The Victorian branch of the Environmental Protection Authority and Hume City Council have urged local residents to be on alert and to report dumpers who have been unloading contaminated soil in public areas and on streets of the region.
EPA Northern Metro Regional Manager Jeremy Settle has said that operators have been discovered dumping asbestos-contaminated soil in industrial estates and public spaces in Melbourne’s North.
“This deliberate pollution is contaminating your suburb, town or neighbourhood. It’s a criminal offence and your help with something as simple as noting down a truck number plate can enable the EPA to track down the offender,” Mr Settle said.
“EPA can fine or prosecute them; we can even make them clean it up, and it all starts with that call from a member of the public,” he said.
Regulations in Victoria state that soil, or fill, that contains even a small amount of asbestos must be disposed of at a properly licensed facility.
Director of Sustainable Infrastructure and Services at Hume City Council, Peter Waite, explained that the community often wears the cost of the illegal waste incidents.
“By avoiding the cost of proper disposal, offenders are lining their own pockets and undercutting honest local businesses with suspiciously cheap quotes for demolition and clean-up work,” Mr Waite said.
“A prompt report to the Council or EPA with any identifying details can make sure the culprit pays the price, not the community,” Mr Waite said.
The EPA is urging members of the public to closely examine quotes if they are selecting contractors and not to hesitate if they see activity they believe to be suspicious.
“Being choosy as a customer and reporting suspect dumping to the EPA can make all the difference. It’s your community, and this is a way you can protect it from waste crime and pollution,” Mr Settle said.
Red flags for customers, in addition to suspicious activity, includes companies that provide demolition services well below the usual rates or buying soil or fill from unknown online sources – the advice is always to ensure the operator you are dealing with is responsible.
The EPA is encouraging residents to report any suspicious activity they notice, no matter how small. Mr Settle explained that the details can be useful as the EPA investigates, saying, “If you have noticed recent dumping of large soil piles in your community, we are looking for any information on times, dates, vehicles and any persons seen.”