This year’s Annual Report for the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) was Tabled in Parliament by Elise Archer MP, Minister for Environment and Parks on Tuesday 31 October and is available here. It provides an outline of the key activities and achievements of the EPA during the reporting year.
Some of the main highlights of the EPA Annual Report 2016-17 are summarised below.
EPA Board Achievements: The EPA Board met for a general Board meeting on 12 occasions and there were six out of session meetings. One Board member, Catherine Murdoch took up a position in Government, requiring her to resign from the Board in accordance with the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 (EMPCA). The EPA Strategic Plan 2016-19 was completed, and the EPA responded to the Minister’s Statement of Expectation with its Statement of Intent for 2016-18. The Board commenced to review its assessment process for Level 2 activities, the Annual Fee Remission Scheme and the provision of regulatory information to the public.
Salmon industry regulation: The regulation of the salmon industry was transferred from the Secretary of the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) to the EPA Director. The EPA was actively involved in developing the legislative changes required for future regulation of the salmon industry under EMPCA, and it commenced the day-to-day regulation with the establishment of a new Salmon Environmental Management Section with seven dedicated staff and an additional scientific advisor.
Assessment and Regulation: During the year, 17 assessments were processed by the Board or Director during the year and 61 remained in progress at 30 June 2016. In its regulation of around 500 Level 2 activities, the EPA issued 64 EPNs, undertook 97 compliance audits and conducted 152 site inspections.
Wastewater: The EPA continued to work strategically with TasWater to improve Tasmania’s public wastewater management, agreeing to adopt a strategy to generate a 50% improvement in compliance by December 2019. Data available on wastewater for 2015-16, which is collated by the EPA for the Tasmanian Water and Sewerage State of the Industry Report 2015-16, is provided.
Waste and Contaminated Site Management: In 2016-17, the State generated an estimated 636,342 tonnes of waste and approximately 223,483 tonnes was recovered through recycling and composting, while approximately 412,864 tonnes was landfilled. The latter consisted of municipal (41.24%), commercial and industrial (50.97%), and construction and demolition waste (7.79%).
Enforcement and Incident Response: A new public reporting system was implemented and of the 962 reports recorded for the period 15 August 2016 to 30 June 2017, 541 were complaints, with a significant number related to a single issue. Seven infringement notices were completed for offences including: failing to comply with a contaminated sites remediation notice; not complying with regulations for the decommissioning of an underground petroleum storage system; the illegal disposal of a controlled waste (liquid containing hydrocarbons) onto private property; breaching permit conditions at a fish processing plant; and emitting nuisance odour from a fish waste processing facility.
Scientific and Technical Advice: The EPA expanded its already extensive network of air monitoring stations, developing a new relocatable air monitoring station and installing a real-time monitoring station at Hobart Port to measure emissions from cruise ships. Ongoing water quality monitoring continued to investigate the unique hydrology of Macquarie Harbour, particularly oxygen depletion observed through the water column and at different sites in the harbour. The EPA conducted 14 noise surveys in response to potentially noisy activities; one was in relation to noise from marine farm equipment, three were in support of local councils and seven related to noise from Level 2 activities.
Community Engagement: The EPA continued its engagement with stakeholders in industry, Local government and the community, and worked to provide a sufficient level of transparency surrounding decisions of high public interest. There were 55 news stories published on the EPA website and 152 media inquiries dealt with, almost trebling the number of the previous year. A significant number of these were in relation to the environmental regulation of the salmon industry.