The latest Annual Report of the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is now available for viewing on the EPA website at EPA Annual Report 20115-16.
The reporting period from 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016 was the EPA’s first full year of operation under the new Board and Director.
Some of the highlights in this year’s Report include the following:
• During the year, 25 assessments were processed by the EPA with all but one completed within the statutory timeframe and there were 46 assessments underway at 30 June 2016. Approximately 515 Level 2 activities were regulated by the EPA during the year, and around 360 of these were industrial operations, including activities such as mining and extractive, metallurgical and chemical, food and textile processing, wood processing, wastewater treatment, and waste management.
• During the year, the EPA worked co-operatively with Hydro Tasmania to enable the operation of additional power generators for the State during the energy crisis. This became a priority for staff from assessments, scientific monitoring and regulation. Emergency authorisations were issued under EMPCA to enable the early operation of the generators at seven sites across the State to provide the additional power required for Hydro Tasmania’s Energy Supply Plan.
• The EPA continued to work strategically with TasWater as the statewide manager of Tasmania’s 79 Level 2 Wastewater Treatment Plants (WWTPs) in order to improve compliance over time. Importantly, this involved assisting TasWater to identify priority projects and forecast capital expenditure associated with these projects.
• In the area of contaminated site management this year, the EPA introduced the requirement for certification under the Australian Site Contamination Practitioners Scheme to ensure that only people with the necessary level of knowledge, expertise and skill are able to deal with contamination issues in this State. This should result in improvement to the standards of environmental assessment and reporting of contaminated site issues.
• Each year, the EPA receives reports and waste data (based on the Tasmanian Waste Classification System) from landfill operators and compost facilities, and non-municipal sources such as industrial recyclers, which helps to provide a picture of Tasmania’s waste management and overall recovery rate. An audit conducted of the State’s waste depots, including the majority of putrescible landfills and composting sites, showed that Tasmania’s waste depots are, in general, operating in accordance with their permit conditions.
• In 2015-16, waste data received by the EPA indicates that Tasmania generated approximately 648,964 tonnes of waste, of which, approximately 427,358 tonnes was landfilled and 233,520 tonnes was recovered through recycling and composting. Waste to landfill during the year was made up of municipal (43.24%), commercial and industrial (48.90%), and construction and demolition waste (7.86%). An audit conducted of the State’s waste depots, including the majority of putrescible landfills and composting sites, showed that Tasmania’s waste depots are, in general, operating in accordance with their permit conditions.
• During the year, the EPA undertook two litigations (through the Magistrates Court and the Resource Management and Planning Appeals Tribunal), and there were seven prosecutions by infringement notice, six written warnings issued, 14 referred matters commenced and 217 litter infringement notices issued. A Triabunna fish waste processing and rendering business was prosecuted in the Magistrates Court for the unlawful disposal of liquid waste onto rural land on the East Coast, and was ordered to pay $40,000 in fines and $12,823 in costs. Remedial work conducted at a cost of at least $21,000 to the defendant has substantially restored the property.
• The EPA’s extensive network of air monitoring stations, providing real-time air measurements, along with the innovative mobile monitoring station, has assisted our understanding of the movement and impact of smoke. While Launceston is well known to be susceptible to a build-up in smoke levels, especially in winter, data collected by the EPA this year shows that a number of Tasmanian towns experience poorer winter-time air quality than Launceston.
• In May 2016, the Minister for Primary Industries and Water announced that the EPA would take responsibility for the day to day environmental management of the salmon industry. Planning to implement the change has followed in a staged approach, beginning with legislative amendments and the transfer of authority from the Secretary DPIPWE.