Jail for tyre dump owner
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.