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EPA Annual Report 2018-19 now available

The EPA Annual Report 2018-19, which covers the activities of the EPA Board and Director, together with staff of EPA Tasmania (a Division of DPIPWE) over the last financial year, is now available to the public.

Some the main points in the Report, which is available to download here, include the following:

EPA Board

The current Board membership commenced on 1 January 2018 and has remained unchanged throughout the 2018-19 reporting year. The members of the Board are Warren Jones (Chair), Anthony Ferrier (Deputy Chair), Prof Colin Buxton (Member), Belinda Hazell (Member), and Wes Ford (Director). The Board met for a general Board meeting on ten occasions and for three out-of-session meetings.

Assessments

The Board undertook the environmental assessment of six proposed Level 2 activities and the Director undertook a further 20 assessments under delegation from the Board. All but three of the 26 were completed within the statutory timeframe, and no decisions were appealed or overturned due to incorrect procedures. The Report provides a list of the 44 assessments that remained underway at the year's end.

The majority of recommendations arising from the 2017 independent Review of the EPA's assessment process were implemented during the year. Key assessment documents were reviewed and new guidelines for proponents were prepared for both smaller scale projects and larger proposals.

Regulation

A total of 568 activities were regulated by the EPA in 2018-19, which included 380 Level 2 industrial activities, 83 wastewater treatment plants, 61 fish farms, 32 waste management activities, and 15 contaminated sites. Of the 380 industrial activities regulated, 132 were managed out of the EPA's northern office and 245 through the Hobart office. Collectively, the EPA issued 48 Environment Protection Notices (EPNs), undertook 79 Compliance Audits and conducted 170 site inspections of these industrial premises during the year.

A new LISTmap layer became available that shows all the sites regulated by the EPA, with links to the active legal instruments, including permit conditions, EPNs, Site Management Notices, Remediation Notices, Infringement Notices and Environmental Licences.

Salmon aquaculture regulation

The 61 salmon farming activities which were regulated by the EPA this year consisted of 45 marine farms and 16 inland hatcheries. Environmental Licences (ELs) were issued under EMPCA for all marine finfish farming leases, and the development of a new Environmental Standard for the management of marine finfish farming in Tasmania commenced. Progressive improvements were made to the environmental management of freshwater fish farms with the steady upgrade of EL conditions as a result of improvements in data and further industry input.

Wastewater

The EPA continued to work with TasWater (which manages 79 of the 82 Level 2 Wastewater Treatment Plants) to implement the key strategies set out in the Memorandum of Understanding. Improvements to the larger wastewater treatment plants were made at Blackmans Bay, Smithton and Ti-Tree Bend (Launceston).

According to the latest data available on wastewater for 2017-18, the State reused the highest volume of treated effluent to date, with 5,418ML (10.7%) being diverted from water to land, typically for reuse in the irrigation of golf courses, agricultural land and municipal recreational areas.

Waste and Contaminated Site Management

According to the latest waste data available for 2017-18, the State generated an estimated 771,308 tonnes of waste. Of this, approximately 439,600 tonnes (57%) was disposed of to landfill and 258,211 tonnes (34%) was recycled or composted.

Note that waste data for the State over the last decade shows that the amount disposed of to landfill has remained relatively constant despite an increasing trend in the amount of waste generated. Contributing factors are the significant increase in recycling and composting rates along with improved data collection and reporting.

The EPA continued to participate in the nationally coordinated response to the management of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), coordinating the release of the Tasmanian PFAS Action Plan in October 2018. The EPA worked with Airservices Australia, culminating in the release of their Preliminary Site Investigation reports into PFAS contamination at Hobart Airport (October 2018) and Launceston Airport (June 2019).

Enforcement and Incident Response

The EPA fined a commercial fish waste processor $6,280 for the illegal discharge of a controlled waste into the waters of Spring Bay, Triabunna in April 2017. It issued 16 Infringement Notices and 8 Written Warnings under EMPCA; and 111 Infringement Notices, 6 Warnings and one Abatement Notice under the Litter Act.

The EPA was required to apply its environmental powers to respond to the arrival of the Ocean Monarch oil rig in the River Derwent in December 2018. It responded to numerous reports of marine pollution incidents involving the grounding, sinking and/or salvage of small to medium sized vessels in State waters (several at their moorings), and also attended several road transport pollution incidents.

Scientific and Technical Advice

The EPA continued to monitor ambient air particles of less than 10 and 25 microns (PM10 and PM2.5, respectively) against the national 24-hour standards at its three reference stations in Hobart, Launceston and Devonport. There were no exceedences of the 24-hour national standard for the larger sized particles measured at the three stations, but there was one exceedence of the 24-hour PM25 national standard on one day in 2018 at Hobart and Devonport, and on ten days at Launceston. The biggest smoke impacts from the January 2019 bushfires, measured by the EPA's BLANkET network, were in the Huon Valley, with exceptionally high smoke levels measured at Geeveston and Cygnet, followed by Huonville and Judbury.

Long term water quality monitoring in Macquarie Harbour continued; and water quality indicators were monitored on a seasonal basis from nine locations across Storm Bay, and on a monthly basis from sites in the Derwent Estuary, D'Entrecasteaux Channel and Storm Bay. to independently validate information collected for aquaculture activities.

Of the 16 noise surveys conducted by the EPA during the year, three related to noise from marine farming operations, four were in support of Local Government noise issues, eight were for long-term comparisons, and one survey related to the Ocean Monarch oil rig.

Community Engagement

The EPA continued its sponsorship of the EPA Sustainability Award category of the Tasmanian Community Achievement Awards, the Kids for Kids Conference and the Tamar Sustainable Living Expo.

The EPA continued to develop and participate in educational activities about litter and waste, strengthening its focus on school education with the release of teaching resources for primary schools on plastic and paper waste during the year.

The EPA produced 38 news stories and responded to 62 separate media enquiries. The Ocean Monarch oil rig was the subject of the most media enquiries to the EPA in 2018-19 followed by salmon aquaculture, River Derwent water quality, Longford odour issues and illegal rubbish dumping.

More detailed information is available in the Annual Report, and a copy is available below.

  EPA Annual Report 2018-19   (3Mb)