Liverpool Local Court has convicted and fined a Sydney man for waste and pollution offences at a property in Rossmore, NSW, after a successful investigation and prosecution by the NSW Environment Protection Authority.
Mr Fouad Arja was convicted after the EPA investigation, which utilised covert surveillance footage, using drones and CCTV, in addition to a search warrant conducted by the NSW Police Force.
Mr Arja was convicted of three environmental offences, including failing to comply with a prevention notice, land pollution and carrying out unlicensed scheduled activity by way of waste disposal. He pleaded guilty to all three offences.
Magistrate Imad Abdul-Karim convicted Mr Arja and fined him for each offence, amounting to a total of $180,000 in fines, and also required him to pay the legal and investigative costs of the EPA, which cost $90,000.
EPA Executive Director Regulatory Operations Carmen Dwyer explained that the investigation came from a tip-off from a local council and community members.
“An initial inspection of the property found stockpiles of demolition waste, more than 500 waste tyres and wrecked vehicles across on the five-acre semi-rural residential block,” Ms Dwyer said.
“After officers became aware of potential offences by the defendant, EPA drone surveillance revealed extensive stockpiling of a variety of waste, and also captured trucks delivering suspected demolition waste material.
“Testing of some of the waste material revealed it was contaminated, with the presence of asbestos detected.”
After the notice was served, the surveillance by the EPA captured continued activity from trucks entering the property to dispose of waste.
The search warrant was issued and executed, with significant volumes of demolition waste found at the property.
Ms Dwyer said the actions of Mr Arja put other community members at risk.
“The EPA is warning anyone trying to hide contaminated waste that it will use the best technology to ensure human and environmental health is protected. We expect everyone in the community to follow the rules when it comes to handling contaminated waste.”
The EPA is working to ensure the site is appropriately and safely remediated.