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EPA issues licence to Thomas Foods International
Thomas Foods International (TFI) has been granted an EPA licence to operate its new abattoir at Pallamana, northwest of Murray Bridge.
The EPA has applied a range of conditions to the licence that seek to minimise and prevent environmental harm from the meat processing operations.
The conditions require an Odour Management Plan to ensure any elements of the facility that generate odour have management measures and triggers in place to minimise impacts to the community. This is due to be provided by 16 December 2022.
An EPA-approved commissioning plan is also required before processing starts to ensure that the wastewater system is operating effectively.
The EPA will conduct frequent compliance inspections to ensure the facility operates in a sustainable manner. The new plant has been built to replace a facility that was destroyed by fire in 2018.
TFI is required to have a community engagement plan to ensure local residents are kept informed as to the progress of the new facility’s operations.
Image courtesty TFI
The initial licence covers beef processing, with an initial capacity of up to 600 head per day, and fuel burning for the boiler systems. Subsequent stages of the development will include expansion of the beef facilities and additional small stock (sheep and lamb) processing capacity. At a future stage a new rendering plant and composting facility will be constructed.
TFI will apply to add these activities to its licence, and the EPA will notify the community and provide an opportunity to comment when these applications are made.
Changes to radiation regulation on the way
The South Australian Radiation Protection and Control Regulations 2022 have been gazetted and will commence on 11 February 2023.
The Radiation Protection and Control Act 2021 will come into effect on the same day. The regulations support the implementation of the Act, which facilitates the safe and justified use of radiation and regulates activities involving radiation sources to ensure that people and the environment are protected from the harmful effects of radiation.
The updated Act introduces a general duty of care, a risk-based harms approach and establishes the offence of causing radiation harm. It also introduces tools such as orders and expiations to enable more effective regulation.
The objects of the Act are
- to protect people and the environment from the harmful effects of radiation by applying the radiation protection principle
- to ensure that radiation sources are secured against misuse that may result in harm to people or the environment
- to recognise the benefits of the safe and justified uses of radiation
- to promote the principles of ecologically sustainable development.
The regulations were drafted after extensive consultation with mining, medical and industrial businesses, professional organisations and existing holders of EPA radiation licences and accreditations.
The EPA is finalising supporting material and thanks all those involved in the completion of the regulations.
New groundwater prohibition area
The EPA will establish a Groundwater Prohibition Area (GPA) for parts of Beverley, Woodville, Woodville South, Woodville West, Woodville Park, West Croydon, Kilkenny, Findon and Seaton.
The establishment of the GPA comes after a 3-month community engagement process in which the EPA considered all submissions.
The GPA will come into effect when it is gazetted on 8 December 2022 and will be the 9th in South Australia. It prevents the taking of groundwater from the upper 3 aquifers to a depth of 45 m.
The suburbs in the GPA have a commercial, industrial and manufacturing history and the groundwater has been contaminated, including with per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), cyanide and metals such as chromium.
A Holden workshop at Beverley in the 1920s. Photo courtesy of the State Library of SA.
Not all properties with bores are registered or known, but the prohibition covers the entire area of known contamination and a buffer zone.
New EPA guideline for auto recyclers
It provides guidance on preventing or minimising the risk of harm to human health and the environment. It sets out the EPA’s expectations of industry in complying with environment protection legislation and policies.
The EPA will use this guideline to regulate the sector, such as when assessing development referrals and licence applications.
Businesses that should refer to the guideline include motor vehicle wrecking yards, auto dismantlers or recyclers, scrap metal dealers handling end-of-life vehicles, vehicle export operations and support services for the auto recycling industry, including waste oil collectors.
Dry Creek update
The most recent program of work to remove surface water from a pond at the Dry Creek saltfields ended on 2 November 2022.
Pumping began in late September and ceased after a scientific and technical assessment by state government agencies once the pond level had decreased and surface salinity measurements showed no expansion of the area of saltmarsh affected by high-salinity water.
Consequently, the EPA’s data loggers have been removed but the regular monitoring program by the Department for Energy and Mining (DEM) will still continue.
The EPA will continue to provide scientific assistance and support to DEM as required.
The EPA is proposing to extend an existing groundwater prohibition area around the RAAF precinct at Edinburgh.
The Groundwater Prohibition Area (GPA) was established in February this year in parts of Edinburgh, Direk, Burton, Salisbury North, Penfield, Paralowie and Waterloo Corner due to contamination by per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
The current GPA covers an area from the Edinburgh RAAF precinct to Port Wakefield Rd at Burton.
The proposed second stage would cover an adjoining area from Port Wakefield Rd to the Barker Inlet – taking in parts of Waterloo Corner, Bolivar and St Kilda - and would prohibit the taking of groundwater to a depth of 20 metres.
Investigations by an independent site contamination auditor for the Department of Defence reviewed transport pathways and indicated that the PFAS in groundwater is expected to continue slowly migrating towards the coast.
The EPA will be undertaking consultation until 2 February 2023 with residents, property owners and groundwater users in the proposed area. There are about 60 properties in the area.
Further information about the proposed Stage 2 GPA is available on the Engage EPA website.
Changes designed to manage local issues before they become a nuisance
The EPA is seeking feedback on proposed reforms that would help councils deal more effectively with issues that cause local nuisance.
A review of the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016, and its regulations, is undergoing a final stage of public consultation before legislation is introduced next year. The draft reforms address issues raised by councils and the community since the Act came into effect.
The changes would create a new offence related to the installation of external lights, air-conditioners and machinery such as pool pumps that cause local nuisance.
Dumped shopping trolleys, which can block footpaths, create traffic hazards and sometimes end up in waterways, would be considered litter under the Act.
Councils would also be able to require a trolley management plan from premises where abandoned trolleys are a significant problem.
Under the changes, councils will also be able to seek recovery costs for urgent litter clean-ups that poses a hazard if an alleged offender is caught.
The EPA is managing the State Government public consultation, which is open until 10 February 2023. More information, including an explanatory report.
What’s your view on the state of the environment?
The EPA is calling for public input to help shape the next State of the Environment report.
Produced every 5 years, this report collates information from multiple sources to assess and report on the condition of South Australia’s environment.
It helps us understand the pressures on our environment, what effects they might be having on our land, sea, air and inland waters, and what is being done to help protect, restore and enhance the environment for current and future generations.
As protecting the environment is a shared responsibility, the EPA is encouraging the community to become involved in the development of the report.
This could include providing photos and stories, telling us what you value most about the environment, or informing us about projects being undertaken to help improve it.
The EPA also wants to hear from people about how they think the report should be delivered.
More information is available at YourSAy.
Work to begin at new assessment area
The EPA has established a new assessment area at a small section of northern Hendon after receiving information that chlorinated hydrocarbons had been identified in soil vapour and groundwater.
The EPA is installing several soil vapour bores on roadside verges. The area fronts Sheppard Street, Paqualin Street and Tapleys Hill Road.
There are 19 properties and one vacant block in this area and all residents and property owners have been notified.
The work will help determine the composition and location of the soil vapour, the likelihood of it entering buildings and whether further action is needed.
State Government activity at Dry Creek
Work began in late September to reduce the level of water in a pond at the Dry Creek saltfields.
Pumping was undertaken based on scientific assessment by the Environment Protection Authority and the site’s mining regulator, the Department for Energy and Mining (DEM).
The EPA has been undertaking scientific monitoring and providing advice to DEM since mangrove dieback was identified at St Kilda in 2020.
This enabled the government to intervene if needed. EPA monitoring in September indicated a rise in surface salinity at one location in the salt marsh area, adjacent to Pond 6 just south of St Kilda.
Following further scientific assessment, the EPA and DEM agreed to proceed with pumping of surface water from the pond, to reduce the level of water and reduce the risk of any environmental harm.
Water has been pumped from the pond to the sea via the Bolivar outfall. Work was expected to continue for up to a month, depending on how quickly water levels reduce. The EPA will continue to undertake scientific monitoring outside the salt field to assess salinity and will provide any assistance needed to DEM in support of its activities.
Big penalties not worth the risk
The EPA has issued a warning to anyone considering setting up a landfill, transfer station or stockpiling waste without approval.
Recent court penalties have highlighted the risks involved in operating or using illegal waste depots, with D&J Holdings, the operator of illegal commercial-scale facilities at Penfield and Direk, fined a total of almost $1.2 million.
One of the companies that delivered waste to these depots was previously fined $12,600 and will pay $500,000 towards the cost of cleaning up the sites.
Other completed EPA prosecutions in recent years have involved fines of tens of thousands of dollars each for a number of unlicensed operators.
The EPA licensing system is in place to help ensure the protection and safety of the community and the environment. Licence revenue funds the cost of the EPA work in regulating companies to ensure they undertake their environmental responsibilities and maintain standards.
Unlicensed waste depots can be unsightly and can pose threats to the health of the community and the environment and cause site contamination when hazardous waste, including material containing asbestos, is not dealt with appropriately.
More information about licensing is available here. Anyone can report an incident or suspected unlicensed activity on the EPA’s 24-hour hotline on (08) 8204 2004 or online via YourEPA.
Fine for Old Red Brick Company
Belington Pty Ltd, trading as Old Red Brick Company, has been convicted and fined $24,700 in the Environment, Resources and Development Court for operating an unlicensed waste receiving site.
The EPA had charged that, between January 2021 and January 2022, the company had operated the facility next to its licensed facility at Beverley.
It said the company had been capable of receiving more than 100 tonnes of solid waste for preliminary treatment during that period. The court heard that the company knew it needed development approval and an EPA licence but continued to stockpile material.
Belington has since moved the construction and demolition waste from both sites to its new premises at Gillman.
Record penalty for environmental offences
The operators of two unlicensed waste facilities have been fined $511,000 and ordered to pay a further $680,000 to the Environment Protection Authority.
The significant penalties handed down in the Environment, Resources and Development Court on 21 September 2022 are a record for an EPA prosecution.
The EPA prosecuted D&J Holdings SA Pty Ltd, its manager Kevin Wayne Green and director Shirley Ann Moros over the operation of facilities at Penfield and Direk that received construction and demolition waste without EPA licences.
The three defendants had each been accused of seven offences - two counts of undertaking an activity of environmental significance without an EPA authorisation, two of causing material environmental harm and three of failing to comply with clean-up orders.
The court heard they had undercut legitimate operators and avoided paying the waste levy.
D&J Holdings was fined a total of $241,500, Mr Green a total of $161,000 and Ms Moros a total of $108,500.
The three defendants are jointly liable for the $680,000 payment to the EPA, which was in line with an estimate of the economic benefit they received in committing the offences. It can be used towards remediation of the sites.
EPA Acting Director Operations Steven Sergi said the penalties represented a strong deterrent for anyone considering illegal activity in the waste and resource recovery sector.
“Legitimate operators are licensed by the EPA and pay disposal fees that include a waste levy that is in place to incentivise resource recovery and reduce the volume of resources sent to landfill,” he said.
EPA image taken in July 2019 at the unlicensed Direk site.
Marine scientists learning from the past to improve water quality
EPA marine scientists are working with Flinders University researchers to study aquatic ecosystems at Coffin Bay.
The project is part of a wider study of environmental water quality in the bay and the recent dive was the first for the EPA scientists.
Previous monitoring indicated that the condition of the ecosystem of the inner sections of the bay was poor to very poor over consecutive monitoring surveys.
Investigations are focusing on nutrient pathways and sediment runoff from the surrounding catchment, including surface water and sub-marine groundwater discharges.
The scientists are taking dozens of core samples of sediment from across the bay and testing them for carbon, nutrient sources and the remnants of living organisms to determine what the habitat looked like before European settlement.
It’s hoped that understanding the conditions of the past can help set targets for water quality improvements and coastal restoration.
Marine divers taking core samples of sediment for testing.
An EPA community information session on 8 September 2022 gave the St Kilda community an opportunity to talk to government and Nexif Energy staff about noise from the Snapper Point Power Station.
The EPA licenses the station, which is one of more than 80 licensed sites undertaking activities of environmental significance on the Le Fevre Peninsula.
Many of these sites have been operating for a long time, but St Kilda residents had been reporting significant impacts, particularly at night. Night-time operations have ceased until it can be established that the power station can operate within the requirements of the Environment Protection (Noise) Policy 2007.
Officers from the EPA and the Department for Energy and Mining at the information session.
Sixteen members of the community attended the session, as did representatives of the City of Salisbury, whose boundaries contain the residents’ homes.
Latest information about the EPA’s regulation of the site.
Recognition for former EPA chief
Outgoing EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli was awarded a CRC Care Fellowship at the International CleanUp Conference in Adelaide on 13 September 2022.
The award recognises individual contribution to best practice policy and risk assessment methods for human health and environment.
Mr Circelli’s involvement with CRC Care goes back more than two decades and he is a current member of the independent organisation’s board.
It is regarded nationally and worldwide as a leading innovative research body that performs research, develops technologies and provides policy guidance for assessing, cleaning up and preventing contamination of soil, water and air.
Modernising SA’s Noise Policy
Consultation on a new noise policy will run until 23 November 2022.
The EPA has developed the draft Environment Protection (Commercial and Industrial Noise Policy) Policy 2022 after extensive review to replace the current policy released in 2007.
In addition to identified improvements over time, the introduction of the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016 requires amendments to reflect that local government is now responsible for local issues such as noise from non-EPA-licensed sources.
The redrafted policy takes into account decision-making regarding noise impacts of developments under the South Australian planning system, including the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 and the Planning and Design Code.
The development of the new policy follows a statutory process prescribed under the Environment Protection Act 1993.
There will be virtual public information sessions on 6 and 18 October and an in-person session at the EPA on 13 October.
Check out the information on how to register for these sessions and review the documents.
Message from the Chief Executive
I will be leaving the EPA on 16 September to take up the new role of Head of Recycling Victoria.
After almost 30 years working in many areas across the EPA, and 8 1/2 years as Chief Executive, I have decided the time is right personally and professionally to take up this opportunity. While we have seen a further maturing of the EPA’s delivery and approach over the years, it will of course also benefit from a new perspective and someone who can lead this highly valued organisation into what will be an exciting new phase of operation.
I will be leading Victoria’s transition to a more circular economy and looking forward to the challenges this will bring. Resource and material recovery and a more sustainable economy have been key areas of my focus at a state and national level. I will be working with many others to contribute to Victoria’s ambitious and transformational circular economy agenda, a critical element to any net-zero emissions commitment.
I will leave the EPA feeling enormously proud of what we have collectively achieved. The authority now has an envied national leadership reputation in many sectors and a record of consistently delivering on its safeguarding and sustainability mandates.
It is very pleasing to see how far the EPA, community and industry have come in recent years, all more aligned to a sustainable development agenda – an agenda that the EPA has been advocating and driving since its beginnings in the mid-1990s.
We’ve seen great change and improvement over this time in many areas; for example, general air quality, water quality and re-use, nation-leading management in dealing with our industrial and chemical legacies, as well as being national leaders in the waste and resource recovery sector. We’ve continued to ensure the best available science, policy and risk management are applied to our often sensitive and multi-faceted issues.
I’ve also been very proud to lead the transformation for greater transparency, and earlier and more effective engagement with the community and industry when undertaking our regulatory roles, particularly where public health issues are involved. Having an outward-looking, community focused approach has meant that reforms and issues are both better directed and much better accepted and implemented by regulated parties.
I am confident that the EPA’s role will only become more important, particularly as South Australia, like other modern societies, works towards transitioning to a net-zero emissions economy. The strong foundations and the trust and confidence that have been earned across our society from political, community and industry parties will ensure the EPA continues to have a critical and valued contribution to make.
I have had the honour of working with so many amazing and committed people from across the community, industry and government. I sincerely thank you and encourage you to continue your own journey to better and more sustainable practice. We have shared vision and responsibility with you to assure our highly valued environmental assets and enviable living standards are passed to our next generation in better shape.
I have had the privilege to work for many Ministers, Presiding Members and Board members, who have all been supportive of a strong and effective EPA, and I very much want to thank them, and recognise the support of the EPA executive team and our highly professional and dedicated staff.
Knowing our people, their talent and commitment, the EPA will no doubt continue to provide high quality services to industry, the community and the government for many years to come – continuing to play our part to protect and improve our environmental assets, improving wellbeing, and supporting sustainable development and growth.
Modernising Australia’s first container deposit scheme
South Australia’s Container Deposit Scheme will have its first major overhaul since its establishment in the 1970s.
A comprehensive review of the scheme shows South Australia can increase the recovery and recycling of beverage containers to boost the local remanufacturing industry and maintain SA’s leadership in this iconic and much-loved scheme.
Proposed changes include more flexible and accessible return options and new digital refund processes, in addition to cash.
There will be a streamlined and modernised governance structure and simplified participation and fees for the beverage sector.
A report based on the review suggests retaining existing return options and introducing new ones, including reverse vending machines, which are popular interstate and overseas.
As part of the review process the EPA set up a reference group in 2019 with representatives of the recycling sector. The EPA will continue to work with stakeholders to discuss governance arrangements, draft legislation and the transition to a new model.
The consultation summary report is available on the EPA website and features feedback from the public, CDS stakeholders, environmental group, industry and government.
Mount Barker smoke study
The EPA is working with the Mount Barker District Council and residents to assess the effect of wood smoke on air quality at Mount Barker.
The study will measure wood smoke particulate levels over the next year and determine whether air quality is within national standards.
There is increasing evidence that even relatively low levels of air pollution can have adverse effects on human health, particularly for children, the elderly and those with respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.
Inefficient use of wood heaters can generate large amounts of the very small particles known as PM2.5, which can have a greater impact on the lungs.
An air quality monitor has been installed at Alexandrina Rd and is capturing data on particulate matter of 10 micrometres (PM10) and 2.5 (PM2.5) micrometres. The data is available online in real time.
The EPA will publish a report on the initial 12-month study around October 2023.
Information about the best use of wood heaters can be found on the EPA website.
New groundwater prohibition area
The EPA is proposing to establish a groundwater prohibition area (GPA) for parts of Beverley and surrounding suburbs due to contamination caused by past industrial activities.
The area covers portions of Beverley, Woodville, Woodville South, Woodville West, Woodville Park, West Croydon, Kilkenny, Findon and Seaton.
The EPA establishes GPAs to prevent exposure to contaminated groundwater to protect public health.
Property owners and residents have been notified of the proposal and the EPA has been conducting assessments in the area since 2015.
The most recent EPA assessments have shown that groundwater in the upper three aquifers in the area is contaminated with a range of chemicals above drinking water guidelines.
The contaminated water is moving slowly westwards and a buffer zone for the proposed GPA takes this into consideration.
More information, including a map of the area, is available on the Engage EPA website.
Award-winning council officer
City of West Torrens waste compliance officer Adam Newton has been named Local Nuisance and Litter Control Officer of the Year.
The award, sponsored for the first time by the EPA, was presented as part of the Local Government Authorised Persons Association’s annual awards ceremony on 28 July.
The association is the only formal body for local government authorised officers who undertake activities such as local nuisance management, issue burning permits, litter control, dog and cat management and parking control.
Mr Newton was nominated by the City of West Torrens for his work as a waste compliance officer. Each year the council receives around 530 reports of illegal dumping and Mr Newton works to prevent and investigate dumping and enforce legislation.
He used GIS tools to map illegal dumping activities to enable cameras to be placed in areas ahead of predicted seasonal activity.
He established a surveillance camera program to monitor dumping hotspots, which has so far resulted in 21 expiations.
The council said Mr Newton had also improved the rate of rubbish removal by the culprit from 36 per cent in 2020-21 to 63 per cent the following year.
Mr Newton said he enjoyed finding solutions to the issue of illegal dumping.
“I like engaging with the community and helping them to learn different ways of disposing of their waste,” he said.
The EPA prize is $2000 to be used toward regulatory skills training and development.
The EPA sponsored the award to support and encourage local council authorised officers to develop and enhance their skills and maintain high standards of service in the field of local nuisance.
The EPA has renewed the operating licence for Nyrstar’s Port Pirie smelter for 12 months, with further strengthened conditions.
This includes requirements for Nyrstar to update its Environment Improvement Program (EIP) and demonstrate a focus on improving wastewater emissions.
To continue recent emissions performance, in the renewed licence the EPA has introduced a 12-month average lead-in-air goal of 0.25 µg/m³ to help drive Nyrstar towards long-term performance achievements.
Like the targets in the existing licence, the goal is not designed as an enforceable limit, although it will be a measure for Nyrstar to consider its ongoing performance and the need for further investment and improvement to its operations.
The new licence, which applied from 1 July, retains the more stringent annual average lead in air (LIA) limits that were introduced in the 2020 licence.
More information about the licence is on the EPA’s Nyrstar page.
The EPA will soon introduce a new online portal for reporting pollution, notification of incidents and requesting information.
Known as Your EPA, it is expected to be available in the next few months and aims to improve the experience for the public and businesses when they interact with the EPA.
Your EPA will allow customers to:
- Raise a case − a pollution report, an incident, or information request from any desktop or mobile device.
- Step through online forms to detail their case and attach photos, documents or videos.
- Be allocated a personalised case number for tracking the status of their case at any time.
- Receive optional SMS or email notifications.
- Interact with a chat-bot 24/7 for frequently asked questions and case updates, and to be guided towards relevant Knowledge Articles.
An EPA team has been working with the expert supplier to ensure the new portal meets the needs of the community and is incorporating feedback from surveyed stakeholders.
White Rock Quarry compliance action
Heavy rainfall recently led to sediment-laden stormwater leaving Hanson’s White Rock quarry site and entering Third Creek.
The EPA worked with the Department for Energy and Mining (DEM) − which regulates quarrying operations at the site − to determine the most effective regulatory response. DEM issued a compliance order on 20 May over the quarry’s non-compliance with its mine operations plan.
The order requires Hanson to undertake the following actions by the end of 2022:
- Prepare and implement a plan of action to reduce the amount of sediment-laden contaminants in stormwater leaving the site.
- Complete construction of an additional sediment basin, which will allow for the passive treatment of stormwater.
- Commence active treatment of water in the sediment basin using flocculants to accelerate the removal of sediment from water.
More information about the quarry’s operations is available on the DEM website.
EPA regulators in knowledge exchange
Two EPA compliance officers recently visited Trail in British Columbia, Canada, to tour a large zinc and lead smelter and meet with their government regulatory counterparts.
Trail is home to the Teck Resources smelter. It is similar in operation to the Nyrstar smelter at Port Pirie, which the EPA licenses.
Both were established in the late 1880s and are significant employers in their communities. Both have also experienced similar challenges related to the impacts of lead on blood lead levels and sulphur dioxide within the local area.
EPA Manager, Compliance and Regulatory Practice, Sophie Martin, and Environment Protection Officer Kalimna Roe-Simons met with officers from Teck and the Trail Area Health and Environment Program (THEP), members of the community and regulators from the BC Ministry of Environment.
The EPA’s Kalimna Roe-Simons and Sophie Martin (from left, in yellow) with members of the Trail Area Health and Environment Program team.
They also learnt more about the THEP home garden soil replacement scheme.
“We were keen to connect and share information and knowledge, and we also wanted to learn from experiences managing lead impacts from such operations in other parts of the world,” said Ms Martin.
“Our time in Trail will help us with our approach to develop a modern, best-practice licence for Port Pirie operations into the future.”
Both EPA staff had been pleased to see that, as in South Australia, all the Trail parties were committed to achieving good outcomes for their communities.
“The pledge from all to ensure ongoing and continuous information and knowledge exchange was a definite highlight for us,” Ms Martin added.
“We spoke about creating a network of operators, regulators, health professionals and community/outreach programmes to continue to share knowledge and experiences.”
New EPA process for certificates of title
The EPA is moving to record an interest on certificates of title in assessment areas where the EPA holds an environmental assessment report.
This will further strengthen transparency and increase the amount of information available to the community about legacy contamination.
It follows a recent Supreme Court judgement that considered the interpretation of information that should be flagged on titles beyond that directly related to specific title of land.
The change will require a positive response to one of the 23 questions the EPA must respond to within the environmental particulars in the Land and Business (Sale and Conveyancing) Regulations 2010.
It will mean that future potential purchasers are made aware of EPA assessments that are underway in an area.
Around 100 properties in an EPA assessment area at Ethelton will be the first to have an EPA interest recorded on their certificates of tile. This will be followed progressively by around 6500 additional titles in other EPA assessment areas.
Recognition for radiation workers
Radiation specialists authorised in other states and territories are now able to practise in South Australia without obtaining an additional licence.
These specialists can undertake the same activities without the need to make an application, obtain an additional licence, or pay additional registration fees. This is known as automatic deemed registration (ADR).
This gives South Australian organisations, including in the medical and industry sectors, easier access to skilled radiation staff from across Australia. It also makes it easier for South Australian specialists to work in other participating states and territories.
Before starting work in South Australia under ADR, workers need to notify the EPA by completing an online form. They must comply with the same regulatory and conduct requirements as SA licensees.
ADR ceases to apply if the worker’s home jurisdiction licence expires or is suspended.
More information is available on the EPA website.
A reminder for waste truck drivers
The EPA recently fined 8 truck drivers for failing to properly cover waste loads.
The trucks were identified during a joint operation with the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) to educate waste transporters about the need to restrain all loads to protect the community and the environment.
EPA officers worked with the NHVR’s safety and compliance officers, who perform heavy vehicle on-road compliance and enforcement activities under the Heavy Vehicle National Law.
The EPA licenses waste transporters and while it does not specify the types of covers required, transporters must comply with the Environment Protection Act 1993 and take all practicable steps to cover loads.
Waste escaping from trucks can cause can create a hazard for other drivers and a litter problem on public roads, and it can also end up in stormwater or waterways.
A civil works contractor has been convicted and fined over environmental offences at a housing development site in the Adelaide Hills.
DML Constructions Pty Ltd was found to have committed two counts of causing an environmental nuisance by failing to undertake adequate site works to prevent erosion.
It was fined a total of $9,800 and will pay prosecution costs of $4,044. It was also required to publish a public notice advising of the breaches of the Environment Protection Act 1993.
The offences occurred in April and June 2018.
EPA Board visits Port Pirie
On 9 and 10 May the EPA Board visited Port Pirie to meet with industry and community representatives and hold its monthly meeting.
The Board and members of the EPA Executive toured the Nyrstar smelter and were briefed by the staff about the current operations and its significant plans for the site.
The board also met with staff from the Targeted Lead Abatement Program and discussed its role in reducing the impact of blood lead levels in children.
Board members and EPA staff with Nyrstar representatives touring the Port Pirie
A stakeholder forum enabled community leaders to raise important local issues, including the EPA’s regulation of Nyrstar and what might be considered in its licence renewal this year. There was recognition at this forum of the work done by the EPA and Nyrstar and a commitment to continue to inform the community about the licensing approach.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said the board recognised that Nyrstar’s facility was one of the EPA’s most important regulated sites.
“Everyone’s aim is to continue reducing lead emissions as much as possible and introduce measures to ensure these can be sustained into the future,” he said.
Dairy farm visits
EPA environmental science and impact assessment officers recently visited dairy farms in the state’s South East.
The EPA has been dealing with an increase in local government referrals of development applications for dairy farm upgrades as the industry considers opportunities to expand.
While the EPA does not licence dairy farms, their operators must adhere to the Environment Protection (Water Quality) Policy 2015 and the Code of Practice for Milking Shed Effluent.
Senior Environment Protection Officer Dave Palmer taking water samples
for further testing.
The EPA officers discussed the importance of effective effluent management systems and environmental outcomes with dairy farmers looking to expand dairy production.
They also collected water samples from raw and treated effluent ponds and sent them for independent laboratory analysis.
This will help determine differences in water quality parameters between raw milking shed effluent and effluent that had been passed through a screw press treatment process, which is designed to remove solids from the effluent. The results from this data will help the EPA assess nutrient and water balances of dairy farm operations.
The cost of using unlicensed waste depots
A civil engineering and construction company will pay $500,000 for the clean-up of unlicensed depots where it delivered waste.
SEM Utilities has been convicted in the Environment, Resources and Development Court of two counts of causing an environmental nuisance and fined a total of $12,600 for offences under the Environment Protection Act 1993.
The additional $500,000 payment will be held in trust by the Environment Protection Authority for the owners to access for remediation of the sites at Penfield and Direk.
The first count in the prosecution by the EPA involved SEM delivering more than 35,000 tonnes of concrete, bitumen, brick, pavers, rubble and soil from its commercial operations between September 2017 and April 2018 to a site at Pellew Rd, Penfield.
In early 2018 this site was closed after intervention by the EPA.
The second count involved the delivery of 42,000 tonnes of waste between April 2018 and April 2019 to a site at Helps Rd, Direk.
Both sites were operated by D&J Holdings Pty Ltd and Kevin Green and neither had the required EPA licence. The prosecution of these operators is continuing.
All licensed waste and recycling depots are listed on the EPA website.
Penalty for fuel spill
BP Shipping Limited has agreed to pay a civil penalty of more than $48,000 over a hose failure that caused a jet fuel spill at Largs Bay.
The UK-registered company will pay a total of $65,319 for the penalty and technical expenses, plus almost $11,000 for legal costs.
The February 2020 spill led to multiple public complaints to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) about odours and health effects from the fumes, and the EPA said the company had not taken all reasonable steps to prevent the hose failure.
EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said an assessment of the incident by an independent environmental consultant had supported the impacts reported by the 16 people who complained or made reports to the EPA.
“After an investigation the EPA was satisfied that BP Shipping Limited had caused material environmental harm through the odours from the spilled fuel affecting the community,” Mr Circelli said.
The BP Shipping vessel British Engineer was moored at the Australian Terminals Operations Management Terminal at Largs Bay, transferring Jet A-1 fuel to the Mobil onshore terminal on 29 February 2020.
The pressurised liquid chemical hose failed at the British Engineer’s discharge point, sending an unknown quantity of fuel onto the deck of the vessel and into the Port River.
The EPA negotiated a civil penalty as an alternative to criminal prosecution.
The failed pressurised liquid chemical hose.
Clearing the air on traffic emissions
The completion of a significant air quality study on the Le Fevre Peninsula demonstrates the importance of community involvement when dealing with environmental issues.
The community panel formed for the Victoria Road Air Quality Study recently presented its report to City of Port Adelaide Enfield elected members.
The project – a partnership between the council and the EPA – was established in response to community concerns about the health impacts of traffic-related emissions.
Victoria Road is the main arterial road on the peninsula and is a key freight route. The region is home to industrial and commercial activities, port and defence facilities and residential areas, and traffic volumes have grown over time.
Community representatives collaborated on the study from the outset, and an independent facilitator managed the co-design process used to work with the group.
The process included the creation of the community panel, which had input into the selection of the 6 air quality monitoring sites. Six community members were joined by scientific advisers from the EPA and SA Health, as well as project support staff from the council and local ward councillors as observers.
EPA Director Science and Systems Keith Baldry said the findings of the study indicated that air quality was generally good on the peninsula. It found that transport-related emissions such as particulate matter 2.5 micrometres or less (PM2.5) were mostly below the national maximum standard, except during the winter when the combination of wood heater smoke and weather conditions resulted in poorer air quality.
Overall concentrations of measured pollutants were similar to those observed in other parts of metropolitan Adelaide.
“Monitoring began in March 2020 and was completed in May 2021,” Mr Baldry said.
“The start of the study coincided with the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic so there was less traffic during the lockdowns of the first few months. The study was therefore extended by several months.”
The study monitored outdoor air to analyse air quality and emissions from traffic on Victoria Road and the surrounding residential areas. Data from the monitors was streamed on the EPA website.
“One of the outcomes of the process is that a collaborative model has been developed that can be used in future for monitoring air quality in partnership with key operators and communities,” Mr Baldry said.
EPA advising on groundbreaking medical project
The EPA is working with the developer of an Australian-first medical treatment centre to manage the radiation safety and regulatory aspects of the project.
The EPA is responsible for regulating the safety of medical radiation facilities. This includes radiation safety for workers, patients and the public, as well as environmental safety.
The Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research on North Terrace in Adelaide will be Australia’s first.
Proton therapy is a precise, non-invasive radiotherapy that can destroy cancer cells with high-energy, positively charged particles (protons), while minimising damage to surrounding healthy tissue including vital organs. The technology could enable life-saving therapy for patients with currently ‘inoperable’ cancers.
The protons will be sent to treatment rooms through large gantries able to deliver the beam over a 180-degree angle with millimetre accuracy. The giant apparatus will be housed in three stories of the new building.
The centre is now under construction and is expected to be completed in 2023. The proton therapy machine will then undergo 12 to 18 months of installation and testing before patient treatment begins.
EPA officers Kavitha Srinivasan and Artem Borysenko have specialist skills in the technical aspects of proton therapy and will be involved with approving and regulating the new technology.
South East dredging begins
Major dredging works to clear sand and seagrass from the harbour at Port MacDonnell began in late March.
The EPA has licensed the Department for Infrastructure and Transport’s (DIT) contractor, Maritime Constructions, to undertake the work.
The department was required to consult with the District Council of Grant and the local community to ensure the work met community expectations.
The work is needed to ensure the safety of the harbour, boat ramp and mooring areas.
The project will include the removal of about 20,000 cubic metres of material at the harbour entrance and mooring grounds. About half is seagrass and algal material that has built up in the channel and the rest is sand that has built up at the entrance to the harbour.
The organic materials are being screened, drained and transported to the adjacent western beach. Sand dredged from the harbour entrance will be deposited for replenishment of sandy beaches east of the harbour. The newly developed screening container was trialled in late March and is being redesigned to make it more efficient.
The offshore dredge runs a pipe to the shore, where the seagrass is screened and drained before being removed by truck.
The EPA’s regulatory involvement in dredging is usually to ensure the protection of seagrass and algal cover. It has required DIT to undertake every possible action to reduce the impact of the dredging on marine life and seagrass, and to implement the most environmentally sustainable dredging methodology.
The nature and amount of decomposing organic material in the channel meant the seagrass could not be discharged offshore because it could not be guaranteed that the hydrogen sulphides created from the decomposition would not affect the near-shore environment and the crayfish industry.
More information is available from DIT.
EPA closely monitoring the Old Red Brick Co site
The EPA is working with Belington Pty Ltd, trading as Old Red Brick Company, on a plan to remove stockpiled material from the company’s site at Beverley.
EPA staff from the regulatory and engagement teams have been involved with the project and have worked to ensure that the material will be remediated at a more suitable site and will be reused and not sent to landfill.
Non-friable asbestos was discovered in the material in December 2021 and the plan now is to move it to the company’s site at Gillman for remediation.
The EPA has agreed on a plan that includes dust and noise management and engagement with the Beverley community.
Air monitoring for asbestos will be carried out when the asbestos-containing material is being removed.
Environment protection orders will remain in place until the affected material is removed, which is expected to have been completed by the end of June this year.
The EPA continues to monitor the site and undertake regular inspections for compliance.
Unauthorised depot shut down
The EPA was recently granted a court order to restrain D&J Holdings Pty Ltd and its manager, Kevin Green, from operating an unauthorised waste recovery or landfill depot.
They were prohibited by the Environment, Resources and Development Court from receiving waste at 542 Waterloo Corner Road, Burton, or any other site.
In addition to writing to more than 50 customers they have dealt with or received waste from, the company and Mr Green must display signs at the entrance to the property to advise that the site is closed and that penalties could apply to anyone depositing waste there.
“No approvals for the operation of a waste recovery facility, waste reprocessing facility, or a landfill depot at this site have been obtained from the Environment Protection Authority,” the signs must read.
Disobeying the order may constitute contempt of court, for which an offender may be liable to imprisonment, a fine or other punishment. Anyone who knows of the orders and does anything that helps or permits the company or Mr Green to disobey these orders may be similarly penalised.
In seeking the order, the EPA alleged that at no time had the company or Mr Green held a licence under the Environment Protection Act 1993 to undertake a prescribed activity of environmental significance.
Treaty on mercury
The Minamata Convention on Mercury came into effect on 7 March 2022, as part of a global move to protect humans and the environment from the effects of the toxic heavy metal.
Existing legislation and policies in South Australia already restrict mercury exposure from industrial activity, but the new restrictions and prohibitions on mercury or mercury compounds will be an important consideration for new proposals and developments.
Changes at existing facilities like smelting and roasting of non-ferrous metals, waste incineration, cement clinker production and coal-fired industrial boilers will all now be considered in the context of meeting the convention commitments.
Major highlights of the convention include:
- a ban on new mercury mines
- phasing out the use of mercury in some products and processes
- control measures on emissions into air and on releases to land and water from point sources
- regulation of the informal sector of artisanal and small-scale gold miners.
The EPA will be working with businesses and planning authorities to explain how they might be affected.
Planning authorities will need to be aware which activities are restricted and prohibited under the convention, in relation to new developments.
Mercury persists in the environment once released and can travel large distances in oceans and the atmosphere, even in remote locations.
In people and animals it can harm the immune system at low levels, and can affect the brain, heart, kidneys and lungs.
The Minamata Convention addresses the life cycle of mercury from its entry into the environment in products or emissions from industrial processes, through to waste management and storage.
More information can be found online on the EPA website.
If you have questions about how your facility needs to comply with the Minamata Convention, email or call 8204 2004.
Adapting to climate change
The EPA released its first position statement on its role in climate change adaptation last month.
It includes a clear and robust regulatory framework to help businesses become more resilient, prepare for more frequent extreme weather events and reduce waste to enable the advantages of a more circular economy.
A circular economy that keeps material resources in use for as long as possible can reduce dependence on new raw materials, reduce waste and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
The statement outlines the action the EPA will take to help licensees build resilience in adapting to climate change.
Protecting the environment from the effects of climate change.
The EPA is working with businesses licensed under the Environment Protection Act 1993 to help them understand climate change risk and liabilities. It will prioritise licences exposed to climate-related changes for review and/or support.
The EPA will continue to focus effort on a clear, transparent and robust regulatory framework that incentivises innovation to reduce waste and encourage greater reuse and recycling of materials.
The EPA role statement sets out how it will support adaptation to 2025, contributing to the State Government Climate Change Action Plan.
World Water Day – Groundwater: making the invisible visible
South Australians rely on groundwater, yet many of us know little about this hidden – and valuable – source of water.
In marking World Water Day on 22 March 2022, the United Nations reminded all water users of the need to sustainably manage groundwater, which comprises most of the planet’s liquid fresh water.
Groundwater is found in underground aquifers, which in South Australia range from local bores to the Blue Lake at Mount Gambier. Australia’s largest aquifer is the Great Artesian Basin, which sits underneath about 20 per cent of the continent and half of South Australia.
SA's Blue Lake is fed by underground aquifers.
The EPA monitors and reports on groundwater quality as part of its work to protect South Australian waters from the adverse effects of pollution. It also regulates parties who have caused groundwater pollution through past chemical handling practices, and where there is no person considered liable, it undertakes this work to ensure communities are safe.
Meet some of our water scientists who monitors and assesses groundwater pollution.
Additional groundwater sampling at Woodville
The EPA is conducting further groundwater assessments at Woodville to establish the extent of a proposed groundwater prohibition area.
Work is planned to begin in mid-March 2022 and will provide additional seasonal information about groundwater in the area, which is focused on a site on Port Road that carried out electroplating between 1950 and 1990.
The EPA has been communicating with residents and businesses and undertaking environmental assessments in the area since May 2019.
In October 2019 the EPA advised that, as a result of the former industrial activities, groundwater (bore water) was contaminated with hexavalent chromium (CrVI) and per- and poly- fluroalkyl substances (PFAS) and should not be used for any purpose.
The chemicals are not a health risk to residents unless they are using bore water.
When this assessment is complete the EPA will provide another update and undertake community consultation on the proposal to establish a groundwater prohibition area.
More information is available at the EPA website, including previous community updates and a map.
EPA staff checking the groundwater wells in streets of Woodville.
Company and director convicted over asbestos offences
An Adelaide company and one of its directors have been convicted and fined for causing environmental harm over the dislodging of asbestos fibres from the roof of a building.
Aurora Property Investments, which owns the building at 7 Portrush Rd, Payneham, and one of its directors, Mr Alex Panas, had each pleaded guilty to one count of causing material environmental harm and one count of failure to notify the Environment Protection Authority.
In the Environment, Resources and Development Court, Aurora was fined a total of $24,000 and Mr Panas $12,000, plus $1,030 for EPA costs. They will also pay the $60,000 cost incurred by the EPA for decontamination, clean-up and monitoring.
It is vital that anyone dealing with asbestos seeks professional advice or visits the SA government asbestos website.
Good Life Gym was cordened off when asbestos fibres were dislodged from its roof.
Prohibition on PFAS-contaminated groundwater
The EPA has established a Groundwater Prohibition Area (GPA) for parts of Edinburgh, Direk, Burton, Salisbury North, Penfield, Paralowie and Waterloo Corner to prevent residents and workers from accessing contaminated groundwater.
Environmental assessments undertaken by the Australian Government’s Department of Defence determined that groundwater in shallow aquifers in these areas has been contaminated by per-and-poly fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
The GPA came into effect on 3 February 2022 and prohibits people from taking and using groundwater from aquifers up to 60 metres below ground.
Prohibition depths of up to 60 metres
PFAS are manufactured chemicals that were used in a range of industrial and consumer products from the 1950s, including some types of firefighting foam.
They are a potential health risk if people use bore water in the affected area over a long period of time. Using bore water for drinking, showering, washing, filling swimming pools or watering lawns, or fruit and vegetables for consumption is therefore considered a health risk.
Defence’s environmental investigation looked at the presence of PFAS on and near RAAF Base Edinburgh. There are about 4000 residential, commercial and other properties in the GPA.
Soil, mains water and rainwater are not affected. Home-grown vegetables are safe to consume provided they are not being watered by water from bores to a depth of 60 metres.
An interactive map of the area showing prohibition depths can be viewed on the Engage EPA website. It enables residents and property owners to view the area in relation to their property.
Old Red Brick Company, Beverley
The EPA is enforcing compliance issues with the owners of Old Red Brick Company, including through the Environment, Resources and Development Court, in relation to activity on unlicensed land, community complaints about dust, and the presence of asbestos in material stockpiles at the Beverley site.
A total of 3 environment protection orders have been issued since September 2021. They required the company to stop receiving, processing and storing construction and demolition waste on an unlicensed lot, and to apply a sealant to stockpiles on both its licensed and unlicensed premises.
The company was also required to develop a plan to manage and remove the asbestos-contaminated waste.
Aerial view of the Old Red Brick Company site
To provide greater assurance to residents, the EPA engaged an environmental consultant to provide independent air monitoring. The results concluded that no airborne asbestos fibres were detectable during the monitoring period.
The company has appealed the orders and the matters have been before the ERD Court, with a further hearing scheduled this month.
The company’s EPA licence to operate a waste recovery facility expired on 31 January and was renewed for 1 year only, providing greater flexibility for the EPA to ensure timely operational improvements and compliance at the site.
More assessment work at Melrose Park
The boundary of the groundwater assessment area at Melrose Park has been expanded to the north and more work is being undertaken from this month.
This work will add to the existing groundwater and soil vapour well network to see how far the contamination extends. This will determine whether a groundwater prohibition area should be established, subject to community consultation.
The contamination was discovered by the Department for Infrastructure and Transport during road upgrade investigations. It comes from chlorinated hydrocarbons, including trichloroethene (TCE) at levels that exceed drinking water criteria. TCE is a volatile chemical that can be transported in groundwater and as vapour in the air spaces between soil particles.
The EPA began environmental assessment work in the area in March 2021 and 2 stages of work have found that indoor air contamination is not likely.
Environmental contractors conducting groundwater and soil vapour testing
Bore water in the area should not be used for any purpose. More information and a map showing the assessment area can be found on the EPA website.
Celebrating EPA women in science
The United Nations marked International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February, recognising them as 'agents of change' in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.
“Science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” the UN said in a statement.
The EPA is acknowledging some of its women in science as part of this international focus.
Senior Environment Protection Officer Louise Craddock uses her skills and qualifications to help licensees and the community make environmental improvements.
With a science degree majoring in environmental management, she worked for Primary Industries and Regions SA and SA Police before moving to the EPA.
“There is a large amount of community and licensee interaction, which means seeing many interesting industries and learning a lot about how they work. This includes meeting many different people who run these industries and seeing some amazing things,” she said.
Scientific officer Ying He works on Geographic Information System (GIS) applications in environmental management and catchment modelling in water quality management.
With a PhD in GIS, she uses new technology to turn data into information.
“I am currently developing a StoryMap for our Water Science Strategic Plan using a new ArcGIS online tool - StoryMaps builder,” she said. “The new tool integrates custom maps, photos, and videos to enhance our digital storytelling.”
For senior environment protection officer Paris Bates, a day at work could involve assessing development applications, site inspections or office-based project work.
“I like to think that the smallest of improvements accumulate over time and space to improve the health of the environment. Every day I am able to contribute to these small improvements,” she said.
Paris has a Bachelor of Science in Biodiversity and Conservation and plans to take on a master’s degree.