important aspect of future remediation.
Community groups are providing useful input and DEM continues to provide public updates on the issue on their website.
The EPA continues to provide DEM with scientific support and expert advice.
DEM regulates the site under the Mining Act 1971 through the mining lease it holds with BDC.
BDC also has a licence under the Environment Protection Act 1993 for chemical storage and warehousing facilities, chemical works (salt production) and discharges to marine or inland waters, which is overseen by the EPA.
Ban on single-use plastics from 1 March 2021
South Australian legislation, banning the sale, supply and distribution of single-use plastics from 1 March 2021, is the first of its kind in Australia.
The Single-use and Other Plastic Products (Waste Avoidance) Act 2020 passed Parliament on 9 September 2020.
South Australia was also the first state to introduce deposits on beverage containers, and the first to ban lightweight plastic bags.
By avoiding waste and shifting to reusable or other more sustainable options, the ban on single-use plastics continues to demonstrate SA’s leadership in this space.
From Monday 1 March 2021 single-use plastic straws, cutlery and stirrers will be prohibited from sale, supply or distribution in South Australia. These single-use items can be replaced with reusable and compostable alternatives that do not contain plastic.
The ban applies to single-use plastic straws, cutlery and stirrers made from, or comprising, fossil fuel derived plastic or compostable plastic, which is designed to be used once, or a limited number of times, before being thrown away.
Exemptions will apply for single-use straws for people with a disability or medical need.
Oxo-degradable plastic products will also be banned from manufacture and production in South Australia. Oxo-degradable plastic products have additives which enable the plastic to break down into tiny fragments (or microplastics) rather than completely breaking down.
Green Industries SA and the EPA are working on activities to support implementation of the single-use plastics ban. This includes developing and consulting on regulations to implement exemptions, preparing guidance on the assessment of single-use prohibited plastic products and the ‘Replace the Waste’ education campaign.
The EPA is responsible for enforcing the single-use plastics ban and will respond to non-compliance by taking an educational approach initially, followed up, if necessary, with verbal and written warnings, expiations and prosecution.
From March 1, 2022 expanded polystyrene cups, bowls, plates and clamshell containers will also be banned.
Visit the Replace the Waste website and sign up for updates on South Australia’s single use plastic ban.
Radiation Protection and Control Act 2021 brings reform
The Radiation Protection and Control Act 2021 has been passed by Parliament, bringing significant reform and establishing a nation-leading framework to shift to a risk-based harms approach for the safe use of radiation.
The new Act implements national commitments made at the Australian Health Ministers’ Conference and the Council of Australian Governments to introduce a uniform national framework for radiation protection.
The Act will replace the 1982 act, and will continue to regulate activities involving radiation sources to ensure that people and the environment are protected from the harmful effects of radiation.
The Act introduces a general duty of care, a risk-based harms approach and establishes the offence of causing radiation harm. It introduces tools such as orders and expiations to enable more effective regulation.
It also reduces the administrative burden on small business through streamlining 7 separate licence categories down to 2 – a radiation use licence and a radiation management licence.
New Regulations will now be drafted to include a more risk-based approach to improve the EPA’s regulatory framework for the safe use of radiation.
The Radiation Protection Committee will provide advice on the Regulations. Once the Regulations are well progressed a decision on when the new Act will commence will be made.
The EPA regulates hospitals, dentists, veterinarians, soil analysis companies, mining companies, radiographers, radiologists, and ports under the legislation.
Port Adelaide Salvage withdraws appeal against licence suspension
A Port Adelaide demolition company has withdrawn an appeal against a suspension of its waste transport licence.
The EPA suspended Port Adelaide Salvage Pty’s transport licence for 3 years following a series of non-compliances with its licence conditions and breaches of the Environment Protection Act 1993.
EPA spokesperson Stephen Barry said the company’s authority to transport waste was suspended in October 2019 after it and its director Maurizio Corsaro operated an illegal waste depot at Highbury in 2012, and after its director operated an illegal waste depot at Houghton in 2015.
Mr Barry said the company was transporting asbestos that was not “appropriately wrapped or sealed”, putting the public’s health at risk.
“It was necessary to suspend Port Adelaide Salvage’s transport licence given the circumstances of previous and ongoing offending to protect the public and the environment,” he explained.
The suspension means Port Adelaide Salvage is not permitted to transport listed waste including asbestos during the suspension period which remains in place until 30 September 2022.
The EPA is currently investigating Port Adelaide Salvage over the alleged unlawful disposal of waste at two locations in Sedan, 100 km east of Adelaide.
Sunken yacht sparks community concern
The EPA received a number of community enquiries and complaints about diesel fumes after a yacht sank at Newport Quays Marina in January.
The EPA’s Emergency Response Team attended the site on several occasions along with staff from the Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) who placed a boom and absorbent pads around the vessel to contain pollutants.
The EPA liaised with the marina management company and the vessel owner during the incident and reminded them of their environmental obligations.
Vessel owners have a responsibility under the Environment Protection (Water Quality) Policy 2015 not to discharge pollutants, and where this has occurred must take all reasonable and proactive measures to resolve the matter promptly in an environmentally responsible manner.
The marina management company was required to provide evidence (including photographs) to the EPA of the salvage in progress and upon completion, confirming that containment measures had been effective.
The EPA was satisfied that contaminants were contained throughout the salvage operation and while odours were present, they are not severe.