Ef­flu­ent plan still in the bog

Driv­ers are stuck in sticky laws


THE sit­u­a­tion is crappy, live­stock trans­porters have nowhere to dump ef­flu­ent and the le­gal­i­ties be­hind the sit­u­a­tions have not been re­solved, leav­ing driv­ers sus­cep­ti­ble to fines for un­re­strained loads.

It has been over six months since Big Rigs first high­lighted the ef­flu­ent issue, de­spite com­mit­ments to re­solve re­solve the prob­lem live­stock trans­porters con­tinue to run the risk of penal­ties of up to $550 for ef­flu­ent spillage, cur­rently classed as an un­re­strained load.

A re­quire­ment that will con­tinue un­der the amended Chain of Re­spon­si­bil­ity ac­cord­ing to an NHVR spokesper­son.

$550 is a high price to pay when driv­ers have limited dump­ing op­tions.

Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Australian Live­stock Ru­ral Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion Mathew Mun­roe has taken this issue right to the seat of ru­ral power, lob­by­ing re­gional rep­re­sen­ta­tives at the re­cent Na­tion­als con­fer­ence in Can­berra.

“When ef­flu­ent or any other ma­te­rial is dis­lodged from a heavy ve­hi­cle it is treated as a load re­strain of­fence – de­pend­ing on the level of how the fine is is­sued it can be $550 it can be more,” Mr Mun­roe said.

“The prob­lem we face is that driv­ers are do­ing the right thing by con­tain­ing the ef­flu­ent in the tank – which ac­cu­mu­lates 300 litres or so of ma­te­rial but have no where to dump it.

“I have been talk­ing to op­er­a­tors that feel like crim­i­nals, driv­ing around on the roads try­ing to find a place to de­posit the ma­te­rial, when there just isn’t any­where avail­able.

“If they dump it in a sen­si­tive area, the fine un­der EPA could even reach up to $8000.

“It needs a whole of sup­ply chain so­lu­tion and we need fa­cil­i­ties in hotspots so we thought it was a good op­por­tu­nity to go speak to some of the fed­eral mem­bers, par­tic­u­larly from north­ern NSW and South­ern Queens­land about a plan we are propos­ing.”

While a num­ber of the fed­eral mem­bers were re­cep­tive, Mr Mun­roe said many weren’t aware of the sit­u­a­tion.

The ALRTA hopes to se­cure gov­ern­ment fund­ing for ef­flu­ent dump­ing fa­cil­i­ties sim­i­lar to those es­tab­lished in New Zealand.

“They have pro­gram to put man­age­ment fa­cil­i­ties in the from of a slip road and grid, with park­ing fa­cil­i­ties to drain into hold­ing tanks,” he said.

“It is quick and sim­ple and free for driv­ers to use to keep the road clean.”

Spokesper­son for the De­part­ment of In­fra­struc­ture and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment how­ever said the is­sues re­quires a multi-faceted ap­proach.

“The Na­tional Trans­port Com­mis­sion, to­gether with in­dus­try groups and the Na­tional Heavy Ve­hi­cle Reg­u­la­tor, is un­der­tak­ing con­sul­ta­tion on pro­pos­als to more ex­plic­itly recog­nise the role of an­i­mal preparation in the sup­ply chain, un­der the Heavy Ve­hi­cle Na­tional Law HVNL,” the spokesper­son said.

“The aim is to find ways to bet­ter en­sure farm­ers, pre­pares and driv­ers un­der­stand their role in en­sur­ing safe live­stock trans­port.”

Un­for­tu­nately for driv­ers, there is only so much preparation that can be done, with a clear need for fa­cil­i­tates to be put in place when trav­el­ling long dis­tances.

Un­til such a time it seems the pow­ers that be will also con­tinue to pros­e­cute.

“The re­lease or spillage of ef­flu­ent cre­ates a safety risk on roads, and there­fore all par­ties in the chain of re­spon­si­bil­ity (not just trans­port op­er­a­tors) will con­tinue to have a duty to man­age the risk,” an NHVR spokesper­son said.

The NTC is still un­der­tak­ing the review and up­date of the Load Re­straint Guide on the mat­ter, which could also hold gra­ziers to ac­count.

STUCK: Live­stock trans­porters are caught be­tween a lack of fa­cil­i­ties and po­ten­tial fines. IN­SET: Big Rigs cov­ered the issue ear­lier this year.

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