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Vic bulk handler pleads guilty to illegal waste fire

Grain Central, March 11, 2024

Watson’s Bulk Logistics operates at three locations in Victoria’s northwest region. Photo: WBL

VICTORIAN grain storage company Watson’s Bulk Logistics and its director have been found guilty of illegally burning off plastic grain tarps and other waste materials that should have gone to an appropriately licensed facility.

A Horsham Magistrate ordered the company and director, Joel Watson, to pay costs and contribute to a local Country Fire Authority.

Watson’s Bulk Logistics operates facilities at Lascelles, Marnoo and Ouyen and provides transport, container packaging and grain storage services.

In September 2022, Environment Protection Authority Victoria officers attended the Lascelles facility in the Mallee region in response to a pollution report alleging plastic grain cover tarps were being burnt.

They found a pile of smouldering waste containing partially burnt plastic grain covers, drink cans, spray cans, plastic grease cartridges, PVC, glass, an oil filter, tyres, various metal items and a mattress.

Burning waste of this type produces air pollution.

A later desktop analysis estimated the volume of burnt waste to be as much as 40,080 litres, roughly equivalent to 80 car boot-loads of waste.

EPA issued a notice to clean up the burnt waste, which was complied with, and charged the company and its director, Joel Watson, with offences under the Environment Protection Act 2017.

Entering guilty pleas, Magistrate Bailey placed the company, without conviction, on a 12-month good behaviour bond, and required them to pay a $7500 donation to CFA Lascelles, plus $1113 in costs to EPA.

Against Mr Watson, Magistrate Bailey, without conviction, also placed him on a 12-month good behaviour bond, with a $2500 donation to CFA Lascelles, and ordered him to pay $1113 in costs to EPA.

In a February 2023 release, EPA stated that it had fined Watson’s Bulk Logistics $9246 for the incident.

The statement the company had the right to have the infringement notice reviewed or be considered by a court.

EPA North-West regional manager Scott Pigdon said whether the burning was deliberate or accidental, it was a source of toxic smoke and possible contamination of the soil and local waterways.

“This was both illegal and hazardous to human health and the environment. Industrial waste like this must be taken to a properly licensed landfill or recycling facility. It’s the only way to do the right thing by the environment and your community,” Dr Pigdon said.

“Leaving the ash and partially burnt waste there means the next rain will take the material straight to the nearest creek or stormwater drain.”

Source: EPA Victoria

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