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Nyrstar trials publicly accessible air quality monitoring
Nyrstar has launched a publicly accessible Environmental Consultation, Reporting and Notification portal for water, dust, sulphur dioxide and lead-in-air levels in Port Pirie.
As part of their new licensing conditions from 1 July 2020, Nyrstar was required to advise the EPA and the general public of target and reporting limit exceedances, as well as making plans and reports readily available.
By 3 July, Nyrstar had developed a community reporting and notification page within their website which links to a portal providing map-based pages for the monitoring of air quality sites.
The monitoring portal provides real time and daily average air quality data (dust levels, sulphur dioxide and lead-in-air levels) from various monitoring sites located within Port Pirie community.
Cudlee Creek bushfire surface water run-off safe from contamination
Five months of testing dam water in the Cudlee Creek fireground has revealed contaminant levels from burnt treated timber in rainwater run-off collected were negligible.
Dams on 11 properties were tested for traces of the chemicals used in CCA-treated fencing and vineyard posts following the fire.
Waters were tested for the presence of chromium, copper and arsenic.
Green Industries SA were able to locate many CCA-treated pine stockpiles and mitigate surface water pollution.
Residents in catchment areas who thought their dams may have been contaminated through unidentified CCA-treated pine sources were able to have their water quality tested, at no cost, with the Department for Environment and Water funding analysis and the EPA providing technical advice to landowners.
All tests returned concentrations of copper, chromium and arsenic well below national guidelines for livestock water supply.
Murray Bridge Wastewater Treatment Plant relocation nears completion
The construction of a new SA Water wastewater treatment plant at Brinkley for the Murray Bridge area is almost complete.
An Environment Improvement Plan requirement was placed on the SA Water Murray Bridge EPA licence in 2014 when the 1970s plant neared capacity, and risks to the River Murray identified from its existing output and odour impacts to neighbours.
The preferred solution was to relocate the WWTP to Brinkley, and construction of the new facility started in 2018.
When searching for the new location, considerations were made for odour management, water reuse opportunities, environment and heritage conservation, proximity to urban areas and cost.
The new site was chosen 10km south of Murray Bridge, on Pfieffer Road, opposite to the Brinkley Waste and Recycling Facility.
The 207 hectare site includes additional land for a buffer zone around the plant.
The new plant will process 4.6 million litres of wastewater per day, and is expected to serve the expanding community for many years to come.
The Brinkley plant will also utilise the latest in processing technology, with odour management systems throughout the site, and bio trickling and activated carbon tanks boasting a 99.95% removal efficiency.
As the new plant is brought online, the original site will be decommissioned.
Some of the newer equipment on the original site will be utilised for an upgrade of the network, with the remaining areas of the site to become part of the Murray Bridge community’s plans for the development of the riverbank.
Users accessing treated wastewater from SA Water for re-use will continue to receive this recycled water, with further opportunities expected as the new plant increases the network capacity.
Disposal and reuse of septic tank sludge
The EPA guidelines covering the disposal and reuse of the material removed from septic tanks have been updated to help minimise the risk of adverse impacts on the surrounding land, water and air.
The change comes following an incident involving septic tank sludge, also known as septage, being spread on farmland in a way that did not meet general environmental obligations.
Environment Protection Authority Director Regulation Peter Dolan said some landholders accepted septage as a soil improver, but if not applied in line with EPA guidelines, it could have adverse environmental impacts.
“Septage can be applied to land if it’s not practical to take it to a sludge-handling facility, or there simply isn’t one nearby,” he said.
“If it is applied to land, it must be for the benefit of the soil, not simply for disposal.
“The updated guideline reflects changes to the Environment Protection Act 1993, under which the disposal of human wastewater or sewage to land is a prescribed activity to be managed in accordance with the guidelines provided by the EPA.
“The guideline covers both the people who transport septage and landholders who accept it, and it makes everyone’s obligations clear.
“The EPA’s preference is for septage to be taken to an appropriately licensed facility, such as a wastewater treatment plant with a biosolids depot, but in cases where it is spread on land, this updated guideline will help operators minimise the risk of adverse impacts on the surrounding land, water and air.”
The guideline provides better direction, certainty and consistency for all parties, with updated sections on obligations, land selection criteria, management of the application technique, and application rate.
It also helps industry meet its general environmental duty under the Environment Protection Act 1993 and promotes best practice management of septage transport and application.
In coming months the EPA will also be updating licence conditions for waste transporters who deal with septage.
For more information, read the EPA’s Septage management guideline (previously the Septic tank sludge management guideline)
Drone pilot resources boosted for aerial investigations
With for remotely piloted aircraft (drones) to be used for commercial purposes, an additional five EPA authorised officers recently became accredited Remote Pilot Licence certified operators.
The pilots undertook a Civil Aviation Safety Authority approved course to permit them to fly drones under commercial operating conditions.
Aerial photography and videography has become an invaluable tool for the EPA, Investigation Manager Stephen Barry said.
“To be able to view a site from up to 120m above ground level provides us with a much greater amount of documentable evidence,” he said.
“By adding another five pilots to the team of four existing pilots from various EPA fields our capacity to respond to and document investigations that require remote aerial imagery has been boosted greatly.”
The EPA now frequently uses drones in cases such as large-scale illegal dumping, where accessibility due to the size and contents of a site may make it difficult to document on foot.
Drones are also used to conduct aerial surveys of sites and stockpiles to verify the integrity of information provided to the EPA.
EPA returning of external services
As COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease across the state, the EPA will resume some services that were paused as part of our COVID-19 business response.
As restrictions were implemented from late March, the EPA continued to provide emergency response attendances, monitoring, industry regulation and minimised field services.
We were also able to continue with all non-face-to-face services.
From 6 July, all remaining restrictions on field and engagement services will be lifted, and all EPA services will resume, with appropriate COVID-9 protocols being put in place.
Visitors will also be able to attend our offices at 211 Victoria Square, Adelaide and 11 Helen Street, Mount Gambier, which will also have new COVID-19 pre-checks as part of entering the premises
We thank you all for your understanding during these challenges times and are hopeful that our state can continue to keep cases of Covid under control through remaining vigilant while recognising the threat of further outbreaks will remain .
If you have any questions regarding available services, please call us on 82042004.
EPA website upgrade
We’re pleased to advise that the EPA refreshed its website on 24 June 2020.
The new site features a simpler home page design and revised navigation to make it easier to search content.
The site was refreshed following a comprehensive review of analytics to better serve community and industry needs and expectations.
The public register and pollution reporting functions have been made more prominent, and information on current issues at licensed sites is available in the ’Community’ section.
As part of the overhaul, more than 1,300 pages of content were reviewed, with redundant pages removed and content rewritten to reduce clutter and improve readability.
The site features an increasing use of videos and graphics, with further enhancements planned.
This is the fourth version of the website for the EPA.
You can provide feedback on the new website here.
Fixed drains great outcome for business and environment
Waste water drainage incorrectly ported into stormwater drains created an easily fixed problem for a Salisbury business.
"We weren’t aware of the issue until the local council called in to investigate complaints of odour," Nice N Fresh managing director Helen Nguyen said.
Ms Nguyen said the issue occurred in mid-April this year, just as Australia’s COVID-19 restrictions were beginning to be enforced.
With further investigation, and help from the EPA, Ms Nguyen said it was found the company’s wash area was overflowing into stormwater drains, and the washing machinery had been incorrectly connected to the stormwater drains.
Over the following weeks the business undertook works to divert run-offs into their wastewater drainage, and changed the process of where they cleaned vehicles and food bins.
"We now make sure all vehicles and bins are cleaned only in the enclosed area," Ms Nguyen said.
Employees were also regularly checking to make sure drains were clear and the area remained odourless.
"I found it a blessing that we found out and were able to stop the contamination," Ms Nguyen said.
Owners washing vehicles or disposing of nutrient-rich water should check drains are correctly plumbed to waste water and not stormwater outlets to ensure they are not polluting waterways.
Operator receives $56,000 fine for illegal processing of waste
A skip bin and demolition company has been fined a total of $56,361 for the processing and storage of waste, including asbestos, at an unauthorised site at 1415 Main North Road, Para Hills West.
Destiny Contracting Pty Ltd and DeJay Contracting Pty Ltd entered pleas of guilty to jointly undertaking a prescribed activity of environmental significance without a licence on two occasions in September 2017 and November 2018 at Para Hills West.
EPA Manager Investigations Stephen Barry said the site was sorting commercial quantities of building waste, including storing asbestos, without authorisation via an EPA licence.
"Our investigators undertook an intelligence-led investigation of the site and operators involved in the illegal receipt and sorting of waste at the site", Mr Barry said.
"Whilst inspecting a shed, investigators also found several bags of varying amounts of asbestos-containing materials, and some of those bags were not sealed."
Mr Barry said although the operators had now improved the operation to regulated requirements and been granted a licence for the site, the risks to the local community prior to these actions and improvements were unacceptable.
"Unauthorised and unregulated storage and sorting of any waste in built-up areas poses multiple risks to public safety," Mr Barry said, "and when asbestos is part of this unauthorised process, the risk to public safety is substantial."
"This is a timely reminder that those undertaking illegal activity in the waste sector will be identified, and the consequences of doing so are significant."
Commercial operations observed illegally storing, sorting or dumping any kinds of waste can be reported to the EPA on 8204 2004 (Regional callers 1800 623 445) or emailed to email@example.com
Waste Tracker feedback sought for tracking improvements
Online Waste Tracker, or Waste Tracker, is a digital version of the paper-based documentation required by waste transporters to receive approval prior to transporting controlled material within South Australia or interstate.
Last year the EPA identified areas of potential improvements to Waste Tracker.
The proposed changes to Waste Tracker are:
- Removing the use of various locations for N120 contaminated soils
- Including a mandatory field for recording the type of contaminant
- Creating a defined and discreet field to record the weighbridge docket number
- Creating a defined and discreet field to record Safework SA notification numbers for N220 asbestos
Industry operators are encouraged to submit their feedback on areas of the program relating to the transport, receipt, treatment and disposal of contaminated soils and asbestos waste and how they can be improved.
The EPA is also like to find out what data and report functions are of interest or use to transporters.
To submit feedback, or if would like more information, please contact Kate Hamer on 8204 2004 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feedback is sought by Friday 17 July 2020.
GPS updates change mapping data
In the last 25 years Australia has moved – physically – as the tectonic plate our region in based on moves and ‘drifts’ across the surface of the earth.
With the movement of the plate, global positioning markers must also be moved to ensure the GPS coordinate matches the physical location.
Since data was first created in 1994, Australia has moved almost 1.4m to the NE.
The GPS coordinates are also known as Geocentric Datum of Australia (GDA), and due to the shifting of our tectonic plate the current GDA we use is shifting out of alignment and will soon be updated to GDA2020.
GDA is used for many things, including navigation and mapping, and the upgrades to Australia’s GDA have resulted in changes to the Environment Protection (Water Quality) Policy 2015.
Changes to the Water Quality policy were gazetted 7 May 2020 to update definitions in line with the GDA2020, if you notice changes in coordinates, it is to reflect the new GDA 2020 adjustments.
For more information on GDA2020 including fact sheets and transformation tools visit the ICSM website.
The online GDA2020 Forum is also available for any queries.
If you wish to receive SA GDA2020 updates directly please subscribe here.
Sedan illegal asbestos dump site now clear
Thousands of tonnes of illegally dumped building materials, including asbestos, have now been removed from 2 sites at Battens and Pipeline Road, Sedan.
EPA Manager Investigations and Tactical Support Stephen Barry said contractors had completed the work and the site is now back to close to its former status.
“The management of this site over the years has been incredibly frustrating for the EPA and the local community, with the alleged illegal dumper repeatedly failing to comply with clean-up orders,” Mr Barry said.
“We are pleased to have been able to remove 248 truckloads of hazardous waste from the community, and will be doing everything in our power to recuperate the costs of this clean-up from the alleged offender.”
Mr Barry said the overall cost of the operation was substantial, but could not expand on the total due to legal proceedings being taken against a Port Adelaide-based demolition contractor who the EPA will allege is responsible for the illegal dumping.
“In total the contractors have safely removed 3,304.50 tonnes of hazardous waste and transported it to a specially lined cell at the licenced asbestos disposal area at the Cambrai Waste Depot.
“It is a great relief to finally have this material removed from the site, and we thank the residents and organisations in the Sedan area for their patience during the unforeseen delays,” Mr Barry said.
Operating under COVID
Recent COVID-19 restrictions have created many challenges for South Australians.
The EPA has continued to operate throughout the restrictions, adhering to social distancing requirements.
Our Emergency Response Teams, Community Engagement Officers, Authorised Officers, scientists and support staff have worked around the challenges and continued to operate.
We have been in regular contact with major licensees to check on their welfare and offer any support they may require.
Some aspects of our operations have been paused or restricted due to COVID-19, but our focus has remained on providing a better environment for the health, wellbeing and prosperity of all South Australians.
We will continue to adjust to the restrictions as they change, and provide the best level of service possible while social distancing requirements remain.
Review of Noise Policy underway
The EPA is currently undertaking a review of the Environment Protection (Noise) Policy 2007 (the Noise Policy).
The policy provides the legal framework for the assessment of a wide range of noise issues, including domestic and non-domestic sources.
The Noise Policy discussion paper, which is now released for stakeholder consultation, is the result of a review of the legislation and policies used in the regulation and management of noise in South Australia.
This review is being conducted for 2 reasons.
The first is to consider noise related issues that have been raised with the EPA in recent years.
The second is to make updates required as a result of the introduction of the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016 and the Planning Development and Infrastructure Act 2016, which have changed the way that noise and land use are managed in South Australia.
The Noise Policy will need amendment in order to align with these new pieces of legislation.
Consultation is open until 5pm Friday 17 July 2020.
At the conclusion of the consultation period, all comments will be considered and summarised in the form of a consultation report.
A revised Noise Policy (draft) will then be developed and released for further, broader consultation.
Please contact Ella Langford – 8204 2071 or via email for further information.
Clarity for Energy from Waste activity in SA
The EPA has released a position statement to provide regulatory and investment certainty for further development of the Energy from Waste (EfW) sector.
The EPA Position Statement was developed with regard to feedback from industry representatives, and will provide clear direction for operators wishing to submit proposals to develop EfW activities.
EPA Chief Executive, Tony Circelli, said that the Position Statement is the latest in a series of initiatives by the EPA to support the development of new industries, support sustainable economic growth and create employment opportunities through pursuing circular economy outcomes in South Australia.
“The Position Statement is consistent with and helps achieve the resource recovery objectives set out by South Australia’s Waste Strategy 2015-2020,” he said.
Mr Circelli said: "The initiative aims to best address competing outcomes, firstly ensuring that EfW initiatives complements, and not competes with, the highly successful material reuse, recycling and recovery sector in South Australia, while providing the opportunity to further avoiding mixed waste material unnecessarily going to the landfill."
“We would like to thank all who have contributed their feedback and expertise to help form the framework.”
Full details of the Position Statement
EPA Monitor 25th Anniversary Edition
Welcome to a special edition of EPA Monitor, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Environment Protection Authority in South Australia.
In this edition we will bring you special messages from the founding and current Chief Executives and Presiding Members, reminiscing about the introduction of the EPA, and the conditions it began in on 1 May 1995, to the development of the organisation, its growth and leadership, and the ongoing commitment to provide a better environment for the health, wellbeing and prosperity of all South Australians.
25th Anniversary message from EPA CE Tony Circelli
Message from EPA Board Presiding Member Catherine Cooper
This year, while we deal with the obstacles of COVID-19, we also recognise that 2020 is a milestone year for the Environment Protection Authority.
1 May 2020 marks 25 years since the commencement of the Environment Protection Act 1993 in South Australia and the creation of the EPA as we know it today. While this anniversary milestone provides an opportunity to reflect on the achievements and challenges of the last 25 years, it also heralds the future.
More than ever, we recognise the value of a strong and effective environmental regulator as South Australian industries deal with recovery from recent bushfires and COVID-19. It is evident that we will be working on adapting to new ways of working and doing business. It is important that we have an effective, trusted environmental regulator that can help support and grow South Australian business while at the same time ensuring we protect the quality of our water, air and land.
Importantly, we need an EPA that values working with people from across the community, recognising that the scale and complexity of the challenges often require a collaborative approach to deliver effective and sustainable outcomes.
We will be looking to a future where we will need to respond to the impacts of climate change, such as more frequent extreme weather events and the transition to renewable energy, whilst continuing to safeguard our community by managing the impacts of pollution in water and air, and deal with legacy contamination from past industry practices. We also look to play our part to drive a more circular and durable economy, including with the waste and resource recovery sector, where possible unlock the potential of former contaminated land for urban development, and continue to provide for more sustainable development in South Australia.
The EPA will continue to work with stakeholders and uphold its focus on being a high performing, effective and trusted regulator for the next 25 years and beyond.
On behalf of the EPA Board, I wish to thank all those stakeholders who have worked with us to uphold the objects of the Environment Protection Act and who have provided us with input and feedback over the years. I encourage you to reach out to the EPA for advice and assistance should you need it. I look forward to continuing our work to protect South Australia’s environment.
Message from inaugural EPA Board Chairman Stephen Walsh QC
Thank you for the opportunity to say these few words on the 25th Anniversary of the Environment Protection Authority.
I recall well the steep learning curve the members of the first Board experienced. Fortunately, whilst the Authority did not then have direct control over the Department’s staff other than the few who reported direct to the Board, including Rob Thomas and Corinne Kelly, access was seamless. I was struck by the professionalism of the many highly qualified experts available to guide decisions on complex issues, as well as the Board members from diverse backgrounds who ensured that the decisions of the Board were greater than the sum of its individual parts.
I was also impressed by the guiding provision in the Environment Protection Act 1993 that in making its decisions, a precautionary approach was to be applied. This was significant. Thus, in making decisions, the burden of proof to be applied, whether in a civil or criminal context, regarding enforcement and in providing advice, was not only the balance of probabilities (civil) or beyond reasonable doubt (criminal), but tempered by the overriding statutory direction.
In the general community when addressing the effects of climate change, we so often hear the response from interested parties that ‘you can’t prove that it causes climate change’. By way of example, the debate about cigarettes was often that ‘you can’t prove they cause cancer’. Even today, some writers foster the view that ‘you can’t prove pollution is causing climate change’. Like the human body, the earth is a living, breathing body. Just as putting cigarette smoke into fragile human lungs was always, as a matter of common sense, a dangerous thing to do, so it is with the earth’s climate. Eventually, scientists proved that cigarettes caused cancer. As did fluorocarbons cause holes in the ozone layer. The smoke from the recent bushfires is still circling the planet.
A precautionary directive is and was the most positive and important directive in the Act. It should become the guiding principle of Parliament in its legislative role.
Stephen Walsh served as Chair of the EPA Board from 1995 to 2003
Message from inaugural Executive Director Rob Thomas
Beverley groundwater and soil testing extends
The EPA will commence the 7th stage of the Beverley and Woodville South groundwater and soil vapour testing this week.
This stage will take in a further 362 properties to the northwest and west of the current testing, bringing the total sample size to 1,000 properties.
The EPA has been testing the Beverly area since 2015 for historically used chemicals from past manufacturing activities in the area.
Chemical traces in the area’s soil and groundwater (or bore water) include trichloroethene (TCE), with the EPA testing along the groundwater aquifers to see if a groundwater prohibition area (GPA) required for Beverley and Woodville South.
Acting Director Regulation Mr Andrew Pruszinski said groundwater in this area is contaminated and should not be used for any purpose (mains and rainwater is not affected).
“Chemicals are known to have affected groundwater in this area, making it unsuitable for use.”
“Home grown fruit and vegetables are safe to consume, provided they are not watered with groundwater,” Mr Pruszinski said.
Both the existing and new assessment area will also include testing for TCE vapour.
Residents may see the drilling and monitoring of bores on the road verges as part of the new testing.
More information is available by phoning (08) 8124 4216 or at Engage EPA website.
Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, community meetings are not possible, but residents can register their interest for an online community information session.
Clean-up for Sedan dump sites
Clean-up is set to begin at 2 sites at Sedan, about 100 km northeast of Adelaide, where thousands of tonnes of construction and demolition waste containing asbestos were found dumped in 2017.
The sites, on Battens and Pipelines roads, were discovered after an EPA investigation with the assistance of SA Police, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and local government.
EPA Director Regulation Peter Dolan said the EPA had stepped in to remove the waste after the Port Adelaide-based demolition contractor alleged to have dumped the material failed comply with a clean-up order.
“We have engaged appropriately licensed contractors to carry out the work in order to protect the community and the environment,” Mr Dolan said.
“I can assure residents that the clean-up and transport operation is perfectly safe. Asbestos has to be inhaled to be hazardous to human health.
“This waste has been sprayed with glue, which prevents the escape of any exposed asbestos fibres and also works as a dust suppressant.
“It will be wrapped and transferred in covered trucks to a specially lined cell at the Cambrai Waste Depot, which is licensed to receive asbestos.
“Air quality monitoring is also being carried out at both sites while work is under way.”
Transporting the waste from Sedan to Cambrai is expected to take about a month, with trucks working between 8 am and 5 pm, Monday to Friday, plus Saturdays if required.
The EPA is in the process of preparing a brief for the Crown Solicitor, seeking criminal prosecution relating to the dumping of the waste and cost recovery for the clean-up.
SA surface coating sector compliance results
The vast majority of surface coating operators in South Australia have been found to be placing the environment first, with 95% of compliance with all licence conditions.
EPA Manager for South East and Campaigns Naomi Grey said it was pleasing to see the greater majority of operators doing the right thing.
“The compliance of almost all of the surface coating sector shows that the industry is taking its responsibilities to protect the environment seriously,” Ms Grey said.
Surface coating, which includes metal finishing, hot-dip galvanising and spray painting or powder coating, are covered under Schedule 1 of the Environment Protection Act 1993.
The primary risk to the environment from surface coating is the lack of appropriate bunding of chemicals and liquid waste, potentially resulting in soil and ground or stormwater contamination.
There is also a minor risk of noise and air pollution.
The EPA inspected 40 of the surface coating operators in late 2019.
Of the 520 total licence conditions carried across the sites, 28 breaches of licence conditions were found, with 13 facilities committing multiple breaches.
Of the identified breaches found, almost half were due to the improper storage of liquid waste, with 50% of those due to a lack of appropriate bunding.
“We will continue to monitor and work with operators who were found to have breached the regulations to ensure that they can operate effectively within the EP Act regulations, noting that these are difficult times for the industry during COVID-19 restrictions,” Ms Grey said.
EPA monitoring data has shown the effect of this summer’s devastating fires on the state’s air quality.
Smoke from fires and other sources of pollution raises the concentration of fine particles in the air, and can result in health problems, especially for children, older people and those living with respiratory diseases like asthma.
This graph shows spikes associated with smoke from the bushfires on Yorke Peninsula, Cudlee Creek, and Kangaroo Island, and even from those interstate, plotted against data from the previous five years.
These spikes represent several instances when concentrations of PM 2.5 particles exceeded the national standard of 25 micrograms/m3, and others where levels were not hazardous, but resulted in visible smoke haze across Adelaide and regional parts of the state.
Further testing at Albert Park
The EPA has asked landholders of 6 properties at Albert Park for access to their properties to conduct environmental assessments.
The EPA has been undertaking monitoring work since March 2019 near a site that was used to manufacture tin cans between 1940 and 1984.
Groundwater near the site, at 24 Murray Street, is known to be contaminated with trichloroethene (TCE) from historical industrial chemical use. TCE was used for metal cleaning and historic handling instructions were to tip it out onto the ground.
On 12 September 2019 the EPA established a groundwater prohibition area to protect current and future residents from contaminated groundwater in parts of Hendon, Royal Park, Seaton and Albert Park. Residents are reminded that bore water should not be used for any purpose.
Albert ParkThe EPA recently received results from a second stage of soil vapour sampling in the area and the next step will be looking at whether TCE has entered residential indoor air as vapour at the 6 properties.
In the rare instance that a home is affected by vapour contamination, the EPA works with residents to manage any potential health risk.
For more information visit Albert Park update.
The EPA is prosecuting Nyrstar Port Pirie Pty Ltd for causing serious environmental harm.
The complaint states that between 31 January and 3 February 2019 the company polluted the environment by discharging, or failing to prevent the discharge of, about 700 litres of sulfuric acid from its site into First Creek at Port Pirie.
Potential environmental harm was caused by polluting the environment and creating harmful conditions for fish and other plant and animal life in the creek.
The offence is covered by section 79(2) of the Environmental Protection Act 1993.
The EPA has implemented business continuity arrangements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The health and welfare of employees, stakeholders and community is the EPA’s priority. While the way work is carried out may change, the focus remains on providing support and guidance to industry and the community. This will help ensure that businesses can continue to operate within the Government’s social distancing requirements and to keep the environment and the community safe.
Many EPA staff are working from home. They will continue to be available by email and phone, and will also seek alternative solutions for face-to-face meetings where possible. This might include invitations to take part in meetings via video or teleconferencing.
Responses to some enquiries might take longer than usual while the most urgent and important matters are prioritised.
It is critical that the EPA’s contact with licensees continues to be effective during this time. Licensees are encouraged to contact the EPA early if they have any emerging or urgent issues or risks.
Licensees are also encouraged to continue to engage with neighbours and communities. There are many options available to stay connected, including digital platforms. The EPA’s community engagement team is available to assist with advice.
The EPA can be contacted via email or 24/7 on 08 8204 2004 and will continue to provide updates on the EPA website.
Waste now unsuitable to recycle
About 10,500 tonnes of kerbside collections stored in shipping containers at Wingfield has been declared waste after it was found to be unsuitable for recycling.
Industry experts found that it had deteriorated to the point where recycling was no longer a viable option, as the paper and cardboard were breaking down.
The EPA required KordaMentha, the receivers for failed recycling company SKM, to carry out extensive investigations into how the material might be dealt with before the decision was reached.
SKM baled together paper, plastic, aluminium and broken glass – plus the inevitable contaminants found in yellow bins – then shipped the material interstate to specialised processing centres.
Unfortunately, there is currently no technology available in South Australia to manage the bales.
It will now be sent to Inkerman, north of Adelaide, and stored in a separate section of a landfill cell. If the technology becomes available in the future to process the material, it can be recovered.
Sending the waste to Inkerman will allow the owners of the shipping containers to reclaim their property after many months of not receiving any rent.
The Environment Protection Act was updated in 2018 to give the EPA stronger powers to require financial assurances from waste companies to guard against excessive stockpiling and abandonment, similar to cases seen interstate.
Petrol station licensing
The new requirement for petrol stations to have an environmental licence came into effect in South Australia on 1 January 2020.
The EPA has received applications for 661 petrol stations across the state.
Petrol stations were added to the list of activities of environmental significance requiring a licence because of the ongoing cost of soil and groundwater contamination caused by leaking storage tanks.
While standard licence conditions now apply to all petrol station sites, fees depend on annual turnover, with small and mid-tier operators paying less than those selling large volumes of fuel.
If you are a service station operator and have not yet applied for your licence, please email or call (08) 8204 2058.
If you use bore water, it’s best to test
The EPA is reminding bore users that without regular testing, they cannot assume their groundwater is safe to use.
There are several professional, accredited laboratories that can test groundwater for a fee.
Metropolitan Adelaide has a long history of industry and manufacturing, and in the past chemical handling procedures were not as robust as they are today.
Dry cleaners, foundries, metal processors, timber processing plants, airports, landfills, refrigeration factories, petrol stations and fuel stores have all been associated with groundwater contamination.
Over the years, chemicals like hydrocarbons, heavy metals, nitrates, pesticides, and PFAS from firefighting foams have leached into the soil in some areas, and some of these, like TCE and PCE, are associated with serious human health risks.
While bore water in Adelaide tends to be used for garden irrigation or filling pools, this is enough to bring people into contact with hazardous chemicals.
Residents in a number of areas have been asked not to use their bore water for any reason, but it’s important to remember that undetected contamination may also exist.
Aquifers are extremely difficult to clean up, so once groundwater is contaminated, it is likely to remain so for many years.
If you have ever been told not to use your bore water, you should not start to use it again unless it has been tested and confirmed to be safe.
Mains water and rainwater are safe to use in areas where bore water use has been prohibited.
More information on site contamination and bore water.
More information on current assessment areas and groundwater prohibition areas.
Fire foam grace period
The grace period for phasing out fluorinated firefighting foams in South Australia ended on 30 January, and their use is now prohibited without an exemption.
Fluorinated foams contain PFAS, or per- and poly-fluoroalkalyl substances, which have also been used in a range of everyday domestic products including non-stick cookware, fabric stain protectors, and food packaging.
South Australia was the first state to ban PFAS in firefighting foams, announcing the change on 30 January 2018.
Industry was granted a two-year grace period to help it meet the requirements of the ban.
Seven sites, including large fuel stores and defence facilities, have applied for exemptions for an initial period of three years. Six have been granted, and the seventh is currently being processed.
The transition to fluorine-free firefighting foams can be a complex one at large sites, as they can have kilometres of piping to clean out or replace, and safety must not be compromised during the changeover.
The EPA is satisfied that if the sites are operated and managed in accordance with the conditions of the exemptions, it is unlikely environmental harm could occur.
All operators who were granted exemptions were required to enter into an EIP with agreed milestones to ensure the transition progresses.
Fine for illegal dumping in Spencer Gulf
A 48-year-old Port Pirie man has been fined $2000 for dumping more than 200kg of scrap metal in Spencer Gulf to create artificial reefs for recreational fishing.
The EPA received a report in June 2019 that a man had been approaching locals looking for scrap metal to use in artificial reefs.
The man was believed to be launching his boat from the Port Davis boat ramp near Port Pirie, leading EPA investigators to begin a two-month surveillance operation.
Investigators identified the boat, then located two disposal sites about 6km offshore, in 8m of water.
The boat owner initially denied being involved in artificial reef creation, but when he was shown photographs of his boat filled with old television aerials, he admitted to disposing of litter in marine waters.
He was issued with a notice to remove and appropriately dispose of the scrap metal at his own cost by 17 January, and has complied with this.
The fine is a timely reminder to fishers that creating private reefs is punishable under the law.
Material like this breaks down over time, contributing to pollution and creating hazards for other boaties.
Information from the public is invaluable in uncovering illegal reef building, and with new technology, the EPA can carry out on- and offshore surveillance to find those responsible.
If you have any information about illegal reef building in South Australia, please call the EPA on 8204 2004. You can remain anonymous.
Earthmover fined for dumping soil in wetland
An earthmoving contractor who dumped up to 5,400 tonnes of waste soil into a River Murray wetland has received a hefty fine – and will have to remediate the damage at his own expense.
Stewart Morgan, 38, of Murray Bridge East, was fined a total of $29,000 in the Environment, Resources and Development Court.
Mr Morgan pled guilty to causing environmental harm to the Tobalong Wetland, failing to comply with the requirements of an EPA clean-up order, filling land in a flood zone without development approval, and failing to remove the fill when directed by the Rural City of Murray Bridge.
Tobalong is one of the last remaining wetlands between Mannum and Wellington, and plays an important role in the health of the river, as well as providing vital habitat for water birds and a range of aquatic life.
Mr Morgan was fined $11,000 for causing environmental harm, $4,000 for failing to comply with the EPA clean-up order, $9,000 for filling land in a flood zone and $2,000 for not removing the fill, plus $2,200 in prosecution costs and $960 for the Victims of Crime Levy.
He will have to comply with the terms of the clean-up order by removing the fill and revegetating the land as wetland habitat. The EPA will also seek reimbursement of its costs of $45,000 for engaging experts to assess the damage to the site.
In December 2015, Mr Morgan’s company, SA Morgan Pty Ltd, bought a property on Jervois Road, White Sands, which included part of the western section of the wetland.
Between 22 and 26 February 2016, he excavated a road to improve access to the river, dumping the soil into the wetland, which was dry at the time but vegetated with reeds.
EPA officers attended the site after a report from a member of the public, and ordered Mr Morgan to stop work. He had already spread between 2,000 and 5,400 tonnes of soil, smothering more than 6,000m2 of floodplain to depths of between 50cm and 1m.
Experts described the affected area as being highly disturbed, degraded and compacted, and said there had been a negative impact on native fauna and flora, and local waters.
The EPA issued a clean-up order requiring Mr Morgan to engage an environmental consultant, remove the soil and restore the site to wetland habitat, and the Rural City of Murray Bridge also required him to remove the fill.
He did not comply with either order, instead proposing to leave the fill in place and revegetate the area with terrestrial plants.
Anyone planning to spread fill or undertake works on a river property should seek advice from their local council before beginning work.
In the wake of December and January’s devastating bushfires, the EPA has been working with the community and other State Government agencies to provide advice and assistance.
EPA staff attended the State Emergency Centre on a daily basis while the fires were active, are part of the State Recovery Operations Group, attend Local Recovery Group meetings and local community meetings in the Cudlee Creek and Kangaroo Island fire grounds, and have staff assisting on a regular basis at the Local Recovery Centres.
They are also working with the fire-affected areas of Keilira and Yorktown, as well as Port Lincoln following the recent flooding.
The Solid Waste Levy has been waived for people affected by the fires on Kangaroo Island, and in Cudlee Creek, Yorktown and Gawler in order to reduce the cost of disposing of large amounts of burnt material.
Water experts have provided advice on a range of issues, including appropriate locations for burial pits for dead wildlife and stock in order to prevent contamination of ground and surface water, and potential contamination of dam and river water due to fire ash.
The EPA has also been providing advice Green Industries SA on waste issues, including the disposal of asbestos and CCA-treated timber, and with SA Health and the Bureau of Meteorology on air quality messaging relating to bushfire smoke.
Read more on disposing of bushfire waste, including government-funded waste removal.