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New Groundwater Prohibition Area proposed
The EPA has written to residents and property owners in parts of Edinburgh and surrounding suburbs about a proposal to establish a Groundwater Prohibition Area.
Environmental assessments by the Australian Government’s Department of Defence have determined that groundwater in shallow aquifers in these areas has been contaminated by per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
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 contaminated bore water over a long period of time.
The proposed GPA covers parts of Edinburgh, Direk, Burton, Salisbury North, Penfield, Paralowie and Waterloo Corner. Defence’s environmental investigation looked at the presence of PFAS on and near RAAF Base Edinburgh. There are about 4,000 residential, commercial and other properties in the proposed GPA.
RAAF Edinburgh Airport
Residents in the area should not use water from bores to a depth of 60 m for any purpose, including drinking, showering, washing, filling swimming pools or watering lawns, or fruit and vegetables for consumption.
Groundwater from bores in deeper tertiary aquifers, such as those used by schools and councils, is not known to be affected. 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 m.
Subject to any new COVID restrictions, there will be a community information session on 14 October where staff from Defence, EPA and SA Health will be available to answer questions. Registration is essential. Community consultation will remain open until 16 November.
Penalty for acid discharge
Nyrstar Port Pirie Pty Ltd has been ordered by the Environment, Resources and Development Court to pay a civil penalty of $35,000 over the discharge of sulfuric acid at its plant in 2019.
About 700 litres of sulfuric acid was discharged from the company’s smelter site into First Creek at Port Pirie on 31 January, 2019, with the potential impacts on the environment lasting until 2 February 2019.
Nyrstar admitted the leak had the potential to cause environmental harm to fish and other plant and animal life, which is an offence under the Environment Protection Act 1993.
It cooperated with the EPA’s investigation and has made a number of improvements to its plant and practices.
Port Adelaide shipyard convicted for licence breaches
The EPA has reminded businesses of the need to comply with their EPA licence conditions, and to ensure their staff are aware of them as they work on site.
Adelaide Ship Construction International (ASCI) was recently convicted in the Environment, Resources and Development Court and fined $25,200 for 2 breaches of its EPA licence in 2019.
The company had entered guilty pleas in August to both counts, which related to work on its slipway at Port Adelaide. ASCI employees were water-blasting the red hull of a tugboat and red liquid was seen running from the slipway into the Port River. The mesh-like bunting placed on the slipway had failed to prevent the liquid from running into the river.
The wastewater contained anti-fouling paint, which is toxic to marine life.
The EPA said the company failed to meet its licence requirement to take all reasonable and practicable measures to prevent wastewater from discharging into the river, and to ensure that all employees and contractors were informed of the licence conditions.
In his decision, Judge Durrant said his sentence must consider the deterrent effect to others, and that the offences 'go directly to the protection of the environment'.
“I consider it to be of significant concern that the shareholders and directors involved in the day-to-day operation did not appreciate the conditions and the need to comply with the licence,” he said.
“Education and understanding are important components of the protection of the environment and compliance with environmental standards.”
More information about the EPA licensing system.
Change to EPA Board summits
The EPA Board Summit will no longer be required each year, following an amendment in the Environment Protection Act 1993.
The EPA Board will now use its discretion to determine when summits will be held and when more suitable or targeted engagement processes will be undertaken instead.
The amendment to section 19 of the EP Act is part of the Statutes Amendment (COVID-19 Permanent Measures) Act 2021 and was passed by Parliament in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The amendment has been made in response to uncertainty about whether the EPA can hold face-to-face roundtable conferences due to COVID-19 social distancing requirements.
The EPA has significantly developed its engagement capability over the past decade. It has tailored engagement processes, networks and relationships with industry, other government and community stakeholders.
The need for a roundtable conference will now be based on a particular need and suitability in light of any social distancing requirements, and considered alongside the EPA’s broader policy and engagement objectives and activities.
For more information about EPA Board summits, including this year’s Board Summit on Climate Change.
Guideline for community engagement
Involving communities in decisions likely to affect them encourages good business practices and enhances an organisation’s reputation.
The EPA undertakes community engagement on a range of matters and can require organisations to do the same if there is a high level of community interest in their activities.
Businesses whose work has an impact on the environment can establish beneficial links with the community by communicating scientific and regulatory data and giving advance notice of work.
The EPA’s new Guideline for community engagement sets out what the EPA expects of businesses and provides advice on how to engage effectively.
It includes information on how to develop a community engagement plan, identify stakeholders and run a community information session.
The guideline can be downloaded from the EPA website.
Action on White Rock Quarry
The EPA and the Department for Energy and Mining (DEM) have undertaken compliance actions over runoff from the White Rock Quarry.
Sediment from the quarry entered Third Creek at Horsnell Gully after heavy rain in July, prompting complaints from residents.
The operator, Hanson Construction Materials, must comply with several surface water criteria in running the quarry. DEM and the EPA are responsible for regulating sediment discharges from sources such as the quarry.
There is also an environment improvement program in Hanson’s EPA licence that requires a range of actions to improve stormwater quality and reduce sediment discharge.
While acknowledging that Hanson was working towards bringing the site within compliance, the EPA said the company must undertake further measures to manage stormwater. This included reconstruction of a second sediment basin to capture and retain more sediment on-site.
The EPA and DEM require Hanson to continue to monitor sediment run-off and implement further measures to control run-off to the creek system.
West Lakes PFAS update
The EPA will prepare a determination report ahead of community consultation on the establishment of a groundwater prohibition area at West Lakes.
An August community update confirmed that shallow groundwater in the assessment area was contaminated with poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and metals.
Previous groundwater monitoring showed varying levels of these contaminants, so the EPA installed and sampled additional wells. These new results confirmed the contamination and residents have been reminded that they should not use bore water for any purpose.
The elevated concentrations of PFAS are most likely due to the use of sewage sludge that was spread during the development of West Lakes.
Lake water, tap water and rainwater are not affected.
For more information or a copy of the groundwater monitoring test results visit EPA Engage.
Reduced fees for olive processors
After an approach by the Australian Olive Association, the EPA has waived some licence fees for olive processors that reuse wastewater instead of discharging it to sewer.
This is an interim measure while the EPA conducts a review of the fee structure.
Senior Environment Protection Officer Tim Gubbin said amendments to the EPA’s licence fee structure would be considered during the review in order to promote the beneficial reuse of wastewater by olive processors.
“In the interim, olive processors can apply for the fee reduction where they can show that they are either reusing the water, such as for sustainable irrigation, or supplying it to another licensed operator for sustainable reuse,” he said.
“The opportunity to reduce fees is an incentive for businesses to operate more sustainably.
“Allowing partial fee relief now, while the legislative changes are being undertaken, gives the EPA a greater ability to promote use that is consistent with the waste management hierarchy, under which disposal of waste water to sewer is the least preferable outcome.”
Licence fees help the EPA achieve cost recovery for its regulation of onsite activities and encourage improved practices.
The new arrangement will reduce fees for complying processors by about $6400 a year.
Processors seeking further information can contact the EPA.
2021 EPA Board Summit
Climate change risks, liabilities and opportunities for small to medium businesses
On 21 April 2021 the EPA Board held an online summit on the theme of climate change risks, liabilities and opportunities. The summit was co-hosted by the Premier’s Climate Change Council and designed in collaboration with AiGroup.
A package of event material, including recordings of presentations from experts and industry leaders, is now available on the EPA website.
This package will be most useful for small to medium businesses seeking to understand how climate change may affect them and looking for ideas for practical action.
Topics included the financial, economic, transitional and physical risks that businesses should consider, along with practical information on data, tools and opportunities.
Informative presentations were delivered by speakers from Minter Ellison, AiGroup and the Department for Environment and Water, with case studies on how to address climate risk and liabilities provided by AGL and City of Adelaide.
In closing the event, EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli asked attendees to connect with the EPA if sector or theme-based workshops on adapting to climate change would be useful.
If you have any ideas or suggestions, please send them to the EPA.
Release of EPA Campaign Reports
The EPA undertakes sector-specific inspections to help inform and educate industry on best practice and assist in improving environmental performance, identify emerging issues and reveal opportunities for better practices.
The EPA works with key industries to help them meet their environmental obligations, and routine inspections provide an opportunity to review current practices and assess compliance against the conditions of environmental authorisations.
Information obtained during these sector-specific inspections can also be used to ensure licence conditions are suitable and appropriate.
In 2020, the EPA reviewed a total of 110 operators in the abrasive blasting, chemical works, chemical storage and hot mix asphalt preparation sectors.
The latest reports present the key findings at the inspections, actions taken by the EPA regarding non-compliances, and further actions required.
If you would like more information about EPA sector reports, please call the EPA on (08) 8204 2004 or email.
Meet our scientists – National Science Week 2021
National Science Week is Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology held in August. Meet some of our scientists who work to protect, restore and improve the environment, and to safeguard people’s health and wellbeing through the regulation of pollution, radiation and waste management activities.
Kavitha Srinivasan | Radiation Protection Officer
How long have you worked at the EPA? 2 years.
Best experience at the EPA: Inspecting a new Radiotherapy Megavoltage apparatus at a new premises, ICON Cancer Centre - the first in SA. Had a great experience in surveying the entire bunker for shielding verifications/apparatus compliance.
What is a typical day in your role? A typical day for me would be to review and approve radiation use licence applications, ionising radiation apparatus registration applications, and licences to possess applications.
How is your work making a difference in SA? My work ensures the continued protection, safety and wellbeing of our South Australian community by protecting our environment from the potentially harmful effects of radiation.
What advice would you offer someone who is interested in this career path? A quality I think is needed to pursue a career as a regulator is trustworthiness. To be an effective regulator you need to be trusted by the community that you’ll do the right thing. This not only requires appropriate powers, but you also need to demonstrate that you can use those powers appropriately with your position of authority.
Mark Hassam | Adviser Hydrogeology Site Contamination
How long have you worked at the EPA? 14 years.
Best experience at the EPA: Inspecting sites in the remote outback of South Australia after large rains had brought the country to life. It made me realise how even the most barren parts of the state will teem with life given a chance, and how important it is to protect it.
What is a typical day in your role? Site contamination is regulated on a ‘polluter pays’ principle. I review and advise on environmental reports associated with site contamination and contaminant hydrogeology. I also instruct liable parties on their responsibilities in relation to site contamination issues and regulate high-risk sites for the EPA.
How is your work making a difference in SA? I think that my work significantly improves the state of the environment for South Australia, both for our community and our flora and fauna, through persistent effort to reach end points for assessments and remediation – determining whether contaminated land is safe for future use.
What advice would you offer someone who is interested in this career path? Besides doing an environmental/hydrogeology degree, I would also recommend doing a double degree in law. Be ready to continually educate yourself.
Peter Goonan | Principal Scientific Officer (Aquatic Biology)
How long have you worked at the EPA? 25 years.
Best experience at the EPA: A good cappuccino and cake treats after finding rare and unusual aquatic invertebrates in the most unexpected creeks in South Australia!
What is a typical day in your role? Highly varied – ranging from answering urgent requests for information on issues affecting the condition of waters throughout South Australia or other matters relating to inland waters, to developing our inland ecosystem condition monitoring program, or working on several current water quality studies. Occasionally I will have to prioritise an urgent inspection or investigation relating to a spill or discharge into waters, and from there carry out an environmental harms assessment in order to minimise any further harm from an incident.
How is your work making a difference in SA? My work provides the detailed aquatic science knowledge to understand the risks and harm to aquatic life and humans caused by pollution entering our waters, which enables us to make informed decisions about the best ways to manage the pollutants in South Australian waters.
What advice would you offer someone who is interested in this career path? My role involves a mix of office and field work with a great team of water scientists. We work on a broad range of topics and locations throughout South Australia, so this career path would suit an experienced professional with a wide range of knowledge and interest in aquatic plants and animals, and how they respond to water quality and pollutants. My advice would be to get a lot of experience sampling waters in South Australia and specialising in at least one biotic group – aquatic invertebrates, fish, plants or microbes.
EPA operations during lockdown
During the current Covid-19 restrictions in South Australia, the EPA will continue to be available to respond to environmental emergencies, and undertake its regulatory work including site inspections and investigations where it is essential and safe to do so.
Our pollution reporting hotline and call centre remain open on 8204 2004. During the lockdown, our staff are currently working from home and continuing to work closely with licensed industries, other government agencies and stakeholders to support South Australian business and the community at this time.
You can find out more information about the current restrictions on the SA COVID-19 website
If you have questions about your business or any EPA matter, or want to report pollution, you can continue to contact us 24/7 on 8204 2004 or email us.
Mass balance reporting introduced
The South Australian Government is seeking to help realise the economic potential of our waste and resource recovery sector by providing modernised regulatory settings, including new reporting, record-keeping and survey requirements.
Mass balance reporting regulations were introduced on 1 July 2021 following extensive engagement and consultation with the sector.
EPA Director Strategy and Assessment Kathryn Bellette said the state wants to continue to be a leader in waste management and resource recovery, and mass balance reporting is a tool which will support this.
“Mass balance reporting (MBR) has been implemented after extensive engagement and support from industry,” Ms Bellette said.
“The waste management industry has consistently highlighted the need for improved data and reporting to establish transparency and a level playing field for all operators."
SA waste depots which receive more than 20,000 tonnes of solid waste a year are now required to report monthly to the EPA on total waste quantities by waste stream and waste types to provide information on material:
- received at the site
- transported from the site (for use, recycling, recovery, other processing and disposal)
- remaining stockpiled on-site
- used on-site
- disposed on-site (landfill facilities only).
MBR will enable the government to identify and realise better resource recovery and investment opportunities in the waste and resource recovery sector and to aid timely compliance activity on key issues of industry concern, promoting sectoral fairness and certainty. In particular, MBR will:
- monitor waste flows within South Australia, helping to:
- - identify and avoid excessive storage of waste at sites
- - identify waste promoted as ‘product’
- - avoid any illegal dumping from licensed sites.
- support review of opportunities for enhanced safe resource recovery performance at individual facilities
- underpin the operation of proposed amendments to levy collection at landfill
- further enhance the development and evaluation of effective waste policies (eg Australia’s Waste Strategy) and better inform the state’s future waste infrastructure requirements (eg input into South Australia’s Waste and Resource Infrastructure Plan and support the state’s circular economy agenda).
Increasing volumes of waste and the strong focus on resource recovery has resulted in the waste management and resource recovery industry becoming a significant component of the South Australian economy.
South Australia’s Recycling Activity Survey 2017–18 (August 2019) and South Australia’s Waste Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan (February 2018) highlight the waste industry:
- is a $1-billion dollar (turnover) industry ($500 million to gross state product)
- employs over 4,800 South Australians full time (1,657 direct, up 217 from 2016–17, and indirect)
- employs 9.2 direct FTEs per 10,000 tonnes of recycling (more labour intensive), in comparison to about 2.8 direct FTEs per 10,000 tonnes of disposal.in
It has been identified that by moving to a more circular economy there is the opportunity for further substantial employment growth in this, and in related sectors – up to 21,000 jobs by 2030 by changing how materials are handled.
The new requirements are part of ongoing reforms to support the waste and resource recovery industry in South Australia and were introduced via the Environment Protection (Mass Balance Reporting and Other Measures) Variation Regulations 2020.
A number of reference materials on MBR are available on the EPA website.
If you have any queries about MBR and how it may apply to your business email with ‘Mass Balance Reporting’ in the subject line, or call us on (08) 8204 2004.
Nyrstar’s licence renewed for 12 months
The EPA has renewed the operating licence for Nyrstar’s Port Pirie smelter for a further 12 months, with only minor changes to licence conditions.
The EPA introduced more stringent annual average lead in air (LIA) limits from 1 July 2020, effectively requiring a 20 percent reduction in emissions.
EPA Director Science & Information Keith Baldry said with the significant reduction introduced just a year ago, it was determined that the same LIA limits and targets would be required for the coming 12 months.
“It’s pleasing to note that emissions for the 2021 year-to-date show an improvement in LIA over the same period in 2020, and Nyrstar has achieved compliance with annual average LIA limits as at 30 June 2021.
“With strengthened licence conditions implemented in 2020, a new Environmental Improvement Program for LIA was established and is ongoing.
“This program is designed to drive continuous improvement across the Port Pirie smelter site and to minimise environmental emissions.
“The EPA expects continuous improvement in emissions performance from Nyrstar, and requires the company to provide an updated whole of site emissions inventory by September 2021. This will inform additional investment and works required to further reduce emissions.
“The new licence also requires Nyrstar to develop a Landfill Environment Management Plan (LEMP) by 15 November 2021 requiring changes to waste management activities on site.
“EPA staff continue to inspect Nyrstar’s Port Pirie operations regularly during the year to ensure compliance with licence conditions.”
The company’s new licensing conditions will commence on 1 July 2021. A copy of the new licence is available on the EPA website.
Fine over illegal artificial reef
An Adelaide man has agreed to pay a civil penalty after a vessel was sunk off O’Sullivan Beach in November 2018, to create an artificial reef.
David Alex Blackley has been penalised by the EPA, and has agreed to pay $8,400 for disposing of a boat into Gulf St Vincent – an offence under section 22 of the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016. Blackley was also required to pay $7,500 to a commercial salvage operator in an attempt to recover the vessel.
The penalty is the outcome of an investigation led by the EPA, with support from the Department of Primary Industries and Regions (PIRSA), South Australian Police (SAPOL) and the Onkaparinga City Council.
Evidence obtained by the EPA includes CCTV footage of Blackley launching a vessel at O’Sullivan Beach boat ramp on 18 November 2018. The footage also records another boat arriving at the ramp to tow the vessel into Gulf St Vincent. The trailer used was later found dumped at Largs North.
EPA officers subsequently searched a Largs North address, locating and seizing a fishing vessel and other items suspected of being used in the operation, and forensic analysis identified a GPS location where the other vessel was thought to have been sunk.
In December 2018, the EPA and SAPOL Water Operations officers went to the GPS location and a grid search using advanced sonar capability identified a vessel on the sea floor, nearly 15 km off O’Sullivan Beach, at a depth of approximately 30 m.
A commercial dive team subsequently surveyed and videoed the sunken vessel. The footage revealed the sunken vessel had characteristics consistent with the vessel seen on CCTV being towed at O’Sullivan Beach. EPA officers also matched the sunken vessel to a 8-m vessel sold through a Facebook advertisement.
EPA Investigations Manager Stephen Barry said the EPA is aware that some fishermen dispose of items at sea to create illegal artificial reefs for their own purposes.
“This practice may have occurred over many years, however in 2016 the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act introduced penalties for anyone caught doing this. The act also has provisions requiring offenders to pay to recover such items.
“We have heard of scrap metal, whitegoods, shopping trolleys and vessels being towed out and dumped in waters around the State.
“Sunken items can contain pollutants such as oils, greases and chemicals and pose a risk to navigation and a hazard to commercial fishing equipment.
“This also undermines authorised actions by government to create artificial reefs for habitat restoration and public recreation.”
Anyone with information about illegal disposals in the marine environment should contact the EPA on 8204 2004 or 1800 623 445 (country callers only), or email.
SA Water Murray Bridge Wastewater network
A new wastewater network and treatment plant at Murray Bridge is providing major benefits for the local community, the environment and SA Water.
The new facility replaces a plant built next to the marina in the 1970s, when Murray Bridge’s population was considerably smaller.
Moving the plant away from the River Murray floodplain and residential areas improves its environmental performance, by eliminating a previous source of odour and the potential for unplanned discharge into the river during high flood events.
Solar array at the Murray Bridge Wastewater Treatment Plant
The new plant, at Brinkley on the outskirts of Murray Bridge, is capable of treating up to 4.5 million litres of sewage a day, 2 million litres more than the previous facility, which provides for projected population and industry growth in Murray Bridge to 2041. There is also the ability to expand the treatment capacity, if required.
SA Water General Manager Sustainable Infrastructure Amanda Lewry said the plant is one of the first non-industrial wastewater treatment plants in the country to include a biological process called a ‘moving bed biofilm reactor’.
“This technology breaks down sewage in a more compact and efficient way. The resulting sludge is turned into biosolids, which is used to improve soils and crops.”
The plant also incorporates an odour control unit, with a bio-trickling filter and activated carbon tanks, designed to remove 99.95 per cent of odour.
“More than 400 ground-mounted solar panels help power the plant, generating up to 150 kW hours a day and reducing SA Water’s reliance on the electricity grid.
Like its predecessor, the facility also recycles 100 per cent of treated wastewater for reuse, with the high quality product used at a Defence Department training area and a nearby pastoral property.
“The 11.4-hectare buffer zone around the building has been revegetated with local native plant species, and tree trunks salvaged during construction provide habitat for native birds and reptiles.”
The $52-million project also included the construction of three connecting wastewater pump stations – with one also housing an odour control unit – and an additional 18 km of underground sewer mains.
SA Water’s commitment to sustainability and environmental management during all stages of the project helped it achieve the highest design rating to date for a water or wastewater project in Australia, from the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia (ISCA).
The project was also recognised during the 2020 Australian Water Association’s South Australian Water Awards when it won the regional infrastructure Project Innovation Award.
This story originally appeared in the EPA’s sixth edition of Good for Environment, Good for Business which was launched at the Board’s annual Summit earlier this year.
Automatic recognition of licences for radiation and other activities
It will soon be easier for skilled workers who need to be licensed or registered to move around Australia to take up new work opportunities using their current licence.
The commencement date for automatic deemed registration (ADR) will be different for each state and territory. Some jurisdictions commenced on 1 July 2021. A start date for South Australia is yet to be confirmed but is likely to be in the latter part of 2021.
EPA Principal Project spokesperson Tobias Hill said licensed workers will no longer need to apply for a separate licence when working in another state or territory if they have a licence that covers the activities they intend to carry out in the second state or territory.
“Regulated occupations which will be covered by ADR include those requiring an EPA licence to operate radiation apparatus and occupations which use or handle radioactive materials,” Mr Hill said.
Some occupational registrations may initially be excluded from ADR for up to 12 months and some may also be excluded for 5 years (on a renewable basis) if there is a significant risk to consumer protection, the environment, animal welfare or the health and safety of workers or the public.
“A person entitled to ADR can undertake activities in South Australia that fall within the scope of their home state or territory licence or registration in South Australia, subject to the requirements of SA legislation,” Mr Hill said.
“A person may be required to notify the EPA before commencing any work and to provide evidence of their home state or territory licence or registration. The notification can be made online once ADR commences in SA.”
Further information is available on the Australian Government website: Improving occupational mobility | Deregulation (pmc.gov.au)
Search for customers who received contaminated rubble
The Fleurieu Regional Waste Authority (FRWA) is seeking previous customers who may have purchased recycled crushed concrete from its Goolwa Waste and Recycling Depot, after asbestos was found in a stockpile of the material.
The EPA has issued an environment protection order (EPO) in relation to the find, requiring FRWA to stop selling and supplying the crushed concrete material, to identify locations where it was used and to notify customers.
Alexandrina Council is the EPA licence holder for the depot, which is operated by FRWA.
FRWA has engaged an asbestos consultant to undertake an assessment of each location where the material has been used, provide short term management advice to the landholders concerned, and prepare and implement plans for remediation.
The contamination occurred last September when asbestos was mixed with construction and demolition material which was crushed into road base aggregate at the authority’s Goolwa depot.
The contaminated material was sold until March from recycling depots at Goolwa, Strathalbyn and Yankalilla.
FWRA has set aside funds to begin removing the contaminated material from properties which have registered with environmental consultants Greencap.
The EPA was notified again recently that FRWA has discovered asbestos contamination within another batch of crushed concrete material produced at the Goolwa depot in December 2018, and sold to customers throughout the region.
FRWA is again notifying customers who have received this material, and has publicised the matter through the news media to reach customers whose details were not recorded.
The EPA requires the Alexandrina Council and FRWA to ensure appropriate assessment and remediation is undertaken at all locations where the contaminated material has been used.
SA Productivity Commission inquiry into regulation – Business survey
The South Australian Productivity Commission is undertaking an inquiry into South Australia’s regulatory system and will make recommendations for more business friendly practices and fit for purpose for growing jobs and investment, while not compromising the public interest.
The survey aims to find out what businesses think of South Australian regulations and to investigate opportunities for reform.
If you are an SA business owner and/or operator, the Commission wants to hear your views and experiences to gain the evidence and information it needs for meaningful recommendations. Regulations need to reflect modern business practices, so the Commission wants to identify and remove regulatory barriers and unnecessary red tape and encourage innovation and investment, without compromising public safety.
The business survey will help the Commission hear from a cross-section of businesses in SA. The survey will be live until Wednesday 28 July 2021 and will take 20 minutes at most.
The EPA is assisting the Commission with its inquiry and will be engaging with the Commission on the results of the business survey and the inquiry when they become available to assist us in identifying opportunities for providing better services to the community and business.
Introducing EPA Acting Director Regulation
Andrew Pruszinski, EPA Manager of Site Contamination has been appointed Acting Director Regulation, following the departure of former Director Peter Dolan from the EPA in June 2021.
Mr Pruszinski has been appointed Acting Director for the next 6 months while the EPA undertakes a formal recruitment process.
During his term Mr Pruszinski intends to visit as many EPA licensed sites as possible to meet with site operators.
Originally from Broken Hill, he has had a long career in environmental practice, working previously with Sinclair Knight Merz (SKM) and CSR Australia, before starting with the EPA in 2004 as a Principal Adviser in Site Contamination.
In 2012 Mr Pruszinski was appointed Manager Site Contamination and has since been integral in the development and implementation of site contamination legislation and the SA Government Orphan Site Program, as well as delivering national programs through his close working relationship with CRC CARE.
He is a member of the South Australian Public Health Council, and represents Australia on the Working Group on the Remediation of Soil and Groundwater Pollution for the Asia/Pacific Region.
EPA Director Peter Dolan to head TLAP
After 27 years at the EPA, Director Regulation, Peter Dolan is moving to Port Pirie to take up a challenging new role as Executive Director of the Targeted Lead Abatement Program (TLAP), a position jointly funded by the State Government and Nyrstar.
Peter Dolan (left) with EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli who presented Peter with an Ngarrindjeri boomerang with artwork by Uncle Major “Moogy” Sumner. Peter and his team were active in Ngarrindjeri Country during the Millennium Drought when they undertook scientific work to better understand and drought impacts and provided advice on reducing those impacts.
The impact of lead emissions from the smelter’s operations has been an area of interest to Peter for many years, even pre-dating his time with the EPA.
Peter started with the EPA in 1994 when it was still part of the Environment Department, as a Senior Professional Services Officer in Environmental Management.
Since then Peter has overseen and led much of the EPA’s scientific and regulatory services, including being a regular face and voice of the EPA in the news media.
Peter has shaped much of the EPA’s legislative framework, from site contamination and local nuisance legislation to having a hand in drafting the Aquaculture Act and, most recently, licensing petrol stations and poultry farms.
The past quarter century has seen many environmental challenges, and Peter has often been at the forefront of the EPA’s response, including coordinating the agency’s response to numerous contaminated sites and steering us through the Millennium Drought.
Peter will still have a strong connection back to the EPA with his new role as head of TLAP, although his new position will sit under the Department for Energy and Mining, and be jointly funded by Nyrstar and DEM.
Peter is strongly committed to working to improve outcomes for Port Pirie people and we wish him well in his endeavours.
Peter will bring fresh ideas and leadership to ensure the goals and objectives of TLAP are achieved and that blood lead levels in young children in Port Pirie will be improved.
Peter will take up his new role on 12 July 2021.
Expanded Osborne Naval Shipyard incorporates ESD initiatives
Australian Naval Infrastructure (ANI), formed in March 2017, is a Federal Government Business Enterprise which is building state-of-the-art infrastructure at Osborne to support the government’s $183b Naval Shipbuilding Plan.
ANI has expanded the Osborne Naval Shipyard significantly during the past three years, so it now covers 109 hectares of the Lefevre Peninsula. The new and expanded Osborne South Shipyard incorporates numerous environmentally sustainable development initiatives (ESD).
The new south shipyard is just the first step in the expansion and modernisation of the naval shipyard. The south shipyard now has ‘end to end’ fully integrated shipbuilding capability; meaning steel goes in one end and ships come out the other.
The Osborne Naval Shipyard covers more than 107 ha of the Lefevre Peninsula.
ANI’s Project Director Phil Cornish said the new southern yard will support the continuous build program for future vessels up to a 10,000 Tonne displacement, such as destroyer class vessels.
“The southern yard has four new industrial halls each focused on different stages of the shipbuilding process, from steel fabrication to hull forming, blasting and painting, ship assembly and consolidation, outfitting and final commissioning.
“The massive Ship Consolidation and Erection Hall houses two 200 Tonne overhead gantry cranes, allowing ships to be built undercover, rather than in the previous open, dry berths.
“The south shipyard also includes a new canteen with commercial kitchen, modularised change room buildings with solar power and recycled water, offices and staff amenities.
“ANI progressed the development and delivery of the new shipyard facilities in partnership with Lendlease as our managing contractor, shipyard designers Odense Maritime Technology and local Australian designers Aurecon.
“We worked closely with all project stakeholders in considering, assessing and implementing controls to manage environmental risks during delivery and also during future operation.”
Environmentally sustainable development (ESD) initiatives in the south shipyard include:
- Provision for future PV cells on main production halls
- South facing clear wall cladding providing increased natural light to large workshops
- Rainwater capture and re-use for office facilities
- Low volatile organic compound paints
- User-controlled ventilation and natural ventilation in production halls
- LED lighting throughout with intelligent control systems
- Reuse of excavated bulk material for the future western carpark sites
- Solar panel preheat hot water units for office and amenities
- Energy efficient variable air volume systems in some areas
- 100% outside air recovery ventilation air conditioning units in dining areas.
“ANI recognises it has an obligation to consider the interests of tenants, employees, nearby residential and business communities, and has carefully considered and planned for the best social and environmental outcomes from the development,” Phil Cornish said.
“ANI has progressed completion of the works and advanced handover of the facilities to the Hunter Class Frigate Program and appointed shipbuilder, BAEMSA (ASC-Shipbuilding), which included liaison and coordination with the EPA on the establishment of relevant operational management plans and controls.
“ANI continues to focus on ensuring our Osborne development projects maintain a high priority to considering the environment in design, construction and future operations.
“We are also involved, with others, in the revitalisation of Mutton Cove, and the engagement of local indigenous artists to create artwork for the site which reflects the local environment and pays homage to the traditional custodians of the land.”
The Osborne South Shipyard has become a new landmark in the area, and represents a major commitment by the Australian Government to support a continuous and sustainable shipbuilding program in the decades ahead.
Indigenous artwork in the Osborne South shipyard.
This story originally appeared in the EPA’s 6th edition of Good for Environment, Good for Business which was launched at the Board’s annual Summit.
Meet EPA senior environmental planner Helen Malone
EPA senior environmental planner Helen Malone has always been motivated by a love of the environment, something ingrained in her by her family while growing up in regional NSW.
When Helen first joined the EPA in 2009 as an environmental planner with a Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning she advised on planning policy, development assessments and environment impact matters.
Her work focused on helping council planners and applicants navigate the development assessment process.
She gained broad experience advising on planning and development issues associated with major projects, large-scale housing land developments, wind farms, landfills, intensive animal keeping activities, industrial and manufacturing projects, along with other activities of environmental significance.
In 2013 Helen enrolled in the Master of Environmental Policy and Management course at the University of Adelaide to build her knowledge and policy skills so she could further her career preparing better legislation for improved environmental outcomes.
“The program enabled me to consider human impacts on the environment in all areas of science including geography, biology, social sciences and political sciences,” Helen said.
“I was able to apply learnings from my Master’s degree in 2017 when I assisted the EPA in determining the economic cost of seagrass loss from proposed large scale dredging impacts.
“Being employed in the State Government, I was also able to research environmental governance at depth.
“I was particularly pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to the review and implementation of environmental policy within the new Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 in accordance with the Planning and Design Code 2016.”
Helen’s future career aspirations include writing environmental legislation to protect future generations from major environmental impacts.
But with another addition to her family arriving in August, those aspirations will be put on hold for a little while.
Helen recently appeared in a short video to help promote the University of Adelaide’s Master of Environmental Policy and Management.
Charges laid over illegal waste depots
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has charged a northern suburbs demolition and waste contractor and its director for allegedly operating unlicensed waste depots in Adelaide’s northeast and a location 100kms east of Adelaide.
Port Adelaide Salvage SA Pty Ltd and its sole director Maurizio Corsaro are charged with operating illegal depots in Houghton and Sedan between 2017 and 2019.
They face 17 charges for various offences under the Environment Protection Act 1993, including illegal operation of waste depots, breaching Clean Up Orders and hindering, assaulting and using abusive language towards EPA officers.
The charges relate to an EPA investigation into alleged unlicensed waste depots operated by Port Adelaide Salvage and Mr Corsaro.
Clean Up Orders were subsequently issued to the company and its director which were not complied with.
Following the non-compliance the EPA engaged licensed contractors to remove asbestos contaminated waste in April 2020 and dispose of it at appropriately licensed facilities.
The EPA is now seeking to recover more than $600,000 in clean-up costs from Port Adelaide Salvage.
The company was fined $37,500 in July 2019 for operating an illegal dump in Highbury between August and November 2012, and another in Houghton.
In October 2019 the EPA suspended the company’s authority to transport waste for three years after Port Adelaide Salvage transported asbestos that was not appropriately wrapped or sealed, putting the public and the environment at risk.
Anyone who suspects an unlicensed waste facility may be operating in their area is encouraged to contact their local council or the EPA on 8204 2004.
Facts agreed on Nyrstar acid spill
The EPA and Nyrstar Port Pirie Pty Ltd have settled on a statement of agreed facts around the discharge of about 700 litres of sulfuric acid from the company’s smelter site into First Creek at Port Pirie between 31 January and 3 February 2019.
The statement was presented to the Environment, Resources and Development (ERD) Court of South Australia on 24 May 2021.
It’s estimated that 700 litres of sulfuric acid poured into mangroves and creeks near the lead smelter after a valve corroded through. A series of failures and oversights led to the accident including:
- Failure to close a valve
- An incorrect assumption that the spilt acid was weak
- Installation of an incorrect valve which was not corrosion resistant
- Failure of quality control systems to ensure the correct valve had been installed.
The court heard the acid moved through more than a kilometre of man-made waterways before entering into natural creeks and mangroves and out into Spencer Gulf.
The acid made the waterways more acidic and mobilised heavy metals.
Dead fish were found in the creek however it wasn’t clear if the deaths were as the result of the acid spill or whether they were the result of an algal bloom which occurred at the same time.
Nyrstar admitted the leak had the potential to cause environmental harm to fish and other plant and animal life in the creek which is an offence under the Environment Protection Act 1993.
Nyrstar cooperated with the EPA’s investigation into the incident and made a number of improvements to its plant and practices to reduce the risk of a similar incident occurring in the future.
The company was also required to undertake an Environment Improvement Plan to prevent or minimise any environmental harm attributable to wastewater and contaminated stormwater management.
The ERD Court is expected to impose a civil penalty in relation to the spill in July.
EPA’s Radiation Emergency Response team on training exercise
Last month the EPA’s Radiation Emergency Response Team participated in a training exercise to ensure the agency is well prepared to manage any significant incidents involving radiation in South Australia, including terrorism-related incidents.
The training exercise, dubbed Exercise Hot Spot, was held at the Metropolitan Fire Service’s (MFS) Angle Park Training Centre.
The EPA’s Radiation Emergency Response Team participated in a training exercise designed to practice their response to significant incidents involving radioactive materials.
The exercise aimed to assess the EPA’s capability and preparedness to safely respond to contamination events from terrorist-related activity and subsequently develop a strategy to deal with the radiation sources, including decontamination of the scene, personnel and equipment.
Members of the Country Fire Service’s (CFS) Hazardous Materials (Hazmat) Technical Operations team and the South Australian Police (SAPOL) Bomb Response Unit attended to learn from EPA radiation experts the types of radioactive materials they could encounter and to understand the capabilities and resources the EPA can provide when assisting Emergency Services to manage an incident.
The EPA is a support agency under the State Emergency Management Plan (SEMP) and the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Support Plan.
The EPA’s Radiation Emergency Response Coordinator, Andrew Ostrowski, said the training is important as the EPA may be called on at any time by Emergency Services to provide specialised advice and assistance.
“As part of these working arrangements with Emergency Services, the EPA provides annual training to emergency responders to ensure they are well-equipped and prepared to respond to any significant radiological incidents,” Mr Ostrowski said.
While we have seen nothing as serious as a terrorism-related incident, the EPA has been involved in a variety of radiation-related responses in the past such as assisting with multi-agency border transportation compliance issues, and the identification and decontamination of radioactive material from medical and industrial incidents.
The EPA Radiation Emergency Response Team also provides expert advice in relation to:
- Incidents involving Emergency Services.
- Methods for using X-rays to inspect suspicious articles with SAPOL’s Bomb Response Unit.
- Procedures and training for both the MFS and CFS hazmat operators, including decontamination exercises and incident response scenarios.
- South Australian Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Committee.
- Queries from members of the public.
- Other State Government agencies.
The EPA protects the environment and health and safety of people from risks associated with ionising radiation. It regulates the use of ionising radiation in medical, research, industrial and mining organisations including use of X-rays, and the safe use, transport, storage and disposal of radioactive substances.
EPA’s Emergency Response Team
To safeguard the community and minimise environmental harm and nuisance, the EPA provides a 24/7 incident advice and response service to support emergency services, industry and the community, typically attending to more than 200 calls a year.
The EPA’s Emergency Response Team (ERT) consists of regular EPA staff members who volunteer to become Emergency Response Officers (ERO) in addition to their regular “day jobs”.
EROs take turns to be rostered on-call overnight and during weekends.
EROs regularly provide advice to emergency services personnel, EPA licence holders, and the general public about containing, disposing of, or cleaning-up a substance or environmental issue involving a contaminant. EROs may also attend incidents to assess other environmental concerns.
In the past couple of months the team has attended and assisted or coordinated a response at a variety of incidents, including a major fire which destroyed Visy’s recycling facility at Wingfield in early April.
Typical call-outs include reports of dumped asbestos or contaminants polluting local waterways.
A typical EPA Emergency Response callout which involved officers investigating an oily substance which entered Christie Creek from a stormwater outlet at Morphett Vale.
Last month (mid-May) the ERT was advised about an oily substance entering Christie Creek from a stormwater outlet at Morphett Vale.
An ERO attended the site and found tens of litres of an unidentified oily substance with a moderate odour had entered the creek.
The substance appeared to have stopped flowing from the stormwater outlet and was being contained by dense reeds and wind movement.
The officer couldn’t identify the source of the substance but believed it could be associated with industrial or residential activity. Members of the public are reminded not allow contaminants or other hazardous substances to enter stormwater drains.
The matter was handed over to the EPA water quality team to determine if the substance required clean-up. When polluters cannot be identified, any clean-up or remediation is carried out at the EPA’s expense.
SE gas plant meets EPO requirements
Adelaide Energy’s Katnook Gas Processing Facility in the state’s south east has met the requirements of an environment protection order (EPO) which was issued last year.
The EPA issued the EPO in October 2020 after becoming aware of a potential leak in the liner of a stormwater lagoon at the facility.
EPA Director of Science and Information Keith Baldry said Beach Energy, which owns Adelaide Energy, repaired the leak in the lagoon liner by mid-November, as required under the EPO.
“The EPO also required the company to undertake six months of enhanced groundwater monitoring. This involved monthly monitoring in the three groundwater wells closest to the lagoon.
“The final round of monthly groundwater monitoring results were submitted to the EPA earlier this month for review, effectively meeting all requirements of the EPO.
“An EPA inspection was also carried out at the facility in April 2021.
“The EPA is presently reviewing the final monitoring results to determine if any follow up action is required, however at this time, it appears no hydrocarbons have migrated into groundwater as a result of the potential leak, which is pleasing.
“The integrity of lagoons is part of Adelaide Energy’s environmental licence, and it is important that groundwater is protected.”
The Katnook Gas Plant was initially constructed by Origin Energy Resources Limited and commenced production in 1991. Production at the gas plant stopped in 2011, but the plant was refurbished and recommissioned in early 2020 to supply gas to industry in the state’s south east.
In April, the company announced that operations at the Katnook Gas Plant would be suspended during the next financial year due to declines in gas volumes.
EPA Board Summit focuses on climate change
The EPA Board Summit held on 21 April 2021 focused on 'Climate Change – Risks, Liabilities and Remedies'.
The strong message from those presenting at the Summit was that small-to-medium-sized businesses and industries need to plan now to mitigate the impacts posed by climate change – including likely business discontinuity and damage to business operations, as well as the considerable financial risk.
Keynote speaker Sarah Barker, a corporate lawyer with MinterEllison, said climate change poses a material and accelerating financial risk and also an opportunity for small-to-medium-sized businesses. She also warned that past experience does not represent the future likely risk to business.
Ms Barker encouraged business to look ahead, assess and plan for risks and to talk to their bankers and supply chains to consider how they should respond to climate change risks.
Speaker Tennant Reed from Australian Industry Group (AIG), advised Summit attendees to look at AIG website to view the sectors most at risk from climate change.
Mr Tennant said more than half the businesses polled by AIG last year had experienced difficulty obtaining insurance, and of those, more than half had faced increased premiums. He also noted how global climate disasters had increased reinsurance costs and how that was impacting locally.
Dr Graham Green, Climate Change Science Adviser at the SA Department for Environment and Water, focused on the physical changes happening in South Australia.
He said the average temperature in SA is increasing at a rate higher than the Australian and global average, and is projected to increase even further.
Dr Green advised extreme heat has a significant impact on human health and productivity, particularly for industries where people are required to work outside.
He said the reduction in rainfall in South Australia will also be significant and this will influence crop choices in the agricultural sector, as well as the need to purchase additional water allocations and to invest in water recycling.
Dr Green also touched on rising sea levels and said businesses would need to reassess their flood risk profile and insurance to incorporate the risk from coastal flooding.
He pointed attendees to the significant amount of climate change data and information already available on the Bureau of Meteorology and other national and state government websites.
The Summit then heard case studies from Elizabeth Molyneaux and Michelle English (from AGL and Adelaide City Council respectively), about how their businesses are responding to climate change.
They emphasised that climate change is a cross-organisational issue and organisations must adequately resource those charged with managing the organisation’s response. She also stressed the importance of collaboration between businesses when planning and managing risks associated with climate change.
EPA CE Tony Circelli wrapped up the Summit saying the EPA wants to support and assist businesses to adapt and innovate in response to climate change and to realise the opportunities that exist.
Post-event materials will be available shortly for those who were unable able to attend the Summit.
Good for Environment, Good for Business launched
The EPA’s 6th edition of Good for Environment, Good for Business was launched at the Board’s annual Summit last month.
The publication highlights businesses and companies which are implementing innovative solutions to achieve environmentally sustainable outcomes.
The stories are designed to inspire and encourage others to consider how they might innovate to lighten their footprint, to improve environmental, community and business outcomes.
This year’s publication features Teys Australia’s Naracoorte beef processing facility, Australian Naval Infrastructure’s state-of-the-art infrastructure at Osborne, SA Water’s Murray Bridge Wastewater Network and Korvest Galvanisers at Kilburn.
The Teys Australia story is published in this edition of the Monitor and the remaining stories will be published in subsequent issues of the Monitor.
Hard copies of Good for Environment, Good for Business can be requested by email. Please also email the same inbox if you believe you know a suitable EPA-licenced business worthy of being featured in the publication next year.
Sustainability at Teys Australia’s Naracoorte facility
Since 1946 Teys has been delivering Australian beef to domestic and international customers while demonstrating a strong commitment to creating more sustainable futures for its employees, communities and the planet.
For more than two decades the team at Teys processing facility at Naracoorte, which employs more than 500 people, has focused on having a positive impact on the local community as well as supporting change across the industry.
The covered anaerobic lagoon at Teys Australia’s Naracoorte facility.
Teys has set clear targets to demonstrate this sustainability focus. By 2023, Teys will reduce water intensity by 10 per cent, reduce carbon intensity by 20 per cent, and source 30 per cent of its energy via renewables, with a view to achieving industry carbon neutrality by 2030.
Teys meat processing operations at Naracoorte generate more than 360 ML of wastewater each year and, in recent years, Teys has made a substantial effort to upgrade its wastewater treatment infrastructure. The appointment of a local dedicated environmental officer, along with investment in industry leading technologies, supports the company’s sustainability vision at Naracoorte.
Teys’ Group Environmental Manager Jacob Welch said this involved upgrading the facility’s primary and secondary wastewater treatment systems.
“The primary wastewater treatment system was upgraded with a dissolved air floatation system for fat, oils and grease removal, as well as the addition of two fan press units to improve paunch solids removal prior to discharge to the secondary wastewater treatment system. The fan presses also significantly dewater the paunch product, reducing the moisture content prior to composting.”
A Covered Anaerobic Lagoon (CAL) was also installed to improve wastewater treatment performance while capturing renewable energy rich biogas for electricity generation.
“The biogas is combusted in a cogeneration engine to produce renewable electricity, substantially reducing the facility’s reliance on grid electricity and reducing CO2 emissions by about 22,000 tonnes a year,” Mr Welch said.
“Teys has similar systems in place at its other processing facilities across Australia, but Naracoorte is our first plant to supply biogas into a cogeneration system for electricity generation, rather than a boiler for steam generation. The project will serve as a model for future implementation at our other facilities.”
Continuity of electricity supply is critical to the meat processing sector, and to ensure long-term energy security, Teys was able to access funding to support the project through the State Government Energy Productivity Program.
The multi-million dollar improvements were recognised with a win in the Energy Sector: Innovation and Productivity Improvement Award at the SA Premier’s Energy and Mining Awards in 2019.
“Recognition for our sustainability efforts is a great reward and it gives our customers and consumers confidence that Teys is taking real action to address the sustainability challenges of the future,” Mr Welch said.
“We also have a more resilient business, which gives the local community and our employees confidence that Teys is in Naracoorte for the long-term.”
EPA Authorised officers undertake odour sensitivity testing
EPA staff are undertaking odour sensitivity training to see if they’ve got the right nose for the job.
EPA Environmental Scientist Shiloh Gerrity has been providing odour sensitivity testing and training to EPA ‘authorised officers’ for more than a decade to see which staff may be suitable for investigating odour complaints in the community and determining odour sources.
EPA Environmental Scientist Shiloh Gerrity testing colleague Andre Ortis’ sensitivity to odour to see if he has a suitable odour sensitivity range to investigate odours in the community.
“The odour sensitivity test is designed to identify staff with the right range of sensitivity,” Shiloh said.
“One person may be 300 times more sensitive to odour than another, and I’m intent on identifying staff who fall within the right sensitivity range.
“People who are too sensitive can get nasal fatigue which is when their brain interrupts their sense of smell so they don’t become overwhelmed.
“You may have experienced this when you’ve been somewhere with a really offensive odour, and then find after a while that you can no longer smell it.
“People who are not sensitive enough can find it difficult to tell the difference between similar smells, so their sense of smell can be unreliable.
“The olfactometer we use, (a piece of equipment which measures odour dilution) has an odour sensitivity test to identify people who fall within the right sensitivity range.
“These staff can then be used to check out odour complaints in the community and we can have a degree of confidence that field observations will be consistent between different staff.
“To determine if staff are suitable, they are blindfolded and invited to sniff up to 14 different textas, or felt pens, which contain differing concentrations of n-butanol - a colourless liquid with a banana-like smell.
“In this way we are able to determine a baseline odour reading and work out a score for each individual. Anyone who scores between 4 and 12 falls within the right range.
“How the human nose detects odour is a bit of a mystery. As there is no reliable way of replacing a human nose with a chemical or electronic test, we find the most consistent method of testing the intensity of odours in the community is to use suitable staff who are trained to use our ‘Nasal Ranger’ olfactometers.”
Marino residents invited to participate in EPA dust study
The EPA has been aware that Marino residents are concerned about dust in the area and recently wrote to residents asking them to report their dust issues and seeking volunteers to host a dust monitor at their home for 12 months.
EPA principal air quality scientist Dr Pushan Shah said so far 15 Marino residents have been accepted to join the dust study working group and several have offered to host a dust monitor on their property.
Marino residents have reported concerns about dust to the EPA for some time.
The community working group’s first meeting will be held at Marino on May 24 and this group will work with the EPA to investigate the best locations for the three community dust monitors.
Once the locations are determined, the monitors will be installed and a fourth monitor will also be positioned to act as an EPA control location.
The dust monitors will be in place for 12 months and real-time air quality data will be collected and published on the EPA Engage website.
The monitors are designed to capture smaller dust particles, which have the potential to enter lungs and impact health.
The EPA will collaborate with SA Health to determine if dust poses a potential human health risk, based on the findings during the 12 months.
The study will also determine if the dust experienced by the community exceeds relevant public health-based national standards and if the dust in Marino differs from that in other Adelaide suburbs.
The study findings will be presented to the community in July or August 2022.
Conviction against Ashton Valley Fresh upheld
An appeal against two convictions against an Adelaide Hills fruit juice company has been dismissed by the Supreme Court of South Australia.
In August 2014 Environment Protection Authority (EPA) officers identified a pollutant in Deep Creek and traced it to a wastewater treatment plant at Ashton Valley Fresh Pty Ltd.
The company was charged with discharging a pollutant in the form of wastewater from its site at Lobethal Road, Ashton into the waters of Deep Creek in contravention of the Environment Protection (Water Quality) Policy.
In August 2020 Ashton Valley Fresh was convicted on two counts of contravening an environmental protection policy contrary to the Environment Protection Act 1993 after a trial lasting eight days in the Environment, Resources and Development (ERD) Court.
The company appealed the conviction to the Supreme Court arguing on appeal that it had taken all reasonable and practicable measures to prevent environmental harm and that an employee may have opened a tap attached to the plant, which treated wastewater from an apple juicing process.
Justice Lovell of the Supreme Court upheld the original convictions, stating Ashton Valley Fresh could have taken other reasonable and practicable steps to have prevented the discharge and that it was not established that an employee had operated the tap to discharge the wastewater.
Costs associated with the Appeal are yet to be determined.
Fire destroys Visy recycling facility at Wingfield
More than 100 firefighters battled a blaze which destroyed Visy’s recycling facility at Wingfield in early April.
The fire burnt for several hours, fuelled by bundles of plastic and cardboard and sent smoke billowing over the local area.
Firefighters were initially called to the EPA licensed recycling facility on Johansson Road about 3:30 am after a smoke alarm was activated and a triple-0 call was made.
The EPA attended the site shortly after 7 am and confirmed that fire had destroyed the facility. EPA staff also monitored the situation to ensure that fire water was contained on the site and didn’t enter the stormwater system.
The Wingfield facility had been used to store and sort waste from 11 Adelaide councils and the site had been processing about 250 tonnes of recycling a day.
In the short term VISY has arranged for kerbside recyclable material to be baled locally and transported to VISY facilities in NSW and Victoria for processing.
These alternative arrangements will stay in place until an alternative materials recovery facility becomes available in South Australia.
More than 100 firefighters battled a blaze at Visy’s Wingfield recycling facility which broke out in the early hours of the morning on 8 April.
EPA launches Reconciliation Action Plan
The EPA Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan 2021–22 (RAP) was launched on Wednesday 17 March, by Chief Executive Tony Circelli.
The RAP highlights the EPA’s commitment to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to maintain, protect and celebrate their culture, language, land and heritage in South Australia.
The EPA recognises the Original Custodians of South Australia’s lands, water, plants and animals, and that Country is central to the social, cultural, spiritual lives and identify of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The EPA Reconciliation Working Group with guest Ian Liddy (3rd from left), EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli and guest Isaac Hannam, at the launch of the EPA Reconciliation Action Plan
The EPA is committed to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to implement the RAP, which outlines 14 actions that work towards achieving the EPA’s unique vision for reconciliation over the next two years.
The Innovate RAP is guided by three key pillars – Relationships, Respect, and Opportunities – and will assist in promoting a positive culture internally which celebrates reconciliation within the EPA, further drive positive organisational change, and strengthen the frequency and quality of the EPA’s engagement with Aboriginal communities.
The RAP builds on the EPA’s existing work with Aboriginal communities developed as part of the previous Reconciliation Action Plan and identifies future opportunities to engage and work with Aboriginal peoples to protect and restore our environment for future generations.
Photo: “Caring for Country” artwork by Scott Rathman which was commissioned to illustrate the EPA Reconciliation Action Plan. It depicts land, air and water with the centre representing the coming together of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people to share knowledge about country which contributes to the building of new relationships and strengthens old ones.
Easier access to real time air quality data
It is now easier for people to access and understand real time air quality data thanks to a new webpage launched by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
The new webpage allows users to identify the location of air quality monitors on an interactive map as well as provide access to air quality information including data on concentrations of pollutants.
EPA CE Executive Tony Circelli said the new webpage will make it easier for people to access and interpret real-time air quality data, particularly during major events impacting air quality such as bushfires, dust events, or photochemical smog events.
EPA scientific officer Sam Rice checking data at the Netley Air Quality Monitoring Station
“The new interactive webpage is a big improvement on the table-based format we previously presented air quality data in online and follows an extensive review of how we could improve air quality reporting to meet the needs of the South Australian community.
“The initiative also follows an EPA commitment to make our operations more open and transparent and provide more timely information on environmental incidents to communities and the public.
“Since making that commitment the EPA has revamped its website, released radiation licence data on its Public Register and released online groundwater contamination records in map form.
“The new air quality webpage will be much easier for people to navigate as by simply hovering their mouse over an interactive map they will be able to read and interpret air quality readings at nine different monitoring stations in Adelaide and around the state.
“Providing faster and easier access to air quality data during events such as bushfires, industrial fires, dust and smog events is vitally important for people who are managing respiratory and other conditions.
“The design of the new webpage also adopts nationally consistent air quality categories and associated public health messages.”
Poultry industry to be licensed from 1 April
From 1 April 2021 South Australian poultry farms (broiler) will be required to apply for a licence from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
This requirement brings the poultry industry into line with other intensive farming industries such as cattle feedlots and piggeries, which have similar potential environmental impacts.
EPA Director Regulation Peter Dolan said licensing of poultry farms enables the EPA to set conditions and regulate potential environmental impacts such as odour, waste, wastewater or contaminated stormwater run-off, and noise pollution.
“The EPA advised poultry farm operators in April 2020 that they would require a licence once poultry farms were added to the list of activities of environmental significance requiring EPA authorisation – and this occurred in December,” Mr Dolan said.
“Poultry farm (broiler) operators who grow poultry meat where the total area of the sheds or structures used to keep the poultry is 13,500 square metres or more will require an EPA licence.
“Poultry includes chicken, turkey, guinea fowl, duck, geese, pheasants, quail, squab (pigeons), muttonbirds or other avian species.
“Holding an EPA licence will give the poultry industry regulatory certainty and clarity about their obligations.
“Licensing fees have been set to reflect the amount of effort required by the EPA to regulate potential environmental impacts.”
Poultry farmers will be able to apply for a licence online from 1 April 2021. Licences will be issued for a period of five years, after which time the licence will be renewed.
In most circumstances, standard licence conditions will be set for poultry farm licensees who are ensuring that all reasonable practices are being taken to minimise risk to the environment. The EPA will focus its attention according to risk, which will promote a more level playing-field for environmental management for the sector.
Further information is available on the EPA website or contact 8204 2004.
Groundwater prohibition area for Tonsley and surrounds
The EPA will establish a Groundwater Prohibition Area (GPA) in Tonsley, and parts of Mitchell Park, Clovelly Park and Marion to prevent residents and workers from accessing contaminated groundwater.
Groundwater in these areas is contaminated with chlorinated hydrocarbons, petroleum hydrocarbons, PFAS, heavy metals and cyanide from past industrial activities.
The GPA will come into effect on April 8 and will prohibit people from drawing and using bore water from shallow aquifers less than 25 metres deep.
Deeper uncontaminated aquifers, such as those used by councils, are exempt from this prohibition.
The EPA has written to impacted residents and landowners to advise them that the GPA will be established, and this follows a 90-day community consultation period.
EPA Director Regulation, Peter Dolan said using contaminated bore water for drinking, showering, washing, filling swimming pools, watering lawns or irrigating edible produce over a long period of time would be a health risk for people in the affected area.
“Tonsley and surrounding suburbs have had significant commercial, industrial and manufacturing activities in the past, and unfortunately chemicals were disposed of by tipping them onto the ground.
“At the time it was thought the chemicals would evaporate, but we now know they migrate through the ground and contaminate groundwater.”
From 8 April 2021, extracting groundwater (bore water) from the Pooraka Formation aquifer (5–6 m below ground level) and Upper Hindmarsh Clay Quaternary aquifer (8–23 m below ground level) will be prohibited. A maximum fine of $8,000 may be issued if bore water is extracted from these aquifers.
Further information, including a map of the impacted area is available at: www.engage.epa.sa.gov.au/Tonsley
EPA scientists survey suspended sediment in marine environment
EPA scientists get out along Adelaide’s metropolitan coastline twice a season to capture and examine organisms and suspended sediments which ultimately provide data to help guide future management of the marine environment.
The work along the metropolitan coast is carried out twice every season over a 12 month period, (once at high tide and once at low tide each season), with seston traps deployed at Largs Bay, Grange, Brighton and Moana, in both vegetated and non-vegetated habitat.
The data from this study will better inform the limitations to seagrass recovery along the metropolitan Adelaide coastline and potentially demonstrate the role seagrass meadows play in reducing resuspension of sediments.
EPA Water Quality Scientist Matt Nelson said seagrasses are an important indicator of coastal health but have been greatly degraded along the Adelaide coastline by nutrient and sediment discharges from wastewater treatment plants and industry, as well as stormwater.
“Seagrass meadows play a number of important roles; they are nursery grounds for both commercially and recreationally important fish and crustacean species, sediment stabilisers and carbon sinks.
EPA scientific officer Natan Noel retrieving seston traps from Adelaide’s metro coastline.
“Over the last 20 years there has been a substantial reduction in nutrients discharged to nearshore environments from wastewater and industry, and now we believe the biggest factor potentially impacting nearshore habitats is fine sediment discharged from land-based sources, primarily through urban stormwater, that are constantly being re-suspended with wind and wave action.
“The joint research being undertaken by EPA and SA Water scientists will help us identify the land-use sources contributing most to sediment exports, and how these may be better managed.
“Ultimately we want to improve the water quality conditions that are required to best protect and provide for the restoration of seagrasses.”
State Government steps up on mangroves
As part of a coordinated State Government response, efforts are being stepped up to prevent further harm to the St Kilda mangroves.
The State Government has installed additional pumps to accelerate the movement of hyper-saline water away from the mangroves adjacent to the Dry Creek salt fields. This will complement activity being undertaken by Buckland Dry Creek (BDC), following directions previously issued by the Department for Energy and Mining.
Water regression in one of the salt ponds at the Dry Creek Saltfields. Photo courtesy of DEM.
The additional pumping activity has been made possible through a Clean Up Authorisation (CUA) under the Environment Protection Act 1993.
The CUA follows successful government trials of new pumping equipment at the site and enables Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Authorised Officers to undertake water pumping on the salt field site and to recover costs from BDC.
The additional pumps will accelerate the movement of water away from the western side of the highest risk ponds closest to the mangrove environment, moving water southwards to relieve pressure on the more severely impacted areas of vegetation.
Government remains focused on stopping further impact on the mangroves, promoting conditions for recovery of the affected areas, and establishing long-term environmental stability for the mangrove and wider ecosystem.
Productivity Commission Inquiry into SA’s regulatory framework
The South Australian Government has asked the South Australia Productivity Commission (SAPC) to report on the modernisation of South Australia’s regulatory framework to better support investment, employment and productivity growth.
The inquiry will consider how to make the development of regulations and regulator behaviour more efficient, effective and future oriented.
The inquiry is part of SAPC Modern Regulation Project that also includes a program of regulatory reviews into specific areas of regulation affecting key economic processes or sectors.
The Commission received the terms of reference from the government on Friday, 29 January 2021.
State Government acts to stop mangrove dieback
The State Government is taking action to arrest the dieback of hectares of mangroves and saltmarsh near the St Kilda boardwalk, while experts continue to work to understand the cause of the issue and consider actions to mitigate the movement of hypersaline water into saltmarsh and mangrove habitats.
The Department for Energy and Mining (DEM) has issued 3 environmental directions to Buckland Dry Creek (BDC), the company which occupies the site.
Buckland Dry Creek has been directed to stop further pumping of new water to the affected area, to address a seepage issue at the Little Para River, and to remove the water from 7 km of pond south of St Kilda.
DEM reports that millions of litres of brine is being pumped out of the hyper-saline salt ponds and that the ponds at St Kilda are expected to be drained within weeks.
Removing hyper-saline water from the salt fields
DEM continues to work with BDC to see how the company can remove water at a faster rate.
The 30-km, 4,000-hectare site is complex and areas are interrelated. Managing all sections, including the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary, will be an important aspect of future remediation.
Community groups are providing useful input and DEM continues to provide public updates on the issue on their website.
The EPA continues to provide DEM with scientific support and expert advice.
DEM regulates the site under the Mining Act 1971 through the mining lease it holds with BDC.
BDC also has a licence under the Environment Protection Act 1993 for chemical storage and warehousing facilities, chemical works (salt production) and discharges to marine or inland waters, which is overseen by the EPA.
Ban on single-use plastics from 1 March 2021
South Australian legislation, banning the sale, supply and distribution of single-use plastics from 1 March 2021, is the first of its kind in Australia.
The Single-use and Other Plastic Products (Waste Avoidance) Act 2020 passed Parliament on 9 September 2020.
South Australia was also the first state to introduce deposits on beverage containers, and the first to ban lightweight plastic bags.
By avoiding waste and shifting to reusable or other more sustainable options, the ban on single-use plastics continues to demonstrate SA’s leadership in this space.
From Monday 1 March 2021 single-use plastic straws, cutlery and stirrers will be prohibited from sale, supply or distribution in South Australia. These single-use items can be replaced with reusable and compostable alternatives that do not contain plastic.
The ban applies to single-use plastic straws, cutlery and stirrers made from, or comprising, fossil fuel derived plastic or compostable plastic, which is designed to be used once, or a limited number of times, before being thrown away.
Exemptions will apply for single-use straws for people with a disability or medical need.
Oxo-degradable plastic products will also be banned from manufacture and production in South Australia. Oxo-degradable plastic products have additives which enable the plastic to break down into tiny fragments (or microplastics) rather than completely breaking down.
Green Industries SA and the EPA are working on activities to support implementation of the single-use plastics ban. This includes developing and consulting on regulations to implement exemptions, preparing guidance on the assessment of single-use prohibited plastic products and the ‘Replace the Waste’ education campaign.
The EPA is responsible for enforcing the single-use plastics ban and will respond to non-compliance by taking an educational approach initially, followed up, if necessary, with verbal and written warnings, expiations and prosecution.
From March 1, 2022 expanded polystyrene cups, bowls, plates and clamshell containers will also be banned.
Visit the Replace the Waste website and sign up for updates on South Australia’s single use plastic ban.
Radiation Protection and Control Act 2021 brings reform
The Radiation Protection and Control Act 2021 has been passed by Parliament, bringing significant reform and establishing a nation-leading framework to shift to a risk-based harms approach for the safe use of radiation.
The new Act implements national commitments made at the Australian Health Ministers’ Conference and the Council of Australian Governments to introduce a uniform national framework for radiation protection.
The Act will replace the 1982 act, and will continue to regulate activities involving radiation sources to ensure that people and the environment are protected from the harmful effects of radiation.
The Act introduces a general duty of care, a risk-based harms approach and establishes the offence of causing radiation harm. It introduces tools such as orders and expiations to enable more effective regulation.
It also reduces the administrative burden on small business through streamlining 7 separate licence categories down to 2 – a radiation use licence and a radiation management licence.
New Regulations will now be drafted to include a more risk-based approach to improve the EPA’s regulatory framework for the safe use of radiation.
The Radiation Protection Committee will provide advice on the Regulations. Once the Regulations are well progressed a decision on when the new Act will commence will be made.
The EPA regulates hospitals, dentists, veterinarians, soil analysis companies, mining companies, radiographers, radiologists, and ports under the legislation.
Port Adelaide Salvage withdraws appeal against licence suspension
A Port Adelaide demolition company has withdrawn an appeal against a suspension of its waste transport licence.
The EPA suspended Port Adelaide Salvage Pty’s transport licence for 3 years following a series of non-compliances with its licence conditions and breaches of the Environment Protection Act 1993.
EPA spokesperson Stephen Barry said the company’s authority to transport waste was suspended in October 2019 after it and its director Maurizio Corsaro operated an illegal waste depot at Highbury in 2012, and after its director operated an illegal waste depot at Houghton in 2015.
Mr Barry said the company was transporting asbestos that was not “appropriately wrapped or sealed”, putting the public’s health at risk.
“It was necessary to suspend Port Adelaide Salvage’s transport licence given the circumstances of previous and ongoing offending to protect the public and the environment,” he explained.
The suspension means Port Adelaide Salvage is not permitted to transport listed waste including asbestos during the suspension period which remains in place until 30 September 2022.
The EPA is currently investigating Port Adelaide Salvage over the alleged unlawful disposal of waste at two locations in Sedan, 100 km east of Adelaide.
Sunken yacht sparks community concern
The EPA received a number of community enquiries and complaints about diesel fumes after a yacht sank at Newport Quays Marina in January.
The EPA’s Emergency Response Team attended the site on several occasions along with staff from the Department for Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) who placed a boom and absorbent pads around the vessel to contain pollutants.
The EPA liaised with the marina management company and the vessel owner during the incident and reminded them of their environmental obligations.
Vessel owners have a responsibility under the Environment Protection (Water Quality) Policy 2015 not to discharge pollutants, and where this has occurred must take all reasonable and proactive measures to resolve the matter promptly in an environmentally responsible manner.
The marina management company was required to provide evidence (including photographs) to the EPA of the salvage in progress and upon completion, confirming that containment measures had been effective.
The EPA was satisfied that contaminants were contained throughout the salvage operation and while odours were present, they are not severe.