The Courier-Mail

Farmer accused of eco breach

Creek contaminat­ed

- JANESSA EKERT IN MACKAY

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.

 ??  ?? Fishing at Constant Creek.
Fishing at Constant Creek.

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