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$15,000 fine for sewage sludge spill

21 May 2010

A Tasmanian waste transport business has been fined $15,000 after one of its vehicles spilled sewage sludge on a busy arterial road in Hobart.

Environment Protection Authority Director Warren Jones said the prosecution should serve as a warning to others in the industry to ensure waste is properly secured and transported.

Jones Enviro Services Pty Ltd appeared in the Launceston Court of Petty Sessions this week (May 20) for sentence after pleading guilty to eight charges under environmental legislation and regulations.

Mr Jones said sewage sludge spilled from an open skip bin on a company truck on to the South Arm Highway near the Mornington roundabout on 1 June 2009.

“The material initially covered an area of about nine square metres but was picked up by the tyres of passing traffic and distributed along roads in the area,” he said.

“The potential for environmental harm was compounded by the fact that the spill site drains into the Kangaroo Bay Rivulet, a tributary of the River Derwent.

“The company breached the conditions of its operating permit which requires waste containing free liquid to be carried in sealed, leak-proof containers and non-liquid wastes to be covered during transit to prevent loss or spillage.

“At the time of the incident, the sewage sludge was being transported in an open skip bin. This is clearly unacceptable.”

Mr Jones said the company also breached the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 by failing to notify the EPA within 24 hours of the incident. However, sludge at the spill site was cleared within two hours of the incident occurring.