Australia

Vic miner fined over illegal waste storage

A gold exploration company has been fined for agreeing to illegally store industrial waste at its Victorian site during 2014-15.

A Victorian miner that illegally stored waste faces a bill of almost $400,000 in penalties and clean up costs.

Nagambie Resources has been fined $20,000 and ordered to pay more than $10,000 in costs for dumping at its site during 2014-15.

The gold exploration company pleaded guilty to two counts of accepting industrial waste without an EPA licence, after agreeing to illegally store electronic waste and a vegetable oil by-product.

The Seymour Magistrates Court was told it was paid more than $54,000 to accept almost 380 tonnes of e-waste material.

When Environment Protection Authority Victoria officers inspected the site in late 2016, they found two soil stockpiles 40 metres long, leaching an oil substance.

A large stockpile of black glass, plastic and circuitry boards was also found, which Nagambie Resources had tried to bury.

The EPA has ordered Nagambie Resources remove all e-waste and treat the contaminated soil by 2020.

So far, it has spent $70,000 to clean up the site and estimates the ongoing e-waste clean up would cost more than $300,000.

In his ruling last Friday, Magistrate David Faram found the breach significant and said it was it difficult to understand why the waste was accepted in the first place.

But he spared the company a conviction, saying it was doing all it could to rectify its offending.

EPA CEO Cathy Wilkinson said the community is fed up with the scourge of illegal dumping.

"While the company claimed it was only storing the waste, it didn't have a licence for that either," she said.

"Licensing is not about creating red-tape for operators, it's about ensuring the environment and the public is properly protected.

"E-waste has the potential to leach chemicals, including lead, into the ground, which is a risk to environmental and public health."

Dr Wilkinson said the company should have contacted EPA as soon as it was approached by companies seeking to offload the waste.

From July 1 next year, maximum penalties and fines for repeat illegal waste dumping will significantly increase and could lead to jail time.

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