Environmental Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) made the order against construction materials recycling business Phoenix Environmental Group Pty Ltd, demanding the company not to accept any more material until the EPA’s concerns are addressed.
Danny Childs, EPA’s Resource Recovery Facilities Audit Taskforce Manager, said that the stockpiles at the facility in Coolaroo, in Melbourne’s north, “presented a significant risk of fire and would be difficult to extinguish”.
“The size and contents of the stockpiles, inadequate separation distances and the potential sources of ignition increase the fire risks dramatically,” he said.
“The burning plastics, foam and polystyrene would create toxic gases and a great deal of smoke, and fire water runoff could contaminate local waterways.”
According to Mr Childs, this is the second notice issued to the company over the same concerns.
“The facility again won’t be allowed to operate until it complies with the requirements set out in the Victorian government’s Waste Management Policy,” Mr Childs said.
Failure to adhere to the notice could result in fines of up to $48,357, which would grow by a further $8,060 for every day that the breach continued.
“This is about protecting the community and the environment. The Waste Management Policy has been in place for over 18 months, and EPA has given operators plenty of time to take the necessary steps,” he said.
“When we inspect recycling businesses’ premises, we expect them to comply and they can expect a zero-tolerance approach from EPA.”
EPA alleged that among the stockpiles found at the business premises were piles of waste plasterboard covering around 5 metres square and stacked 2 metres high; 200 cubic metres of shredded waste timber; and a 2.5-metre-tall pile of waste timber less than a metre from the property’s boundary.
“EPA officers inspecting the site concluded that the company has not taken reasonable steps to manage and store combustible recyclable and waste materials in a manner that minimises the risks of harm to human health and the environment from fire,” Mr Childs said.
Phoenix Environmental Group has been approached for comment.