Two NSW firms have collectively received four fines totalling $60,000 for a range of environmental breaches, including the unlawful use of asbestos in road construction.
The state’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) issued the penalties after investigating Coast Wide Skips multiple times over waste storage issues between October 2015 and August 2016.
According to the EPA, the company stored above the maximum limit of waste without a licence at its West Gosford site. The organisation also committed further, more serious offences while transporting and disposing of waste.
The EPA discovered the firm was moving debris to a rural property on Wiseman’s Ferry Road in Somersby, meaning it was guilty of using a place as a waste facility without lawful authority and no licence.
Use of asbestos waste
The rural property at which Coast Wide Skips was dumping waste is being turned into new properties and the development owner, Wytown Pty Ltd, began using the debris to build internal roads.
EPA officers discovered that the waste contained typical building materials such as brick, concrete, timber and plastic. However, it was the presence of asbestos that caused the most concern for the environmental authority.
The hazardous material can cause serious health issues, including fatal lung diseases such as mesothelioma. The illness resulted in 626 deaths in the country in 2015, according to the latest data from the Australian Mesothelioma Registry.
Wytown is now working closely with the EPA to clean up the waste before further work on the development can continue.
“EPA officers tracked this waste from the source to the deposit point and were able to spot an environmental hazard before any irreparable harm could be caused. Using such waste in the development of a rural-residential estate is totally unacceptable,” said EPA Waste Compliance Manager Cate Woods.
Paying EPA penalties
Coast Wide Skips and Wytown received two fines of $15,000 each for multiple environmental breaches, but this wasn’t the first time in 2017 that the EPA has issued penalties for asbestos-related incidents.
In May, the organisation fined State Asphalts NSW Pty $15,000 for stockpiling waste that contained the deadly substance, despite the firm not having an appropriate licence.
“Uncontrolled stockpiling of asbestos waste has the potential to cause harm to both the environment and human health,” said NSW EPA Director for Waste Compliance Greg Sheehy.
People who are exposed to asbestos during the course of their employment may be eligible for compensation if they later develop dust diseases, such as asbestosis and mesothelioma.
If you’d like to discuss these issues with an experienced law firm, please contact Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers for more information.