EPA investigates unauthorised disposal of scrap metal processing waste

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is investigating the alleged illegal disposal of controlled waste at multiple sites in the State's North and Northwest.

The waste is likely to be or suspected to be a by-product of scrap metal shredding and further processing. It contains shredded plastics, foam, rubber, fabrics, wood fibres, soil, metals, hydrocarbons and other chemicals.

The EPA suspects hundreds of tonnes of this material have been misrepresented as inert waste, general waste or a type of 'fill'. Sites alleged to have received this waste include private landfills, a municipal landfill and a privately owned paddock.

Chemical analysis of samples of this scrap metal processing waste from sites suspected of having received it shows that it contains cadmium, copper, zinc, lead, nickel, hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls and other contaminants. These substances make it a controlled waste under the Environmental Management and Pollution Control (Waste Management) Regulations 2020. While the material is not soil, the sampled material has been assessed by the EPA as having the characteristics of a level 4 contaminated soil, which is the highest level of contamination.

The environmentally hazardous substances in scrap metal processing waste means that the only safe disposal option in Tasmania is the Copping C-Cell waste disposal facility in southern Tasmania, which is the only facility of this type in the State. Scrap metal processing waste can only be transported by registered Controlled Waste Transporters approved to carry this type of material.

The EPA is contacting Councils, private landfill operators and landowners about the potential environmental and human health risks associated with this waste and to ascertain whether additional sites have received it or been asked to receive it.

It is important to note that scrap metal processing waste may have the appearance of soil. Scrap metal processing waste should under no circumstances be used as if it was clean fill or spread on land.

The EPA is investigating this matter. If you suspect scrap metal processing waste has been disposed of at a landfill or on any other land, or if you have been asked about receiving material that may be scrap metal processing waste, call the EPA's Incident Response Hotline on 1800 005 171, or email: incidentresponse@epa.tas.gov.au

Published on: 17/07/2023