A Sydney-based tip truck driver has received a record fine of $225,000 for dumping asbestos waste on both private and public land at Picnic Point.
Dib Hanna of Colyton is a habitual offender, having already been prosecuted 11 times for a string of incidents that involve the illegal transportation and dumping of waste materials.
In 2012, Mr Hanna was caught on CCTV forcing his way through a fence surrounding a vacant block of land and leaving approximately 80 tonnes of building waste on the site, the Sydney Morning Herald reported in a September 23 article.
The refuse consisted of bricks, plastic, concrete and fragments of chrysotile and amosite asbestos. He later dumped a further 10 tonnes of material at a Bankstown City Council reserve.
Asbestos is a dangerous substance that has been linked to a number of life-threatening diseases including mesothelioma and asbestosis. More than 10,000 people have succumbed to mesothelioma in Australia since the 1980s, according to The Mesothelioma Center.
In fact, the country has one of the highest rate of deaths for the asbestos-related illness in the world, second only to the UK.
Mr Hanna’s latest fine means he has accumulated around $425,000 in penalties for dumping waste, many of which have been left unpaid.
This has resulted in him being placed on a payment plan, whereby he must pay back $300 a month until 2072.
The penalty, which was handed down by Land and Environment Court judge Brian Preston last month (September 23), is the biggest ever in NSW for this type of offence.
While Mr Hanna pleaded guilty to four offences relating to transportation and dumping of waste, his case led to the implementation of new laws to ensure that serial offenders can be sent to prison.
The legislation was introduced after Mr Hanna’s offences were committed, but a Bankstown Council spokesman has urged the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to pursue jail terms in future cases.
Commenting on the fine, the representative told the Australian Associated Press: “We are very happy with the result, as it sends a clear message to anyone who wants to use the streets of Sydney as a dumping ground.
“The court said he has been caught 33 times right across Sydney so we’re calling on the EPA to take action on behalf of residents.”
Anyone who thinks they may have been exposed to asbestos or would like to make an asbestosis claim should contact compensation lawyers to discuss their options.