Australia’s largest waste management company under fire from EPA

Australia’s largest waste management company under fire from EPA

A waste management company has come under fire from the NSW Environmental Protection Authority, over a range of concerns regarding its operations and alleged ‘zero harm’ safety policy.

Cleanaway Waste Management, the nation’s largest waste management company, has been hit with licensing conditions, warning letters and show cause notices after the NSW branch of the EPA uncovered “consistent areas of concern” after it attended 26 company sites earlier this year. The blitz was triggered by two chemical spills at one of the company’s operations in the ACT.

Of the 26 sites, only one was marked as ‘no action’, meaning the EPA would not improve the conditions at the site.

Various concerns were raised by EPA inspectors, including precarious storage conditions for chemicals, incorrect cleaning processes for liquid waste and incorrectly labelling waste materials. The EPA inspectors also found that several sites had “poorly maintained” stormwater systems that showed the “potential for wastewater and debris entering [the] stormwater system”.

In addition to the standards at the sites, workers were found to have “poor knowledge” of site drainage, while incident response plans from the company were out of date, in addition to documents at some sites that were “incorrect, missing or illegible”.

EPA NSW has confirmed that it met with Cleanaway in August. EPA Director Steve Beaman explained the purpose as voicing concerns “about Cleanaway’s management of its operations to mitigate risk to the environment and to prevent pollution in the event of an incident”.

“Cleanaway’s aim of ‘Zero Harm’ is admirable, however, the observations made during the EPA inspections indicate Cleanaway is some way off achieving this aim and that significant improvement and immediate actions are required,” Mr Beaman told Cleanaway.

“In addition to any immediate action required, the EPA is requesting Cleanaway provide and implement an environmental improvement and risk reduction plan for all its sites in NSW.”

A Cleanaway spokesman said the company was “committed to maintaining the highest levels of safety and compliance.”

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