More than a tonne of asbestos waste has been unable to be located after a Sydney earthmoving company submitted fake documentation which claimed it had lawfully disposed of the waste. However, Aussie Earthmovers faced the Land and Environment Court this week and was fined $450,000 by the NSW Environmental Protection Agency.
It was heard in court that the company had arranged for the removal of 134 truckloads of asbestos waste from a construction site in inner Sydney from June to July in 2016. The subsequent investigation by the EPA found that only one of the loads had been disposed of lawfully.
The investigation failed to uncover the remaining asbestos-containing waste, with the company providing fraudulent documentation to the construction company it had been paid by.
The maximum penalty for knowingly supplying false information to the EPA is $500,000 for a corporation. Aussie Earthmovers did not appear in court to answer the charges.
Justice Nicola Pain explained in her judgement that “a high penalty is warranted in the circumstances.” The company will also have to pay the EPA’s legal costs incurred.
The EPA’s director of major compliance and investigations, Greg Sheehy, explained that the penalties should send a message to “rogue operators”.
“The judgment shows how seriously this type of criminal behaviour is regarded by both the courts and the EPA,” Mr Sheehy said.
“These crimes by rogue operators defraud honest companies, damage the environment and can harm human health. The EPA will pursue offenders and prosecute to the full extent of the law.”