Community tip-off leads to fines for contractors
The Hunter-Central Coast Regional Illegal Dumping (RID) Squad has issued $24,000 in fines for offences under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act, following the investigation of illegally dumped waste at Loxford and Sandgate.
Hunter-Central Coast RID Squad Coordinator, Robert Robertson, said investigators discovered several tonnes of waste from a house demolition that was illegally dumped on Hart Road, Loxford near Kurri Kurri in October last year.
“The material was heavily contaminated with broken asbestos and it was apparent that no effort had been made to remove the asbestos sheeting prior to the demolition of the house, as is required, posing a major health risk to the community,” Mr Robertson said.
“At the same time, a similar sized illegal dump occurred in Sandgate and investigators were able to identify that the two dumps had come from the same demolition site by comparison of carpet samples and other physical evidence.”
An old birthday card was uncovered in the waste dumped at Loxford, addressed to a young boy named Earl from his Aunty Liz and Uncle Wayne. As a result of wide media circulation in the Newcastle region, family members contacted the RID Squad and supplied information which eventually allowed investigators to speak with Earl, who had received the card on his seventh birthday - he is now 42 years old.
“The information supplied led RID investigators to identify the origin of the material, which was from a house demolished in Charlestown in early October,” Mr Robertson said.
“The demolition contractors have now been spoken to by investigators and they will each receive more than $12,000 in fines relating to their alleged failure to show due diligence in the disposal of the waste material.”
Mr Robertson said it is an excellent example of the benefits of having an investigative unit such as RID that can cross council boundaries in major investigations.
“These offences occurred in three different local council areas and may not have been able to be linked, without the involvement of a group that can take a regional view,” Mr Robertson said.
RID officers are authorised to investigate matters in multiple council areas throughout the Hunter Valley, Newcastle and Central Coast.
The Hunter-Central Coast RID Squad is a partnership between the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and nine local councils: Cessnock, Central Coast, Upper Hunter, Muswellbrook, Singleton, Maitland, Dungog, Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. It is a NSW EPA Waste Less, Recycle More initiative, funded by the Waste Levy.