$4.5m pay­back for Stawell tyres

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Au­thor­ity Vic­to­ria has started le­gal pro­ceed­ings to re­cover costs as­so­ci­ated with re­mov­ing an es­ti­mated one-mil­lion car tyres from a stock­pile in Stawell.

Au­thor­ity chief ex­ec­u­tive Dr Cathy Wilkin­son said the Supreme Court had or­dered In­ter­net Mar­ket­ing So­lu­tions to im­me­di­ately pay the EPA $4.5-mil­lion.

She said the court has also placed an in­junc­tion on the com­pany to pre­vent it from sell­ing.

“This is the EPA’S first step in the process of re­cov­er­ing costs in­curred in re­mov­ing the huge tyre stock­pile that pre­sented a great hu­man health and en­vi­ron­men­tal risk to Stawell and its sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties,” Dr Wilkin­son said.

The case has been ad­journed to al­low fu­ture court or­ders if re­quired.

Dr Wilkin­son said the process to re­move the tyres started on Au­gust 9, 2017, when EPA de­cided the stock­pile owner had made lit­tle to no ef­fort to com­ply with a Coun­try Fire Au­thor­ity fire pre­ven­tion no­tice and three EPA no­tices.

“The EPA no­tices re­quired the owner of the stock­pile to re­duce the risk of fire at the site and to seg­re­gate tyres into smaller piles,” she said.

“By not com­ply­ing with these re­quire­ments, EPA be­lieved the stock­pile ap­peared to have been aban­doned or was be­ing han­dled in a man­ner that was likely to cause an en­vi­ron­men­tal haz­ard.”

Re­moval of the stock­pile in­volved EPA, North­ern Grampians Shire Coun­cil, CFA, Vic­to­ria Po­lice, Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment, Land, Wa­ter and Plan­ning, Gwmwa­ter, Emer­gency Man­age­ment Vic­to­ria and Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices. EPA also hired pri­vate-sec­tor part­ners and Wim­mera sub­con­trac­tors to re­move the stock­pile.

Dr Wilkin­son said tyres, de­spite be­ing hard to ig­nite, were hard to ex­tin­guish when on fire

“Tyres are made of com­pounds that can cause rapid com­bus­tion, in­clud­ing car­bon, oil, ben­zene, toluene, rub­ber and sul­phur,” she said.

“The risk in Stawell was com­pounded by size and con­fig­u­ra­tion of the stock­pile.

“In the event of a fire at the stock­pile, we would have likely seen 7000 peo­ple evac­u­ated from Stawell.

“A fire would have im­pacted on the brand of Grampians tourism in ar­eas such as Great West­ern, Pyre­nees and Grampians wine re­gions.

“The en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts would have in­cluded air qual­ity, fire­wa­ter runoff into lo­cal wa­ter­ways and land con­tam­i­na­tion.

“By re­mov­ing this stock­pile, EPA re­moved these risks to both the com­mu­nity and our en­vi­ron­ment.”

Strong mes­sage

Dr Wilkin­son said the pro­ceed­ings should be a mes­sage to any­one stor­ing a large stock­pile of tyres.

“Un­der EPA reg­u­la­tions, busi­nesses that store more than 40 tonnes or 5000 EPUS must ob­tain a works ap­proval be­fore a fa­cil­ity is built as well as an EPA li­cence to op­er­ate,” she said.

“Sites above the thresh­old might be is­sued with re­me­dial no­tices by EPA re­quir­ing them to re­duce their stock­piles to be­low 5000 EPU and, if ap­pli­ca­ble, mod­ify stock­pile ar­range­ment due to fire risks.

“Those who do not com­ply with the guide­lines can ex­pect EPA to use the full force of its pow­ers to ad­dress en­vi­ron­men­tal and pub­lic health risk from il­le­gally stored tyre stock­piles and to seek to re­cover any costs in­curred if EPA steps in to re­move the po­ten­tial en­vi­ron­men­tal haz­ard.”

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