Farmer accused of eco breach
A MACKAY cane farmer could face up to a $600,000 fine or a jail term over allegations he “intentionally, recklessly or with gross negligence” contaminated a popular fishing spot.
It is alleged Rodney Victor Vassallo dumped up to 320 tonnes of construction and demolition waste in Constant Creek, which backs onto his Mount Jukes property.
He is facing allegations of serious Environmental Protection Act breaches that garner a maximum $600,525 fine or two years’ jail.
Court documents state a Department of Environment and Science officer has alleged Mr Vassallo dumped “180 to 320 tonnes of building, construction and demolition waste including bricks and concrete cuttings” at Constant Creek.
It is alleged the waste spanned about 170 metres along the bank and into the water.
In the documents the construction and demolition waste was described as “bricks and concrete blocks with reinforcing bar steel protruding from the concrete” and allegedly caused “adverse and potential adverse effects”.
DES has alleged Mr Vassallo “caused material environmental harm recklessly or with gross negligence”.
Mr Vassallo has been charged with one count each of wilfully and unlawfully causing. He also has been charged with material environmental harm and unlawfully depositing a prescribed water contaminant in waters between June 12, 2019 and January 11, 2020, at Mount Jukes.
“The contaminant was under the (Mr Vassallo‘s) control and (he) placed the contaminant at (Constant Creek) and did not remove it within a reasonable time,” the document stated.
Mr Vassallo is further charged with breaching the Planning Act 2016 over allegedly carrying out assessable development without a permit.
DES has alleged Mr Vassallo conducted operational work in a coastal management district “by disposing of solid waste material, including bricks and concrete blocks” with protruding steel bars in tidal water.
“It was necessary for a development permit to be in effect for operational work in coastal management district, authorising the assessable development,” the document stated.
“At all material times no development permit was in effect.”
Matters were mentioned in Mackay Magistrates Court this week where Mr Vassallo’s barrister Stephen Byrne said the case would be “a likely plea” and asked for an adjournment to confirm instructions.
The case will be mentioned again in April.