EPA uncovers ‘free shed’ scam in Sydney, residents delivered contaminated soil

EPA uncovers ‘free shed’ scam in Sydney, residents delivered contaminated soil

Residents across Sydney’s Hills District are urged to be cautious after the EPA uncovered a scam where residents were targeted with offers of “fill with a free shed”, only to discover that property owners were delivered contaminated material.

Victims of the scam responded to an ad on Gumtree, where in exchange for a free shed on their property, they would receive soil. The company then delivered the soil, flattened it out and built a large shed on top.

EPA officers tracked the recipients of the soil and sheds and found that many of the soil delivered contained contaminants from demolition waste, while some even contained asbestos particles.

EPA Director Major Compliance and Investigations Greg Sheehy explained that there was significant costs associated with cleaning up the material.

“The simple message is that if the dirt deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is,” Mr Sheehy said.

“Dodgy waste companies deliver the fill material with promises that it is clean, only for our officers to test it and find that it contains building and demolition waste, heavy metals and even asbestos. In some cases, initial loads looked clean but subsequent loads were a problem.

“Residents need to treat offers of free or cheap fill extremely carefully and treat offers like a free shed with suspicion.

“Our investigations are showing us it’s common for dodgy operators to advertise through classified ad websites, roadside signage, letterbox drops or doorknocking directly. Often these people will promise their landfill is ‘guaranteed clean’ or ‘certified’ and will even offer to deliver and level the soil for free. To the untrained eye, the soil may seem fine but unfortunately, this is not always the case.”

“Not all operators are dodgy but it is worth taking a minute to consider where the fill you are bringing onto your property is coming from and if you can know for sure that it is clean,” Mr Sheehy said.

“Free fill may come at no price, but it can have a hefty cost if it turns out to be contaminated.”


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