Jail for tyre dump owner

The Cobram Courier - - NEWS -

A Nu­murkah man was last week sen­tenced to jail for fail­ing to com­ply with a Supreme Court di­rec­tion to clean up a mas­sive dump of tyres which posed a dan­ger­ous fire risk.

Along with the four-month sen­tence handed down, Shanan James Side­bot­tom, 34, from Side­bot­tom Group Pty Ltd, of which he is the sole di­rec­tor, was fined $50 000.

The prison sen­tence re­port­edly came as some­what of a shock to Moira Shire, which brought the pro­ceed­ings, but the coun­cil be­lieved jus­tice had been served, ac­cord­ing to chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Hen­der­son.

‘‘Clearly, we got a judge­ment that went beyond what the coun­cil asked for,’’ he said.

The judge­ment handed down in Mel­bourne last Mon­day by Jus­tice Rita Zammit came at the end of a long court process, which started in 2013 when Moira Shire Coun­cil sought a VCAT en­force­ment or­der to have the tyres re­moved.

The pro­ceed­ings started af­ter a fire that same year when part of the stor­age area caught alight.

For five years, the court process wound on as the CFA and En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Author­ity be­came in­creas­ingly alert to the pos­si­bil­ity of a fire out­break which had the po­ten­tial to en­gulf the town in toxic smoke.

‘‘We wel­come the news the Supreme Court has found in our favour and im­posed a suit­able penalty given that the most re­cent CFA risk as­sess­ment of the site is ex­treme with po­ten­tially cat­a­strophic im­pacts on the Nu­murkah com­mu­nity were a large fire to take hold of the site,’’ Mr Hen­der­son said. A CFA spokesper­son agreed. ‘‘Any large pile of tyres poses a sig­nif­i­cant risk to the lo­cal com­mu­nity if it caught fire. The toxic smoke and par­ti­cles the fire pro­duces are very dan­ger­ous and could greatly im­pact res­i­dents and their land,’’ they said.

How­ever, the judge­ment is the start of a new prob­lem; what to do about the tyres.

The EPA had de­ferred ad­dress­ing the is­sue un­til the court process was ex­hausted. Mean­while, EPA and CFA re-or­dered the pile to com­part­men­talise it in the case of a fire.

State Mem­ber for Shep­par­ton Suzanna Sheed has been li­ais­ing with the En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter’s of­fice, seek­ing fund­ing to have the site cleaned up.

‘‘I raised it in par­lia­ment and I also met with Nial Fine­gan who’s the (for­mer) CEO of the EPA, around the time the Stawell is­sue was hap­pen­ing,’’ she said.

The gov­ern­ment paid for the re­moval of 380 truck-load of tyres, com­pris­ing 9500 tonnes, from a sim­i­lar tyre dump in Stawell last year.

Ms Sheed wants a com­mit­ment from the gov­ern­ment to help with the Nu­murkah site be­fore care­taker mode starts on Oc­to­ber 30, ahead of the Novem­ber elec­tion.

‘‘We’ve con­tacted the min­is­ter’s of­fice and we’re fol­low­ing that up to see if we can get a meet­ing fairly ur­gently,’’ she said.

Costly clean-up: Fail­ure to re­move the large tyre dump at Nu­murkah has seen one man jailed and presents a cost clean-up prob­lem and dan­ger­ous fire risk for Moira Shire Coun­cil.

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