NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton says that the jailing of a serial asbestos dumper “served as an important warning to those thinking of breaking the law”. It was the first time the Land and Environment Court had been asked to consider jail time for repeat offenders, with the new sanctions available under the “new anti-dumping legislation introduced by the NSW Government in 2014”, the minister said.
“Illegal dumping, especially of asbestos waste, is a serious environmental crime and NSW has tough laws to prevent it… Any behaviour that flagrantly puts the health of the community and the environment at risk will not be tolerated,” she said.
Dib Hanna, of Colyton, was extradited from Victoria to answer the charges in a first for NSW environmental offences cases. He was subsequently charged by the NSW Environment Protection Authority under the State Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (section 144AB – repeat waste offenders).
The charges cover a period between November 2015 and January 2016, during which he delivered, or was responsible for the delivery of, contaminated topsoil to four private properties. The court heard that he offered free clean topsoil, clay, crushed bitumen and the use of an excavation machine to residents of Sydney’s north-west, via a letterbox drop.
When residents interested in the service contacted Hanna, he sent truck drivers to their properties where a total of 490,000 kilograms of waste were dumped, including material contaminated by asbestos.
Chief Justice Brian Preston found Hanna guilty for four breaches of sections 142A(1) and 143(1) of the POEO Act. The court found that he had unlawfully transported and dumped waste over a period of more than ten years.
“[In the latest incidents he] abused the trust that residential property owners had placed in him. They believed that they were receiving clean topsoil for their properties. Instead, Mr Hanna delivered them contaminated and dangerous soil… [disregarding] the health and safety of the public and the environment,” the Chief Justice said.
Hanna was sentenced to three years’ jail with a non-parole period of two years and three months, and ordered to clean up the dumped waste, pay the EPA’s costs and advertise his offences in newspapers. He will be eligible for parole in July of 2020.